A teenage mum has given birth to a daughter believed to be the UK’s smallest premature baby in 20 years.
Ellie Paton, 17, was warned baby Hannah Stibbles might not survive due to her tiny size after she had a C-section at 25 weeks pregnant.
Tiny Hannah, who weighed just 325g (11oz) at birth, is thought to be the smallest baby to survive in the UK in the past 19 years, and was given a 20% chance of pulling through by doctors.
She was born on December 30 by emergency C-section, after her parents were warned by medics “babies that small don’t survive” – but was strong enough to breath by herself.
Ellie and partner Brandon Stibbles, 21, were warned at a 22-week scan that their baby the size of a 16-week foetus, and pre-eclampsyia was diagnosed at Crosshouse Hospital, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire.
No date for a C-section was penciled in as one could be needed at any time, but on December 29 Ellie woke up with excruciating stomach and chest pains and was rushed to Crosshouse Hospital around 11am.
She was sent to QEUH around 7pm and Hannah was born by emergency C-section just after 1am on December 30.
The couple had to spend New Year’s Eve apart while Brandon, who works as a labourer, stayed in a nearby Travelodge, where they are living for the foreseeable future.
Ellie has got to hold Hannah briefly once, and Brandon got to change the tot’s nappy – while she grabbed his finger in a white-knuckle fist.
The baby is given bubble wrap to keep her warm as it is lighter than a blanket but is always kicking it off in her incubator.
Both parents said Hannah is “the best thing to ever happen to them” and they can’t wait to get her home to Newmilns, Ayrshire – but that may not be until her due date, on April 13.
When she tips the scales at 500g Hannah will be moved to Crosshouse Hospital, but that could be two months away – although she has gained 25g since being out the womb.
The UK’s smallest baby before Hannah was Aaliyah Hart who was born weighing 12oz in 2003.
Ellie said: “It was just scary all the time.
“I had gone in just for a scan and ended up with high blood pressure, they sent me the QEUH and I was there for two days while my blood pressure sorted itself out.
“I went home and thought everything was OK, the next morning I woke up with excruciating pain in my chest and stomach and had to go in the next day.
“They said I was going to be having a C-section but there was no plan, it could happen at any time.”
The couple, who have been together nearly 18 months, had hoped to be able to hold Hannah by now but are living for that moment.
Ellie said: “We are allowed to put our hands in the incubator, I have held her once – she sleeps on a thing called ‘the nest’.
“When the nurse changed it I got to hold her up.
“It will be pretty soon we’re able to hold her.”
Brandon added: “We are loving it.
“It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to us.
“Ellie got to hold her and I got to change her nappy – when I took my hand away from changing her nappy, she grabbed it.
“We were told she had a 20% chance of survival, that she could need resuscitating, or be stillborn but when she came out she was breathing, she’s practically breathing on her own.
“It’s been absolutely crazy, we got the first idea at a scan, the lady said to us ‘you’ve got quite a small baby’.
“At 22 weeks she was the size of 16 weeks.
“It was quite terrifying.”
Ellie’s younger sister, Abbie-Beth Miller, aged one, was born 28 weeks early, last year.
Mum-of-three Stacey Miller, 36 – Hannah’s gran – has been a massive support to the young couple and they are feeling a bit homesick.
Brandon added: “The high up doctors were coming into the neonatal unit and saying ‘babies this size just don’t survive’.
“Not at 25 weeks into pregnancy – babies should be 500g or more, Hannah was 325g.
“If anything she has excelled on the outside.
“We are hoping things stay the way she is, putting on weight and feeding well.
“It’s not been easy but we’ve got a really strong support system, Ellie’s family have been an amazing support.
“Ellie’s mum went through the exact same thing.
“We are both just really eager to be back in our own environment.
“I would never have done it any way differently either.”
And they praised medics at the maternity unit in the QEUH.
Brandon said: “All the people who we have dealt with since Ellie went into the maternity ward have been absolutely brilliant.
“She has bubble wrap on her, it keeps the heat in but she tends to kick it away.
“Everybody says she’s very sassy, she’s very active.
“Our whole life has just changed.”