Birthday celebration for tot who weighed less than bag of sugar

Mum Charlene Clark and daughter Emily, from Livingston.
Mum Charlene Clark and daughter Emily, from Livingston.
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A TINY tot has defied the odds of celebrating her second birthday thanks to her love of swimming.

Emily Clark weighed less than a bag of sugar when she arrived 16 weeks before her due date in July 2015.

Doctors warned her mother that there was a 50 per cent chance that she wouldn’t survive after weighing just 1lb 6oz at birth.

Emily spent months in hospital after she was born in breach, suffered from jaundice and needed blood transfusions and an oxygen tank.

But her mum Charlene said her little girl has come on “leaps and bounds” over the past two years – and thinks it’s partly down to her love of swimming.

Charlene said she was delighted to be celebrating her daughter’s second birthday today after two years of uncertainty.

The 34-year-old said: “It sounds funny but as Emily was premature, she didn’t stay in my womb for very long to get used to being in water. She loves swimming and we go every week. It’s strengthened her bones and her muscles and she can even go underwater. She’s very aware of what’s going on and knows what to do when I tell her to duck.

“She achieved her Level One certificate at the Starfish Swimming Club.

“Then the instructor gave her the Level Two and Three certificates, saying it’s because she did more than what was expected of her.”

Emily is petite for her age, standing at just 77cm tall and weighing 20lbs.

But Charlene said her little girl is loud and full of life – and loves going to her Book Bugs Club, Early Learning Centre and her music class, Jo Jingles.

Charlene, from Livingston, added: “She’s come on leaps on bounds from last year compared to now.

“She has become so strong and confident. As an only child she appreciates the company of other babies. I’m also able to have a conversation with her. She will quickly tell you what she likes or doesn’t like.

“Hearing her talking and singing along to nursery rhymes and watching her so focused on the TV, watching her play with other children has been amazing. She never gets tired.”

Charlene said doctors are “amazed” by Emily’s progress and that she’s been discharged from the paediatricians. She also no longer needs blood transfusions and both her eyesight and hearing have improved.

But Charlene admits her harrowing experiences are never far from her mind.

Before Emily, she had tried for several years to have babies but tragically suffered miscarriages.

Now she’s helping Bliss, a charity close to her heart which raises awareness of premature and sick babies. She’s also backing a campaign to extend maternity leave and boost funding for prenatal units in hospitals across Scotland. She’s also backing a campaign to extend maternity leave and boost funding for prenatal units in hospitals across Scotland.

Charlene said: “I had to wait two-and-a-half weeks to get a scan to find out if I had miscarried before. No equipment was available at the weekend and I had to wait to find out, while I was bleeding in my house.

“I think there should be separate maternity wards for women who have miscarried or had stillbirths. There’s not enough money going into prenatal facilities.”