By Lucy Notarantonio
A first-time mum – who gave birth to her daughter at 26 weeks – has shared the emotional moment she cuddled her baby for the first time.
Natasha Bjork Johnson, 31, was left devastated when she went into labour 14 weeks early with her daughter, Freya, last January.
Natasha, from Grimsby, was warned by doctors that her tiny daughter – who weighed just 1lb 12oz – might not make it as she had chronic lung disease and a hole in her heart.
But after six weeks in neonatal, Natasha was over the moon when she was able to cuddle her daughter for the first time.
The heartfelt moment was captured on camera and shows Natasha crying as Freya rests on her chest.
Freya, who is now 16 months and 17 pounds has defied all the odds staked against her – something that has prompted Natasha to share their video for the first time.
The factory worker added: “I was heartbroken when I went into labour at just 26 weeks.
“I began bleeding at work before I went to the hospital with my partner, Mark Brumby, 25, who also works at the same place.
“By the time to hospital, the midwives could see her head and within hours she was born and I couldn’t even hold her.
“It was heartbreaking as she was so small, she was rushed straight to NICU and put into a plastic bag to keep her warm and most of all, alive.
“I was so upset that I was unable to hold her straight away, and when I finally did, I was worried in case she might stop breathing and go purple again like she had many times before.
“The first time I held her was unbelievably amazing, I couldn’t stop crying as she was lying on my chest, she was so tiny and fragile.
“Mark filmed me holding her as he knew this was going to be the most special moment, I was so happy.
“I couldn’t help but worry whilst holding her as I had seen her stop breathing and turn purple a few times since birth.
“I felt absolutely useless while she was in hospital but this was the first time I felt like I could actually comfort her.
“I hope that my journey helps other women who have premature babies, it is nice to be able to speak to women going through the same.”
Freya spent 16 weeks in hospital, where she had eight blood transfusions and suffered with a collapsed lung and sepsis.
Natasha adds: “It was the most terrible time of my life, I was scared and cried most days but she is growing stronger every day.
“She amazes me, at five months old she weighed 8lbs and managed to roll over and put her head up, even the doctor was surprised.
“It is hard to believe she was once so tiny; she still has weekly check-ups for her heart, but she is now a really happy baby.
“She is now 16 months yet still fits in clothing for three to six month old’s and has recently started to crawl.
“We don’t mind that she’s behind with her development though, she’s our little miracle girl.”