A Ballykelly couple has every reason to celebrate Christmas this year.
Just seven months ago, Demi Payne and her partner, Christopher McIvor, feared their son was going to die.
Freddy was a very sick baby and we didn’t think he’d make it, so it just makes this Christmas so much more special for us as a family.Demi Payne
Born eight weeks early, Freddy was put on life support; his lungs had collapsed and he had bleeding on the brain.
The couple, who have two older children - Brooklyn (5) and Cayden (3) - were given the unimaginable news their little boy might not make it. Having been told to gather their closest family members, they had Freddy christened.
Eight days later, Demi said Freddy started to improve and he came off the ventilator. Three weeks later, he was breathing on his own.
“People say babies are a miracle, but this wee man really is,” said Demi. “He’s the happiest, smiliest baby ever. He’s a brilliant wee boy, and he loves his sleep.”
Demi and Christopher say they’ve been told their little boy won’t be able to do certain activities when he gets older, and he has to have two injections between October and March to prevent sickness. The couple realise some people might think putting up their Christmas tree at the start of November is a bit over the top but, after what Freddy went through, they want to make the most of every day.
“We decided to put our decorations up early as we had a really rough year. Freddy was a very sick baby and we didn’t think he’d make it, so it just makes this Christmas so much more special for us as a family. We’re so ready for Christmas 2016,” said Demi. “It makes you realise how blessed you are as a family. That’s what it’s all about, and that’s why it’s so special for us.”
The family thank staff in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and the Fetal Assessment Unit in Altnagelvin who cared for Freddy and supported them.