SHE might be wearing clothes made for a much younger baby, but nothing from Lily Forsyth’s beaming grin betrays the struggles she has faced in her short life.
Born 16 weeks early on July 31 last year, she weighed only 1lb 8oz – making her one of the smallest of the 8000 premature babies born in Scotland each year.
Her tiny fingers could barely clutch her mother’s thumb and her frail little body would fit into her father’s palm.
Mother Jodie Mcintyre and father Mark Forsyth, 23, had to endure the agony of watching their little girl undergo procedure after procedure over the 174 dark days she spent at the Simpson maternity unit at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
At the lowest point, Jodie and fiance Mark even began heartbreaking preparations for her funeral.
But the resilient tot has now celebrated her first birthday at home in Mayfield, Dalkeith, with her parents and her two-year-old sister, Chantelle.
Proud mum Jodie, 21, said: “If anyone had asked me a year ago, I couldn’t have imagined her turning one.
“She’s not even supposed to turn one until November but she was born so early. I always had in the back of my mind to take each day as it comes because I thought I was going to be one of the people who was going to lose my daughter.
“I read so much about premature labour and it didn’t look good so I was really worried.”
Doctors even offered Jodie a termination when she was 20 weeks pregnant – which falls within the 24-week legal limit – because they were so worried that Lily would not make it.
But she refused as Lily had a strong heartbeat and Jodie wanted to give her a chance to fight for her little life.
Jodie said: “She shouldn’t really be here on account of what happened. She’s such a little fighter.
“We nearly lost her so many times.”
Doctors allowed Lily to go home in time for Christmas when she reached the healthy weight of 9lb.
She now tips the scales at around 20lb and no longer needs the oxygen support she was dependent on for the first nine months of her life.
Jodie said: “She’s such a happy baby. She is still tiny, she’s really still in baby mode although she’s one.
“She’s learning to try to walk around in her baby walker after Chantelle but she is not quite sitting up on her own. She’s really getting there though.
“We had a party for close friends and family for her birthday. She was very spoilt with all the presents.”
The tight-knit family had a scare last month when Lily started struggling to breathe normally.
The brave little girl had suffered a collapsed lung not long after she was born, and while doctors were able to stabilise the organ, she was still dependent on oxygen for many months afterwards.
Lily was taken to the Sick Kids hospital for a week in July where she had to go back on oxygen.
Jodie said: “It was horrible being back in hospital, particularly when they said she was going back on oxygen and she wasn’t doing so well.
“She took it really bad and the doctors didn’t seem to know what had caused it. I didn’t know whether she was going to make it.”
Lily already has some problems with her eyesight, and doctors have not been able to determine whether she will have any further issues with her development.
Jodie, who is currently studying part-time for her Highers at Edinburgh College, said: “At the moment we aren’t really sure what might happen.
“She has been in hospital a couple of times for check-ups but the major one was recently, which gave me a real scare.
“I think she will always be little but she is still here – that’s the main thing.”