WHEN Abbie Dryden was born, she weighed only a pound and was given only a 20 per cent chance of survival.
Medics feared the worst – and as Abbie was born at 24 weeks, her family was warned to prepare for the worst.
Even if she did pull through, doctors said, there was significant risk of brain damage and disability.
But two years on from her shock early arrival, the Clermiston toddler has just taken her first steps and is ready to play catch-up with her contemporaries, defying almost every prediction made about her.
Although she celebrated her birthday recently, she is not supposed to turn two until November, meaning she is small for her age and developing at a slightly slower pace.
However, parents Pauline and Michael, both 39, are optimistic she will be on par with others by the age of seven and will lead a normal, healthy life.
Mrs Watson, who was in Newcastle visiting family when she went into labour, said: “I just remember getting all these pains, and at that point I thought I was going to lose my baby because it was so early.
“But I went into hospital and they said: ‘You’re having this baby tonight’.
“She weighed just over a pound and was 15 weeks early. At that point of the pregnancy every day counts, so of course we were worried.”
Then, while in the Newcastle hospital, the newborn suffered a brain haemorrhage to which doctors gave a rating of four – the most serious.
After four weeks in Newcastle, Abbie was deemed well enough to be transferred to the Simpson’s special care unit at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
Mrs Watson added: “There are so many lows, but you also get comfort from small improvements too.
“The moments when she would go on the scales and you could see she’d gained some weight.
“And of course getting her home was the best feeling, it came on December 17, a wonderful Christmas present.”
Abbie’s early appearance came as even more of a surprise given Mrs Watson’s other daughter Ellie, three, was late.
“We keep a close eye but she learned to walk okay and we’re confident she’ll be fine,” added Mrs Watson.
“We feel so lucky. We watched so many other babies come in who were not as early as her and either didn’t make it or were left badly disabled.” As a thank-you for the Simpson’s unit, the family held a fundraising event at Bainfield Bowling Club and raised £7500.