Baby born weighing less than a loaf of bread defeats odds to celebrate 1st birthday
The parents of a premature baby, born weighing less than a loaf of bread, have described feeling "so grateful" that their daughter has defied the odds to celebrate her first birthday.
Lauren Ormston, 27, from Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, gave birth at just 23 weeks after going into premature labour on 4th March 2022.
Baby Isla weighed just 535g (1.18lbs) when she was born - less than a large loaf of bread (typically 800g) - and the odds were stacked against her.
After her birth she was rushed to the neonatal unit and was later diagnosed with a level two bleed on the brain and a hole in the heart.
Isla spent four months in hospital fighting for her life before finally being discharged on July 12 2022.
Read more: Baby born with heart wired the wrong way round survives major surgery: 'So strong'
Mum Ormston and her fiancé Oliver Dewey, 32, were thrilled to celebrate Isla's first birthday this month - a milestone they worried their daughter may never reach.
Isla now weighs 7kg - over thirteen times her birth weight - and makes the tiny nappies she used to wear look like dolls' nappies.
Recalling the moments immediately after her daughter's birth Ormston says: "I could only cuddle Isla for six minutes before she was taken to a ventilator.
"She looked so small and fragile, like she would snap at the slightest bit of movement.
"We didn’t think we’d see her first birthday, or that she’d ever come home - there were so many times we nearly lost her in hospital and were told to prepare for the worst.
"But I knew my baby girl was a fighter - and I was right."
Ormston continues: "She's defeated all the odds.
"She is absolutely amazing and we are so proud - every day with her is a blessing."
The couple found they were expecting their first child on 2nd November 2021 and the pregnancy initially passed without incident, with their baby expected to arrive on July 1 2022.
But on March 3 Ormston began to get severe pains in her abdomen, which she decided to get checked out.
Having telephoned the triage three times that night, she ended up going to Frimley Park Hospital, Camberley, Surrey, for tests.
Read more: Mum gives birth to an 11lb 13oz baby 'the size of a toddler'
But when she arrived the following day, doctors informed her she was in labour and gave the baby just a 10% chance of survival.
After being blue-lighted in an ambulance to St Peter's Hospital, Ormston was induced at 7:30pm, giving birth to baby Isla less than two hours later.
Isla was immediately rushed to the neonatal unit and ventilated as she was unable to breathe without assistance.
"Her skin was transparent, I could see every little vein within her body," her mum recalls. "I lived each day, never knowing if she would make it, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute."
After six weeks Isla was taken off the ventilator and began using an oxygen mask instead. This meant her parents could properly cuddle their tiny newborn without tubes getting in the way.
At two months old, Isla lost vision in her right eye after her retina detached, and surgery to fix it was unsuccessful.
But she continued to fight and on July 12, after 130 days in hospital, having grown to weigh 4kg, she could finally go home with her parents.
Watch: Teenage mum gives birth to newborn believed to be the UK's smallest premature baby
In March 2023, the family celebrated Isla's first birthday - a milestone they feared she would never reach.
She can now also sit unaided, is trying to crawl, and even stand up with some assistance.
Her clothing may only be sized for babies aged three to six months, but Isla is unrecognisable from the tiny, frail newborn her parents welcomed.
Read more: Parents who sleep alongside their babies need safety advice, urge experts
She now wears regular nappies, which dwarf the newborn nappies she was initially in, which were so small they could sit in the palm of your hand.
"Looking at her now, you wouldn’t know she was premature," her mum explains. "She’s a proper little madam now, she's got her own personality, and is the most independent little girl ever.
"It's taught us not to take anything for granted - we live for each day because you don’t know what's around the corner.
Read more: Babies born in this area of the UK live 12 years longer, according to new research
"We are just grateful for what we have, so grateful she was strong enough to defeat the odds and prove everyone wrong.
"When she is older, I'm going to share the experience with her so she knows how special she is and she can be grateful too."
Additional reporting SWNS.