Little Aimee thriving against all odds despite being born at 24 weeks
SHE was so small when she was born that her daddy was able to fit his wedding band over her wrist and slide it all the way up her arm.
However, tiny Aimee Laura Hennessy -- who was born a fortnight ago at 24 weeks -- is the talk of Limerick's maternity hospital, where her parents are watching her grow and gain strength each day.
Born to Nicola and John Hennessy from Kilmallock, Co Limerick, on January 6 -- 16 weeks before she was expected -- their first child weighed in at 1lb 5oz.
First-born babies on average arrive between 38 and 40 weeks.
Doting mum Nicola said Aimee had put on an ounce since birth.
"It is still day-to-day and can be a rollercoaster, but she has done well the last few days.
"I went into the hospital over Christmas, two weeks beforehand. I was on complete bed rest because they knew it wasn't right."
She said her daughter's lungs and infections were the main concerns for staff.
"At 24 weeks, that is their viability date -- that is the baseline for survival. I got injections to try and strengthen her lungs for the weeks before she arrived.
"She was born so premature, the lungs weren't formed properly. They are her big battle," Nicola said.
Wearing a tiny pink-and-white hat, Aimee lies in a ventilator where she has shown the heart of a fighter despite her tiny frame.
"She is incubated. She is there the whole time," Nicola said.
"The other big fear is infection. She doesn't have the greatest immune system so we have to try and keep that at bay.
"They change the incubator once a week. So they changed it last Friday and I got a little cuddle for about five minutes -- it was great," she said.
"She's very small, but her legs are quite long -- it is deceptive. She is about 11 inches long."
She added: "When she was born, John's wedding band fit the whole way over her wrist and up her arm. She'd be about the size of an envelope. 'Little Thumbelina' is her nickname, but hopefully that won't stick."
Mum admitted that her baby had already displayed a strong character.
"She is a little madam already, she is feisty out. If she doesn't like something, she is not long letting them (nurses) know about it. I suppose she could be taking after me or maybe it's a combination of the two of us -- mum and dad."
Each morning, Aimee's parents travel to the maternity hospital in Limerick to be with their daughter.
Nicola said Aimee's grandparents had spoiled their granddaughter.
"She got a load of presents -- clothes, teddies, the whole lot. She has a collection of story books inside in the hospital. I don't know what we'll do with them all -- we'll have to put up a shelf for them."
The mother said her daughter could not have better staff to watch over her.
"They are brilliant. I couldn't praise them highly enough -- they are absolutely brilliant. Every single one of them is doing great work inside there. She has a different nurse every second or third day and they are so good with her.
"They know all her little quirks, they know that she doesn't like her nappy being wet and all that. The care she is getting is unbelievable, so hopefully she will keep responding."
Canon Willie Fitzmaurice from Kilmallock, who gave a blessing to Aimee at the hospital, said she was proving to be an inspiration to all.
"She is a wonder in herself. Every day that she is making progress, there is greater hope for her. We are all praying and thinking for her and her parents," he said.