Premature baby born smaller than a human hand returns home

Sofia and her parents
Sofia and her parents

A premature baby who was smaller than a hand when she was born at 22 weeks is thriving at home after more than four months in hospital.

Sofia Viktoria Birina weighed just 1.1lb when she was born on October 2 last year, although she was not due until February 1, 2021.

She was given just a 10% chance of survival in labour and even less chance of surviving beyond that but became one of the youngest ever surviving premature babies in the UK and finally went home on February 10.

Mother Egija Birina and father Inars were shocked when their daughter entered the world so early, at University Hospital Wishaw in North Lanarkshire.

Baby Sofia1 (002)

She said: “Everything was fine at the 20-week scan. Then just over a week later, I felt pain so I went into hospital and was told that I was already dilated and had to go into labour.

“After 10 days’ bed rest our beloved daughter Sofia made an appearance. She arrived in the world with the biggest scream and was crying so much.

“We didn’t expect she would survive but that’s where our journey started.

“Sofia was literally the size of a hand, so fragile and small and her skin was see-through. I had to wait a week to hold her for the first time because she was so fragile. Once I was able to hold her, they couldn’t get her out of my hands.”

The little girl spent her first three months in an incubator and battled a range of health issues, from heart defect to stage one brain bleeds, an eye disease, retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) and numerous infections.

She needed seven blood transfusions and also had some treatment at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow.

Sofia had respiratory distress symptom as her lungs were not fully developed which led to her being ventilated to help her breathe and even now she is home she has a little tube attached to give her extra oxygen.

To all other mummies going into such an early labour, there is hope

Egija Birina

Her mother said: “I was at the hospital all the time. Some days as long as 16 hours, and my husband would come after work. I just didn’t want to leave her, especially on the many really tough days when we didn’t think Sofia would make it.

“We want to thank all the staff from maternity ward, newborn intensive care unit and special care baby unit at Wishaw and Glasgow Children’s Hospital. They have saved me and my little miracle.

“They have done so much for us and they will always be our family and forever in our hearts. We will miss them so much.

“Some of the staff were surprised I was coming in every day with a smile on my face but I wanted to be strong for Sofia. I didn’t want her to see me cry and I never cried in front of her until she was strong enough to go into a cot. Then I had a good, happy cry.”

Sofia will now have follow-up checks at the hospital for the next two years and check-ups at the lung clinic for three or four years but her mother said that “everything is moving in the right direction”.

Mrs Birina, who is originally from Latvia but has lived in Airdrie for the last 12 years, said: “Sofia has been doing great since we got home. She has the biggest and most beautiful smile on her face and is getting used to her new surroundings.”

She added: “To all other mummies going into such an early labour, there is hope. Never give up. I want to share this story as I can give hope to other mums who are expecting so early.”

Cheryl Clark, NHS Lanarkshire chief midwife said: “Baby Sofia is such an inspiration and we are so happy she is now home with her family.”

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