A ‘miracle’ newborn baby celebrated 100 days by finally being held by her parents – after months of them treasuring only a footprint.
Tiny Grace Parkinson was delivered at 23 weeks term on New Year’s Eve, weighing just 450g – having been given just a 10 per cent chance of survival in the womb.
For the first three months of her life parents Mary and Zac Parkinson treasured her tiny footprint on a sheet of paper as it was the closest they could get to her.
Grace’s fragile condition meant she couldn't be touched or moved in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in Michigan, USA.
Now, three months later, she can be cuddled by her doting parents, Mary and Zac Parkinson as she gains strength.
First-time mum, Mary, 25, has now spoken of her pride at seeing Grace get stronger each day and is looking forward to enjoying summer walks as a family when her daughter is discharged.
‘From the time they were wheeling me from the labour ward to the delivery room, it was 90 seconds,’ Mary said.
‘Because she was born so early, her immune system is extremely compromised and weak.
‘We had to wait until she was stable enough to be moved to hold her. Now we can hold her as much as we like as long as she tolerates it.’
Mary’s pregnancy had been difficult from the start. She suffered extreme morning sickness and then learned that 40 per cent of her placenta had come away, leaving her at risk of miscarriage.
After months of visits to hospital and expecting the worst, Mary and Zac welcomed in the New Year with their new bundle of joy by their side.
Mary said: ‘We knew she was going to come early, just not this early.’
Now the only thing getting her through the long hours sitting in hospital praying Grace is okay is the thought of walks with her new family.
Mary said: ‘When she was born, I was in such a state of shock I didn't really know what to think at first.
‘She was little bigger than your average water bottle. Now she is about the size of a six-pound newborn.
‘When they brought her over to me before they took her to the NICU, I felt relief beyond measure.
‘At that moment I didn't think about what was going to happen or what her issues could be. I was just grateful she was here.
‘She even let out a little cry. They incubated her and whisked her off to the unit.
‘She’s still in hospital and I expect we’re going to be here for at least another three weeks.
‘Day to day I still have to be worried that she isn’t breathing or that her heart rate is low. But each day I can breathe a little bit more knowing she’s getting stronger.
‘We’re lucky that she is being cared for by such good people.
‘I’m just looking forward to when we can go for walks with her and take her outside.’