“My miracle baby was born just under two pounds, now he is 18 and 6ft 4.”
A mother has spoken of her joy after her premature baby boy has grown up to celebrate his 18th birthday as a strong and healthy man.
Kate Fowlds gave birth to son Charlie Fowlds just 27 weeks into her pregnancy after she developed pre-eclampsia - a condition that mainly affects first time mothers.
Charlie was born weighing 1Ib 13oz on April 7, 1996 and was one of Lancashire’s smallest ever babies.
After a harrowing birth and months of medical treatment that saw both mother and child nearly die, the family from Beachley Road, Ingol, Preston, cannot believe their luck.
And 42-year-old single mother Kate wants other mothers in her position to find hope through their story.
She said: “It was all a blur, I just hope anyone in a similar situation can look at us and see that miracles do happen.
“I’m so proud of him. Eighteen years ago I’d never had thought he’d make it to this day. He has grown into such a wonderful man.
“After all we went through I have never considered having another baby - I couldn’t risk leaving Charlie alone in the world like I nearly did.”
Kate was rushed to hospital by her best friend Elaine after suddenly swelling, and her mother Wendy Stretton cannot believe that both her daughter, who lost and regained her sight during the ordeal, and grandson –who was placed in an incubator for weeks - survived the traumatic birth.
She said: “I wouldn’t ever want to go through that three months again - or wish it anybody else.
“When I got to the hospital, the doctor took me to one side and said Kate is our priority right now - we are doing all we can to save your daughter.
“But Charlie pulled through too. I went to visit him in his incubator and he was so tiny, I touched his little hand and he squeezed my finger. I took that as him saying ‘don’t worry grandma I’m going to pull through’.
“Every time he hugs me now I think back to that day and how lucky we are.”
Charlie is currently studying to become a plumber at Preston’s College and Kate who works at Royal Preston Hospital is so proud of her boy.
She said: “I don’t even know if he thinks about or realises how close he was to not being here. He’s just a regular teenager.”
Charlie’s dad Andrew Davies died two years ago after he was trapped under a falling tree.
Wendy said: “They weren’t really in touch before he died but Charlie was at the hospital with him in his final hours.
“Kate has raised Charlie on her own, I’ve looked after Charlie while she worked and they are more like brother and sister.
“I’m so proud of them both and I just hope that someone in a similar position can take heart from their story and see that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”