THIS is the moment the mother of the UK’s youngest surviving baby got to hold her daughter for the first time.
Claire Cressey said cuddling and kissing Emily, who was born at 24 weeks, was “the best moment of my life”.
The 34-year-old from Coldstream in the Borders enjoyed a precious 20 minutes with her daughter on the most fitting of days, Mothering Sunday.
Emily, who weighed just 1lb 3oz when she was born on 27 February, could legally have been aborted.
However, after receiving “fantastic” care at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, the infant is thriving and now weighs just over 1lb 10oz.
The mother-of-four admitted she was physically sick on Sunday morning because she was so worried that something might go wrong when Emily was taken out of her incubator.
But the ten-minute cuddle was stretched to 20 minutes because Emily responded so well to her mother’s touch, maintaining an even heart rate and temperature throughout.
She said: “I’ve waited for over a month to be able to hold her and it is something I will remember for the rest of my life.
“I cried before the nurse even took her out, it was so emotional. I’ve never experienced anything like it before.
“She snuggled up to my chest and fell asleep. The nurses kept checking her heartbeat and temperature and they were fine so I got longer with her than expected.”
Ms Cressey added: “It was very scary. She is so tiny, she can fit in the palm of your hand. I was scared something might go wrong but she coped really well.
“Actually holding her was quite a shock because it was only then that I realised just how tiny she is. To me she is perfect and I’m very lucky.”
Emily is being carefully watched and kept in an incubator. Ms Cressey’s partner, Alan Coultas, was not able to visit his daughter on Sunday because the couple could not find anyone to look after their other children.
They are having to spend more than £110 a week on making the 100-mile round trip to the hospital, parking and childcare. Members of the public have been donating towards the cost of the family visiting Emily.
Ms Cressey said: “She came so early that any money we had saved has been spent. At this moment, we are having to choose between petrol and food.”
When Emily was born, Ms Cressey arrived at the hospital with minutes to spare following a four-hour labour. The baby was rushed to the neonatal unit and placed in an incubator.
At three days old, Emily was able to breathe by herself and doctors put her on a lower dependency continuous positive airway pressure machine.
But ten days later, she started to struggle so doctors were forced to ventilate her again.
The couple have been sharing Emily’s story on a Facebook page, uploading photographs and giving daily updates on her condition, while receiving messages of support from all over the world.