British racing driver and former track cyclist Chris Hoy and his wife Sarra Hoy have opened up about the premature birth of their son, Callum, saying it was a 'frightening' experience.
The Edinburgh-born athlete's son was born 11 weeks early after doctors discovered his wife suffered from severe pre-eclampsia, a potentially lethal pregnancy disorder which consists of high blood pressure and protein in the urine.
Sir Chris told Manchester Evening News: "Having Callum so early was a shocking and frightening experience.
"Nothing can prepare you for having a tiny and sick baby on a neonatal unit."
He said: 'It is a surprise to any family, we were still 11 weeks off the due date and there were so many things yet to be done."
After Callum's birth in October 2014, the couple had to wait several days before holding their baby, who weighed just 2lbs 2oz and required two years of post-birth care.
Mrs Hoy admitted: "My first instinct was to get up and run away (from the situation), because it’s the last thing you want to hear."
She said she was terrified to damage him: "It took two nurses to help lift him out of his incubator and lay him on my chest.
"It was like holding a frail baby bird. We were terrified but at the same time utterly consumed with love and a desire to protect him."
Raising awareness of the issue
The couple were speaking out on World Prematurity Day, which is observed on 17 November each year, to raise awareness of premature birth and the concerns of preterm babies and their families, and to mark Pampers' new Preemie Protection nappies for premature babies in partnership with UK's leading prematurity charity Bliss
Mrs Hoy recalls her shock after giving birth, saying that at the time, she didn't know babies could be born that early.
She added: "But actually you learn an awful lot when you have a premature baby and babies are born a lot earlier than - up to even 23 weeks and born a lot smaller than Callum – which is why these nappies for Pampers are so significant."
Despite his difficult start, Callum, who is now aged five, is thriving at school and is the tallest in his class.