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Premature baby born 12 weeks early weighing 1lbs 13oz and fitting in his dad’s hand, now thriving at home

The parents of a premature baby, born 12 weeks early weighing just 1lbs 13oz say they "couldn't be happier" their son is now home from hospital and doing well.

Sam Dudgeon, 42, from Ware Hertfordshire, was just 28 weeks pregnant when she gave birth to her son on 3 January 2023, having gone into premature labour. Her newborn was born so small he fit entirely in his dad's hands.

Baby William was immediately transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit at St Thomas' Hospital in London, where he was incubated whilst a valve in his heart closed up and he recovered from an early infection.

After continuing to grow, William was transferred to the Lister Hospital on 23 March, where he spent two weeks before being finally discharged from hospital on 3 April.

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Sam Dudgeon, 42, gave birth at St. Thomas' Hospital, London, at just 28 weeks in January this year. (Sam Dudgeon/SWNS)
Sam Dudgeon, 42, gave birth at St. Thomas' Hospital, London, at just 28 weeks in January this year. (Sam Dudgeon/SWNS)

His parents, Sam and Chris, 35, a brand ambassador, were thrilled to be able to welcome William home and say the tot has settled in nicely and now weighs a healthy 7lbs.

"It has been an emotional rollercoaster and still is to some extent," Sam, a finance manager explains.

"We both cried when he was in the car ready to come home."

Though the couple were warned their new baby would be small, they were unsure just how tiny their newborn might be.

"My husband, Chris, could hold his entire body in his hands," Sam says.

"He looked so fragile and when he breathed you could see his ribs."

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Baby William's body could fit into his dad's hands at birth. (Sam Dudgeon/SWNS)
Baby William's body could fit into his dad's hands at birth. (Sam Dudgeon/SWNS)

But now that he's home and continuing to grow, the couple say William seems so "big and heavy" in comparison to his size at birth.

"Most people who see him say he's small and very light to them, to us he's our chunky monkey," his mum continues.

The couple had been trying for a baby on and off for four years and were ready to potentially undergo IVF when they conceived naturally in July 2022.

But at 28 weeks, a complication meant baby William was not getting enough blood flow from the placenta, and he had to be born early.

Sam went to the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, Essex, at the end of December 2022 for a routine checkup but was kept in for monitoring.

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William was incubated whilst a valve in his heart closed up and he recovered from an early infection, pictured with his mum. (Sam Dudgeon/SWNS)
William was incubated whilst a valve in his heart closed up and he recovered from an early infection, pictured with his mum. (Sam Dudgeon/SWNS)

On New Year's Day, Sam was transferred to St. Thomas' Hospital in Central, London, for William to be born there as his pre-birth weight prediction (750g) was lower than the Princess Alexandra Hospital minimum (800g).

Despite his small size, William didn't require the need for a ventilator and was able to breathe on his own, only requiring basic oxygen support.

"When he was born, he was breathing on his own and continues to," Sam explains.

"He needed and still needs some oxygen support because his lungs are small and can't provide the requirements he needs but when they grow, he will need it less."

The couple describe their son's arrival as a "rollercoaster".

"The first couple of weeks were the hardest as we knew if he got through those first two weeks then we would be out of the danger zone," William's mum explains.

"He had an infection in the beginning and was incubated which was scary. We were also told about the open valve in his heart, which is very normal for premature babies."

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Baby William was born weighing just 1lbs 13oz and was immediately transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit. (Sam Dudgeon/SWNS)
Baby William was born weighing just 1lbs 13oz and was immediately transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit. (Sam Dudgeon/SWNS)

Having recovered from his infection and seeing his heart valve close, William was moved out of NICU into high dependancy where he continued to grow.

"The doctors were very happy and said he was doing really well," Sam continues.

William's progress meant the family were soon transferred to Lister Hospital in Hertfordshire, where he continued to progress.

"He upped his feeding by bottle so well that his feeding tube came out and his oxygen support decreased so much that they could put him on standard oxygen," Sam says.

"He had to come home on oxygen which is a shame as we were hoping he might be wire free, but we were told this probably would be the case and hopefully he won't be on it long."

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Parents, Sam and Chris, were thrilled to take their son home from hospital, earlier this month. (Sam Dudgeon/SWNS)
Parents, Sam and Chris, were thrilled to take their son home from hospital, earlier this month. (Sam Dudgeon/SWNS)

The couple say they feel "blessed" with the help they received from the doctors and other medical staff for the first three months of William's life.

"We were taught how to look after him," Sam explains. "From changing his nappy to feeding him and giving him a bath.

"Other parents have to learn that when they come home from hospital after having their babies."

And now that William is at home the couple are getting used to life as new parents.

"It's wonderful," Sam says.

"We're trying to get used to the lack of sleep, but I don't mind it one bit.

"He has settled in and we couldn't be happier."

Additional reporting SWNS.