Picture of elf! A mother is looking forward to spending her first Christmas at home with her baby, who was born ten weeks early this time last year.
Little Charlie was born weighing just 1lb 15oz. As he clung to life at University of Wales Hospital in Cardiff his parents, Laura White, 27, and Arron Stephens, 27, dressed him in an elf costume to keep him warm on Christmas Day.
This year Miss White, of Penarth, south Wales, is looking forward to celebrating her first Christmas at home with baby Charlie, her partner and her son Morgan, 6.
She said: “Charlie’s grown into a handsome, cheeky boy. This year we can’t wait to celebrate our first proper family Christmas with our Santa baby.”
During her pregnancy doctors found Miss White had high blood pressure and large amounts protein in her urine – both signs of pre-eclampsia which, if untreated, can develop into eclampsia which causes life-threatening seizures during pregnancy.
Miss White was taken into hospital for monitoring and tests in October 2013. Ten weeks before her due date, she was rushed into surgery to undergo an emergency caesarean section.
Medics said that without emergency surgery both Miss White and her baby could die.
Miss White said: “The baby’s heart rate was dipping so they had to get him out. I was terrified.”
After giving birth Miss White’s newborn son was rushed to intensive care.
Miss White said: “I was upset and worried. I spent all my time in hospital signing consent forms for various procedures. I was all over the place for months.”
Against all the odds, Charlie fought to survive. He endured blood transfusions, an operation on his bowel and laser surgery on his eyes.
Miss White said: “It was a full month before I could hold him. When I finally did, I was worried I might crush him.
“He was so fragile. His whole hand was the size of just two of my fingers and his head was smaller than the palm of my hand.”
On Christmas Day last year the entire family went over to the hospital to spend Christmas with the fragile baby. Miss White dressed Charlie up in a festive elf costume.
She said: “We opened our presents and had our Christmas dinner at home, then at one o’clock we went into the hospital.
“We wanted to enjoy the festivities as a whole family and it didn’t feel right sitting down to a turkey dinner while Charlie lay in hospital. I brought him a stocking with little teddies and knitted blanket for him.
“The hospital made me a card with his tiny footprint on it.”
On December 28 Miss White received a call from the hospital saying she could take her son home. By that time Charlie had grown to weigh 5lb 3oz.
“It was a fantastic late Christmas present,” said Miss White.
“I was very excited when we finally got him home, it felt strange to have given birth to him so long ago and for him to still not be with us.”
This year Charlie, now 14 months old, will spend Christmas at home for the first time.
Miss White said: “We’re going to keep it quiet this year and keep him at home, as it will be his first one.
“I’ve bought him a few musical toys, which always gets him excited as he loves the flashing lights.
“I don’t think he really knows what’s going on, maybe next year he might understand a bit more.
“I would love to see him in the elf costume again, but he’s too big for it now – he really has grown.”
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