A MOTHER who got to hold her premature baby for the first time at the weekend has described it as “the best moment of my life”.
Claire Cressey had to wait for more than a month before she got the chance to hold tiny Emily.
And her tear-jerking moment came – suitably – on Mother’s Day on Sunday, making the tiny fighter the best present ever.
The Evening News has followed the steady progress of the “little miracle” since she was born at 24 weeks in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, weighing just 1lb 3oz.
We revealed how the improvements to her weight – which has gone up to 1lb 7oz – and the fact she was breathing without a ventilator led doctors to suggest she would be strong enough for a cuddle.
Mother-of-four Claire was so nervous that something might go wrong when Emily was taken out of her incubator on Sunday morning that she was physically sick.
But the planned ten-minute cuddle was stretched to 20 minutes because Emily responded so well to her mother’s touch, maintaining an even heart rate and temperature.
Claire, 34, said: “I’ve waited for over a month to be able to hold her and it is something I will remember for the rest of my life.
“I cried before the nurse even took her out, it was so emotional, I’ve never experienced anything like it before.
“She snuggled up to my chest and fell asleep, the nurses kept checking her heartbeat and temperature and they were fine so I got longer with her than expected.
“It was very scary. She is so tiny, she can fit in the palm of your hand. I was scared
something might go wrong but she coped really well.
“Actually holding her was quite a shock because it was only then that I realised just how tiny she is.
“To me, she is perfect and I’m very lucky.”
Dad Alan Coultas, 47, is still waiting for his own special moment with his new daughter after he was forced to stay at their home in the Borders town of Coldstream because there was no-one else available to look after the couple’s other three children.
Claire revealed the family is struggling to fund the £110 a week it costs to make the 100-mile round trip to the hospital as the early arrival of Emily, who was born on February 27 just six months into the pregnancy, has eaten into their
Claire said: “She came so early that any money we had saved has now been spent.
“At this moment we are having to choose between petrol and food.”
Ahead of Emily’s arrival, Claire reached the city’s Royal Infirmary at Little France with just minutes to spare following a gruelling four-hour labour, before midwives whisked the newborn baby off to the neonatal unit and placed her in an incubator.
At three days old, Emily was able to breathe by herself and doctors put her on a lower dependency CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine.
But ten days later, she started to struggle so doctors were forced to ventilate her again, a necessity not uncommon with babies born before 29 weeks.
The couple have been sharing Emily’s journey on a Facebook page, uploading photographs and daily updates on Emily’s condition, receiving messages of support from all over the world.