A couple who hit headlines after being stranded in Singapore with their premature baby have shared heart-warming images of them holding their son for the first time.
Teaching assistant Chloe Wilkinson, 30, went into labour when she was just 24 weeks pregnant while travelling back from Australia with her partner, Patraic Walsh-Kavanagh, 27.
The couple were in Singapore awaiting their connecting flight back home to the UK, when Chloe suddenly gave birth to son Lorcan 15 weeks ahead of her due date.
After being born on February 26 weighing a tiny 1lbs 9oz, Chloe and Patraic were left facing a £140,000 hospital bill after being told Lorcan would have to remain in neo-natal intensive care in the country for at least three months until he is well enough to travel.
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But six weeks on from his birth, the couple have been able to hold their son for the first time.
“I was incredibly nervous holding Lorcan for the first time as I knew he was so fragile and I was so worried it would be too much for him to handle,” Chloe, from Lincoln said.
“When the nurses first placed him on my chest, it wasn’t the typical heartwarming feeling you’d expect as it was so hectic trying to get him into the correct position and ensure his tubes were all in place while all the alarms were going off.
“It wasn’t until the nurses had finished and we were alone that I really felt like a mother for the first time and my heart burst with happiness and love.
Chloe described the moment as “extremely overwhelming” saying she could hardly take her eyes off him.
“He looked so comfortable and content and the feeling of his tiny body on mine was something I’ll never forget.”
The couple found out Chloe was pregnant at the end of November 2018 and were waiting to tell their parents the news once they got back to the UK.
But after experiencing bleeding and cramps during the couple’s two day stop-over in Singapore, Chloe was rushed to hospital and two days later, the couple were given the heartbreaking news Chloe had started dilating at just 24 weeks.
Chloe’s condition worsened over the following seven days and the couple were advised by doctors it could be unsafe to prolong labour.
She gave birth to Lorcan naturally at 25 weeks and the youngster was immediately rushed to intensive care.
But shortly after their son’s birth, Patraic was handed an estimated bill for Lorcan’s care of £140,000 assuming he doesn’t get infection or any further complications.
As the couple’s travel insurance didn’t cover the eventuality of Chloe becoming pregnant, Patraic’s sister launched a GoFundMe page, which has so far raised £71,472.
Chloe and Patraic are now living in a serviced apartment close to the hospital, which was generously donated free of charge by a local Singaporean business who heard about the couple’s story.
Lorcan currently remains in intensive care, where doctors believe he will remain for another two months.
Though medical experts cannot yet say if there will be any long-term effects from his premature birth, the couple say the messages of support are helping them through.
“The incredible amount of donations and all the heartwarming messages from people all around the world has made us feel as though we are not going through this alone,” Chloe explained.
“All the staff at the hospital are doing an astounding job and we are so grateful to them for everything they are doing and given the circumstances wouldn’t want our baby boy to be anywhere else.
“Every day I go into the hospital I get a knot in my stomach waiting to hear the update from the intensive care team about Lorcan’s progress as he’s still in a critical condition.
“It’s very early days still but his progress so far has amazed us. He now weighs 2.8lb and is on minimal support for his breathing. He is still being tube fed but is tolerating his feeds as they slowly increase.
“He is still in an incubator but further scans, x-rays and tests have returned clear of any further complications this far.”
And getting to hold their son was a big step forward.
“The last month has been a rollercoaster of emotions for us, but Lorcan has done and continues to do so well against all the odds,” she said.
“We are both bursting with pride and love for our little man.”
You can donate to the couple’s appeal here.