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Baby weighing just 1lb 6oz at birth goes home after 81 days in hospital

A premature baby boy from Fife has come home for the first time after spending 81 days in hospital.

Stephanie Auchterlonie was first made aware that there might be a problem with her unborn baby at her 20 week scan. Medics identified a right aortic arch, a potential symptom of a genetic disorder called DiGeorge Syndrome. 

Following this, doctors discovered at Stephanie’s first growth scan that baby Charlie was not growing properly due to a problem with her placenta.

Shortly afterwards, Stephanie was transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Wishaw due to concerns about baby Charlie’s condition.

“None of us thought he would make it”

Two days after Stephanie arrived in hospital, Charlie was born by emergency caesarean section.

“It was a terrifying time and to be honest none of us thought he would make it”, Stephanie said.

“[Doctors] told me to be prepared for him going on a ventilator and they also told me he wouldn’t cry when he came out”, she went on.

Charlie was born at 28 weeks gestation, weighing just 1lb 6oz. He was taken immediately to the intensive care unit but brought back to see his mother about half an hour later.

Stephanie said “As crazy as it sounds when I first saw him my first words were ‘oh my god it’s a real baby – it looks like a real baby! I don’t know how to describe what I was expecting because I knew he was going to be so small”.

“Tiny wee thing in this big incubator”

In intensive care, Charlie was attached to a machine to keep his lungs open and had to be tube-fed.

Stephanie remembered “Later after I had spent some time in recovery, I was able to go see Charlie. He was this tiny wee thing in this big incubator”.

Charlie spent his first Christmas in hospital, with Stephanie and her parents visiting him.

“Staff tried to make it extra special for the parents of babies in the intensive care unit”, she said. “One of the local schools had filled a box with gifts for Charlie and we got little presents. These included Christmas tree ornaments with Charlie’s footprints”.

“It was nice having those things to keep and really made it special”, she shared.

Stephanie’s parents also shared their feelings around Charlie’s birth. Her mother Bernadette said “We felt worried and terrified for Charlie – about what might happen to him – and what it would do to Stephanie if he didn’t survive”.

“When Charlie was born we were over the moon that he was breathing on his own, but terrified thinking how could someone with his tiny weight and size survive”, she continued. “Watching him grow with no complications and watching Stephanie and Sandy start to have some hope made us feel better”.

“He is a little fighter”

Charlie was able to go home after his weight hit 4lb 10oz, a few days before his original due date.

Stephanie said, “I was really excited to get Charlie home but it was also a bit daunting because he was still very small. But they were very good at encouraging me to do things myself for him while in the hospital like changing his nappies and feeding him”.

She shared that it felt “surreal” to have Charlie at home. 

“Charlie has been on an incredible journey – he is a little fighter”, she said. “It was especially nice to wake up on Mother’s Day this year and seeing Charlie knowing how special it was to finally have him home”.

Her mother Bernadette agreed, saying “Everyday we look at Charlie and see what a little miracle he is to the whole family and how loved he is”.

Over 30 years since the time limit for abortion last updated

Baby Charlie was born at 28 weeks gestation, which was the original abortion limit in the UK. The current time limit of 24 weeks for abortions performed under section 1(1)(a) of the Abortion Act 1967 was introduced in 1990. 

Prior to this change, the abortion limit had, de facto, been 28 weeks gestation set by the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said “It is amazing to hear about baby Charlie’s tremendous improvements and it is wonderful that he has been able to go home with his mother. Stories like this highlight the resilience of preborn and premature babies and demonstrate their value and humanity”.

Dear reader,

MPs will shortly vote on proposed changes to the law, brought forward by Labour MPs Stella Creasy and Diana Johnson, that would introduce the biggest change to our abortion laws since the Abortion Act was introduced in 1967.

These proposed changes to the law would make it more likely that healthy babies are aborted at home for any reason, including sex-selective purposes, up to birth.

Polling undertaken by ComRes, shows that only 1% of women support introducing abortion up to birth and that 91% of women agree that sex-selective abortion should be explicitly banned by the law.

Please click the button below to contact your MP now and ask them to vote no to these extreme changes to our law. It only takes 30 seconds using our easy-to-use tool.