A baby girl born at 22 weeks has defied the odds to celebrate her first birthday with her family.
Incredibly, little Kacey had arrived into the world weighing just 1lb 6oz (625g) a year ago.
Battling to survive, she then spent close to four months at the neonatal unit at the Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside before returning home last May.
Her mother Carly Proudfoot and father Ryan Charles – as well as four-year-old big sister Faith – recently marked the occasion by reflecting on Kacey’s remarkable first year.
“We’d only found out the week before that we were having a girl,” Carly explained in conversation with the Liverpool Echo.
Ms Proudfoot began to bleed in the days before Kacey’s birth: doctors, fearful she’d develop a fatal infection, then opted to induce her.
“They rushed her away straight after she was born and I didn’t get to see her again until 7am the next morning,” the 31-year-old Birkenhead resident revealed.
“It was quite surreal and I don’t remember a lot of the first couple of weeks – it’s like a blur. You just go into shock and you can’t believe what’s happening.”
Now, and with her first Mother's Day as a mum-of-two approaching, Carly says she said she still regularly thinks about Kacey’s first few months.
Indeed, she said she found the days in the run-up to her youngest child’s February 1 birthday “difficult”.
She said: “I just couldn’t get it out of my mind and I’d think how I’d just gone into hospital this time last year and everything else that happened.
“We spent Mother’s Day in the Ronald McDonald House and at the hospital last year and it was quite a surreal day.
“The staff at Ronald McDonald House were fabulous and they did little cards for everyone. There are 24 cots in the neonatal unit and one of the nurses made every mum a handmade bag with a little teddy in, which I’ve still got.”
Although the little girl is thriving, developmentally Kacey remains four months behind her peers.
Carly explained: “She’s not crawling yet and she’s just learned to sit up and clap her hands.” She added, however: “These little things are huge for us. It’s just a huge, amazing thing that she’s got the co-ordination to clap her hands.”
The proud mum concluded: “I watched machines keep her alive and as far as I’m concerned, every breath she takes on her own is an achievement.”