Nestling in the arms of her family it’s clear baby Francesca is the apple of her parents’ eye.
But Louisa Williams and her husband Matthew have more reason than most to cherish their new daughter.
Little Francesca was born two months premature in August this year, and it’s only thanks to the dedicated medical staff at Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Children that she is alive today.
Her organs dangerously underdeveloped, the newborn spent the first seven and a half weeks of her life under the care of the specialist neonatal unit, where her mum, dad and new big sister Isabella, two, visited daily.
Now that Francesca is safely home with mum, dad and big sister, the couple are sharing their story in support of the Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity’s Neonatal Appeal, which aims to raise £250,000 to fund equipment, including resuscitation trolleys, life-saving ventilators and the latest models of incubators.
Louisa, 35, said: “The first few weeks of Francesca’s life was a bit of a whirlwind.
“We couldn’t hold her for the first few days because she was very poorly and required a lot of support.”
She was 29 weeks pregnant when she suffered terrible cramps. After calling Matthew, Louisa went to the maternity unit at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.
Over the next 48 hours she would have two major operations, bringing her tiny baby into the world and saving her own life.
“When I went in with stomach pains on the Friday night, I thought I was in labour – it felt just like contractions, but I knew it was just way too early,” explained Louisa, who works in events, and lives in Giffnock, outside Glasgow.
Doctors diagnosed Louisa with appendicitis and ordered an emergency caesarean – 10 weeks before her due date of October 23.
Just a few hours later at 11.46am on Sunday, August 11, baby Francesca was born weighing 3lbs 3oz, and moments later Louisa’s swollen appendix was removed.
Matt, 35, added: “The feeling we had getting Francesca home can’t be matched, the best feeling in the world. The team who helped us get there are all heroes in our eyes. Our little family is complete because of them.”
Each year, around 2,000 babies are cared for in Glasgow’s neonatal units. In the beginning of a premature baby’s journey their condition can change hour by hour, making every minute precious for their families.
Shona Cardle, chief executive at Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “Babies born prematurely or with complex health conditions, face a marathon fight for life. The babies, their families and the teams who care for them inspire us with their strength and bravery every day, and we want to do everything we can to support them.
“We’ve set an ambitious fundraising target, but we believe in the help and generosity of our supporters.”
Visit glasgowchildrenshospitalcharity.org for more info