Meet the incredible baby girl born so early her parents couldn’t even touch or cuddle her – in case her wafer-thin skin RIPPED.
Tiny Grace Parkinson, was born at 23 weeks weighing just 1lb 1oz – the same as half a bag of sugar.
She was so fragile new mum Mary, 26, dad Zac, 30, weren’t able to hold their first-born child for 14 days because her skin was so delicate it would rip if touched.
Grace didn’t open her eyes for weeks and when the proud pair did eventually get to give her a cuddle they said it felt like “holding a feather”.
But she has defied to odds to survive, and eight-month-old baby Grace is now happily at home in Michigan, USA, after 144 days in hospital.
Mary said: “We were so afraid that the trauma of birth would kill her.
“Her lungs were like wet paper and if we were to rub her skin we could have pulled it off.
“When she was first born you could have covered her entire head with the palm of your hand.
“She was so weak but it was amazing to hold her at last.
“When she first laid on my chest she felt like a feather. That moment was amazing.”
Mary, who had a miscarriage earlier in 2017, recalls how 15 weeks into her pregnancy with Grace she started to experience heavy bleeding.
The bleeding worsened and hospital tests confirmed that Mary had suffered a 60 per cent placental abrasion.
This meant that Mary’s body was unable to support Grace’s natural development and if she was to stay in the womb, she’d likely be delivered stillborn.
They waited until 23 weeks – the age at which doctors see a natural birth as medically viable.
Mary was admitted to the Beaumont Hospital in Michigan on December 29 2017, and gave birth two days later following 12-minute labour.
“She was born folded in half and bum first”, explains Mary.
“We just tried to stay positive. The whole experience has made us even closer as a family than we probably would have been.”
Following the birth Mary required surgery to repair internal damage .
“It was touch and go to begin with. For a while it was ‘if she’ll be able to come home’ but eventually we knew that one day we would be able to take her home with us,” she said.
“I have never been so scared in my life in those first couple of weeks. I am just so grateful now because she was so under developed.”
Her parents got to hold her in mid-January and Grace spent a total of 144 days in hospital, but was finally allowed to go home at the end of May.
Doctors have recently told Mary that Grace is developing better than expected for a four month old baby – the age Grace would have been if born full-term.
Although living at home full-time, Grace has weekly medical check-ups and can’t spend time in public placed due to her weak immune system.
But she is expected to make a full recovery and develop normally.
Mary, a journalist, said: “We’ve been home for four months and they have been the best months of my life.
“We began to wonder if our baby would ever make it home but here we are, and we’re so happy.
“It’s the best feeling in the world.
“She’s our miracle baby and we are so both lucky to have her. We are over the moon.”
Dad Zac, who works with vehicles, and Mary said the doctors who cared for the family are “miracle workers”.
She said: “The doctors and nurses became part of the family eventually. They were so careful with Grace.
“To begin with I was too scared to even change her diaper.
“They are the reason that Grace is alive today.”