A little baby who was born so small she couldn’t drink her mother’s milk has made an incredible recovery and, after months in hospital, will be spending her first Christmas at home.
Marley Hayes was born weighing 750g – when her mother, Sophie Louise James, went into labour at just 25 weeks.
Doctors at Doncaster hospital tried to keep the baby inside Sophie for as long as possible, but four days later little Marley was born, on April 2.
Quickly the newborn was taken away to NICU with an array of medical conditions – including a bleed on the brain and renal failure.
But now, after spending 102 days in hospital, seven-month-old Marley will be coming home for Christmas with her parents, Sophie and 30-year-old Lloyd Hayes.
Sophie, a primary school teacher, said: ‘At one point we didn’t even think she’d see her first Christmas.
‘It was something I didn’t even dare hope for. She couldn’t even drink my milk and wasn’t growing at all, it was awful.
‘We were constantly around parents who were losing their babies. We ended up just feeling so lucky.
‘Marley had such a complex medical journey, but now she’s home she’s a super smiley baby, and even sleeps through the night.
‘She’s always got her octopus toy with her too, she’s had him from day one so it’s really amazing to see how much she’s grown.’
The family plan on keeping their first Christmas together small.
Sophie added ‘I’ve already bought so many festive baby grows and outfits for her to wear. She’s going to look so sweet.’
The new parents are looking ahead after an extremely difficult year of hospital visits and emotional turmoil.
At just two days old, Marley was diagnosed with Hypercalcaemia – which is where the calcium level in the blood is higher than normal
Sophie explained: ‘Doctors were stumped about why it was happening. In the end she was taken off calcium completely.
‘So that meant she was taken off my breast milk and was living on bags of vitamins.
‘She barely grew in four weeks.
‘Then she started on a low calcium version of formula called Locasol, and eventually she was allowed my breast milk.’
After more than three months in hospital, Sophie and Lloyd ‘desperately’ wanted their baby daughter to reach 4lb – the weight she would need to be to go home.
Thankfully, this day arrived on July 13 – when Sophie and Lloyd took Marley home to their house in Bawtry, Doncaster.
Now weighing 9lb 9oz, little Marley is happy and healthy.
Sophie added: ‘She’s literally perfection.
‘We imagined sleepless nights, but because she was in such a routine in the hospital we carried it on at home. She was sleeping through the night after four weeks.
‘She’s just the smiliest little thing, loves going on walks outside and watching Nick Junior.
‘When we were in hospital we only got to hold her once a day. It was so hard to not be able to pick up your own baby.
‘Now we’re out of the other end, we take each day as it comes.
‘I’m definitely still processing everything that’s happened.
‘Every single doctor and nurse that cared for Marley were incredible people. We just feel so lucky to have her.’
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