Watch: Baby born smaller than dad's hand finally makes it home
A baby born tinier than her dad’s hand and given just a 10% chance of survival has surprised doctors by making it home, thanks in part to ‘kangaroo cuddles’ from her parents.
Mirren Cook was born prematurely by emergency caesarean at just 25 weeks and one day gestation, after mum Katie, 28, developed pre-eclampsia.
Weighing just 467 grams, less than half a bag of sugar, Mirren was whisked away into neonatal intensive care (NICU). Her parents, Katie and Kevin, 30, had to wait an agonising 10 days before being allowed to hold their daughter.
Recalling the moment she got to hold her daughter for the first time, Katie, an early years officer, says: “It was such an overwhelming feeling, I could have cried happy tears.
“I had been waiting for that day for ages. In a sense it felt like she wasn't mine until that day.”
As Mirren grew stronger, Katie was allowed to hold her every day, and nurses showed the new mum how to have special ‘kangaroo cuddles’ with her baby.
According to Tommy’s Kangaroo care is a method of caring for stabilised low-weight or premature babies outside an incubator. It involves strapping your baby to your chest, with skin-to-skin contact between the baby and parent helping to maintain a healthy body temperature.
After having daily skin-to-skin cuddles with their newborn, Mirren’s parents say she went from strength to strength and after 16 weeks in hospital in Dunfermline, Fife, she was finally strong enough to go home.
Katie says the kangaroo cuddles really helped her to bond with her daughter.
“My motherly instinct kicked in, the kangaroo cuddles really made a difference, because the skin-to-skin touch is crucial for bonding and developing, Mirren loved it.
“I feel it was comforting for her to feel snuggled and smell us. It also helps bring on milk for expressing, as obviously I couldn't have Mirren latch on, so had to express milk into bottles, which was hard with no baby beside me.
“The more kangaroo care we had the better it got.”
Katie’s pregnancy had been normal until she woke up at 25 weeks pregnant and realised she couldn’t feel her baby moving.
She headed straight to hospital, where doctors discovered high levels of protein in her urine and diagnosed her with pre-eclampsia, which according to the NHS is a potentially deadly condition that causes blood pressure to rise and can lead to complications for mother and baby.
Doctors told the parents-to-be they had acted just in time as if they had waited just another 48 hours there’s a chance Mirren would not have made it.
“I'm so grateful that we went and got checked, it really did save us,” Katie adds.
Having been transferred to the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh, Katie underwent an emergency caesarean, with Mirren making her arrival on 10 May 2020.
“The next four months were a rollercoaster,” Katie says. “In 12 hours Mirren went from having a 10% chance of survival to a 70% chance, she just kept fighting.
“She had to have five blood transfusions and has been through more at hospital than most will go through in a lifetime.”
When they could finally hold her, 10 days after her birth, Katie and Kevin were able to start doing all the things parents should be able to do right away.
“We were allowed to change her nappy, read her stories and gave her lots of kangaroo cuddles,” Katie says.
“She kept getting stronger and stronger, and by the time we were leaving we could really spend time with her.”
Now, Mirren is finally home and healthy, the new parents are sharing their story to help others recognise the signs of pre-eclampsia and give hope to other parents who may be going through the same thing.
“We’re so happy that she's back, she's doing so well and seems to be getting stronger,” Katie says.
“We’re incredibly grateful to the NHS, and all of the doctors and nurses that helped us and made it possible to bring Mirren home.
“Now she weighs seven pounds, is getting stronger by the day and we’re all just taking it a day at a time.”
Additional reporting Caters.