Meet the miracle babies who survived against the odds.
Thanks to many hours of specialist care even the tiniest of premature babies now have the chance not just to survive but to thrive.
Two local families are sharing their incredible stories on World Prematurity Day which takes place every year on November 17 to raise awareness about the impact of early birth which affects 15 million babies a year globally.
In the UK one in 13 babies is born prematurely and, along with their families, can face an unpredictable future.
Milnsbridge couple Jemma and Steven Gruszka think of son Lennon as their “miracle baby” as he was born 13 weeks early and weighed only 2lbs 2oz.
He couldn’t breathe on his own when he was born and was in the Special Care Baby Unit at Calderdale Royal Hospital for 11 weeks.
Lennon is now 10 months old and enjoys being fussed over by siblings Ruby, 10, and Jude, seven.
“He’s crawling, is happy, chatty and giggly,” says Jemma.
“He loves being sung Huddersfield Town chants. We sing them to him to get him to sleep. Ruby and Jude are absolutely amazing with him. They have been feeding him, bathing him and reading to him.
“I also want to thank the staff at Calderdale hospital who were amazing, not only with Lennon but with me too. They were incredibly supportive during my journey which was hard. I won’t ever be able to repay them. The staff on the Special Care Baby Unit were all amazing. Everybody was so supportive and lovely.”
Vicky and Stuart Pitcher’s daughter Jenna was born 11 weeks early and weighed just over 3lbs.
During the pregnancy they were told Jenna may not survive as she had the same heart condition as a baby they had lost the previous year.
Vicky, of Lowerhouses, said: “We found out at 24 weeks that Jenna had the same condition which makes the heart start beating far too quickly.”
Doctors tried various drugs to stabilise Jenna in the womb but none worked.
Vicky added: “We made the decision to deliver her early, to give her a chance. She was born weighing 3lbs 2oz and was quite poorly. At first she couldn’t breathe on her own but we were on such a high for weeks because she had been born.
“We had thought that she was going to be delivered and we would have to say goodbye.”
Jenna was in Leeds General Infirmary and Calderdale Royal Hospital for a total of 46 days before she was allowed home.
Her heart condition is now stable.
“She’s a really good baby,” said Vicky. “She has started weaning and is happy and smiley. She loves her older brother Luke, aged three, who is lovely with her.”
Vicky said she was thankful for the support of neonatal hospital staff and Bliss, the UK charity for premature and sick babies.
“Bliss helped by giving support and advice,” she said. “A Bliss ‘champion’ visited the ward and chatted to parents.”
Caroline Lee-Davey, Chief Executive at the premature and sick baby charity Bliss said: “This year, Bliss wants to make people aware of what prematurity really means for babies and their families.
“We are calling on parents of babies born premature to share their stories on social media using #PrematurityIs to give people an insight into how much of an emotional rollercoaster the experience can be.
“We need more people to understand the impact that premature birth has so that those who experience it feel like they are not alone. Having a premature baby can feel isolating and Bliss is here to support families affected by prematurity.”
* To find out more or access support visit www.bliss.org.uk