Little Emmy Phillips has overcome the odds to join her big sisters at school.
Along with hundreds of other youngsters, the excited four year old will spend her first day in the classroom next Tuesday when the new session begins.
But it’s an occasion that her parents, Fiona and Stuart, feared they might never see.
Emmy weighed just 1lb 12oz when she was born 14 weeks early.
Her life hung in the balance for weeks but the tiny tot battled back and pulled through.
Now she is a lively, chatty youngster who is eagerly awaiting the day she can start school.
She will join big sisters Romy (8), Anya (7) and Iana (6) at Maddiston Primary.
Preparing to wave her tiny daughter off on her big day, Fiona (42) said: “I’m sure that I’ll shed a tear. It’s always a big step when your child starts school but I’m really feeling it this time with Emmy.
“I think it’s because we were told it was touch and go when she was born. In those days we just hoped she would pull through. We never imagined that we would see her skipping off down the path and going to a mainstream school.
“She truly is a little fighter. Still tiny but bright as a button. It’s just been incredible.”
Fiona’s pregnancies had never gone to full term at 40 weeks. Romy was born a couple of weeks early, Anya at 30 weeks and Iana at 32 weeks. However, all the girls came on in leaps and bounds.
She added: “When I was expecting Emmy I knew there was a good chance she would be early, but didn’t quite expect it to happen just so quick.”
Fiona was under the care of medical staff at St John’s Hospital in Livingston, but when it became clear her baby was going to make an early arrival she was whisked through to the Simpson Memorial Maternity Hospital in Edinburgh.
Fiona said: “My waters had broken and although they had hoped to keep me from delivering for a few more weeks, I got a massive infection and was rushed into hospital for an emergency caesarean section.
“She was in an incubator and we were told the first 24 hours were the most dangerous. But with every day that passed she got a little stronger. There were a few setbacks along the way, including when she had a small bleed on the brain, but she battled on.”
Stuart (40) was working abroad when his fourth daughter was born and had to make a dramatic dash home to see her.
She was so tiny her head fitted in the palm of her parents’ hands and her dad’s wedding ring could slip right up her arm.
Emmy was in hospital for 14 weeks before being allowed home to Rumford, weighing 5lb 10oz.
Meanwhile, Fiona, a former employee with Tesco at the Central Retail Park, Falkirk, was juggling looking after three other daughters, while travelling back and forward to hospital spending time with her new baby. Thankfully, her mum, Rena Hunter of Redding, stepped in to help.
She said: “It was difficult, but when she was transferred to St John’s it was a bit easier. Emmy was three weeks old before we got our first chance to hold her. Thankfully, Stuart got a cuddle with her before he had to fly back to work.”
Doctors then discovered that the tot had two holes in her heart. She still has one but it is being monitored.
Fiona has since had another daughter Aela (2) who weighed 2lb 5oz when she was born 10 weeks early.
“Somehow that didn’t seem small after Emmy,” she laughed.
Emmy and her sisters are all livewires and love their lessons with Central Scotland Ballet School and Linlithgow School of Gymnastics.
Last year, their smiles and giggles featured on TV in an advert for Bold 2-in-1 washing powder.
Around 80,000 babies are born prematurely in the UK each year and around half need to be treated in intensive care.