The parents of a “miracle” baby who weighed just a pound and a half when she was born four months premature have celebrated their first healthy Christmas with her.
When Mylah O’Hara arrived at 25 weeks after a traumatic birth, with her heart restarting just as doctors were wondering if she had died, parents Leah and James agreed there was only one fitting middle name for their first born.
“We gave her Hope as a middle name as we were always going on hope,” said her mother.
“When she was born it had to be Mylah Hope, because it was always ‘we hope, we hope, we hope’.”
Mylah, now a healthy 16-month-old, is one of six remarkable babies featuring in a new fundraising campaign by charity Tiny Life.
Mrs O’Hara, a 25-year-old nurse, recounted the moment a doctor told her Mylah’s heart was not responding immediately after birth.
“He came over to us and said ‘we are going to have to stop working with her, her heart’s not responding, she’s not going to do’,” she said.
“We were screeching ‘don’t stop, don’t stop’. But then her heart started responding and they said we are going to have to take her away and work on her in ICU.”
It was six hours before the couple from Bangor, Co Down, were allowed to see their daughter again.
“They told us they didn’t think she was going to survive the first night, it was really touch and go,” said Mrs O’Hara.
“The next day she turned a corner and she was like a completely different baby.
“They said she defied the odds - she’s a complete miracle.”
Mylah would go on to spend three months in hospital, first the Royal Victoria and then the Ulster.
During that time she suffered a number of health setbacks, developing sepsis and a serious bowel condition.
“It was literally one step forward, 10 steps back, one step forward, 10 steps back,” said her mother.
Mrs O’Hara said she and husband James, a 29-year-old sales adviser, could not thank the medical staff enough.
“They were absolutely fantastic and we literally praise them every single day because they don’t get enough praise for what they do and they are definitely not paid enough,” she said.
“If it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have Mylah today, definitely not.”
Mrs O’Hara said she was honoured that Mylah had been asked to appear on Tiny Life’s billboards.
“I would do anything to help them out, because they have helped us out,” she said.
“At the time you kind of felt you are on your own. I had friends who had normal term babies and no one knows what you are going through unless you have been through it too.
“So that was quite difficult, that you didn’t really have anyone to talk to who knew what you were going through. But Tiny Life did, they have been working there and supporting people for years.”
Mylah’s remarkable progress in the last year means the family approached this year’s festive season in high spirits.
“We count our lucky stars every day,” said Mrs O’Hara.
“Even now we look back at photos and think ‘my goodness, is that really her?’
“Even though we had her home last Christmas she got bronchiolitis and was admitted into hospital on Boxing Day, so we couldn’t enjoy it.
“So this Christmas we have been just so excited.”
For more information on Tiny Life or to support the charity’s work visit www.tinylife.org.uk or check out its Facebook and Twitter pages.