A baby who was the size of her mum’s hand when she was born four months early will mark her first birthday today.
Little Amber Mould is celebrating the milestone with her two brothers Frankie and Kayne to who have also faced health battles.
Amber was born when mother Lucy Dove was in just week 25 of her pregnancy, with an emergency caesarean section carried out when she began to struggle for survival and as her heart rate began to cause concern.
Weighing just 1lb and 9oz, she was left fighting a blood infection, had to have blood transfusions and was fed her mother’s milk through a tube to help her thrive.
She also battled against bronchitis.
She spent her first 11 weeks in a dependency unit before she was allowed to join brothers Frankie and Kayne and dad Wayne at home.
I feel like there’s not been time to exhale.Lucy Dove
The heartache her family faced as they watched her fight for life was the latest in tough times faced by her family.
Kayne, now six, was born with gastroschisis, a life-threatening hole in his abdomen, and spent his early days in intensive care, with the youngster still affected by the lasting impact of the condition.
Four-year-old Frankie, who is due to start Bexhill Academy in September, was just 18-months-old when he was struck down with the flesh-eating bug nacrotising fascitis and will have to continue to undergo skin grafts until he has stopped growing.
Lucy, 28, who runs Dundas Launderette in Monkwearmouth with partner Wayne Mould, 28, said: “The boys absolutely worship Amber and call her Baby Princess.
“I feel like there’s not been time to exhale.
“Hopefully there will be a time in the future when things are better and I’ve had a lot of bad luck in my life, but as I look at it, I’m so lucky that Kanye came through, Frankie wasn’t going to survive and to see your little girl born so early and still fight, I see that I have three really strong children.
“When Amber was born, she was see-through, it was so scary.
“She was also fighting a strep B infection. They thought at first it was meningitis, but the tests for that came back ok, and she was in the high dependency unit for six weeks and then in the low dependency nursery for five weeks.
“It was really hard, having the two boys as well.
“But when we were able to bring her home, she wasn’t on oxygen, but had been on a ventilator for three days.
“She was so poorly.
“We got her blessed on the first night after she was born.
“Now she’s doing fantastically well.
“She’s still a little delayed for her age, but she’s content and we absolutely love her - she’s so precious.”
Lucy, who lives in Hylton Castle with her family, was told she was having Braxton Hicks pains, but when she was examined, doctors said she was in labour.
Her mother had to be put under general anaesthetic for her caesarian section, with Amber still in the birth sack when she was delivered.
Lucy has thanked her mum Lynn Cooper, 57, who sold on the business to her daughter and son-in-law as she retired, and Wayne’s mum Barbara Mould, and all their family for the support and love they have shown.
She has also sent a message of appreciation to the units at Sunderland Royal and Royal Victoria Hospitals which cared for Amber as she fought for life.