Proud parents Sophie and Shiazad Iqbal gaze adoringly at their bouncing baby boy and still can’t quite believe they’ll be celebrating his first birthday in two months’ time.
For little Daniyal – with his strong grip and big smile – was born at 24 weeks, weighing only 1lb 6oz.
The couple, of Mansfield Road in Luton, didn’t even know the sex of their first child until 20 minutes after his traumatic birth on April 14.
Shiazad, 28, said: “I didn’t get to see him. There were so many people around – doctors, nurses, trying to get his breathing going.”
The former Challney Boys pupil added: “My head was spinning, it was everywhere.”
Daniyal was whisked off to the Luton&Dunstable Hospital’s NICU (neo natal intensive care unit).
Sophie, a Debenhams sales adviser, said: “He was the size of my hand. It was scary and I didn’t even want to touch him.
“But the nurses soon get you involved and you start doing things for your baby.”
Shiazad and Sophie, 24, have faced many more heart-wrenching moments since their son was born.
He had a bleed in his head, an infection in his gut and was diagnosed with meningitis, in addition to having a hernia operation.
The tiny tot has stopped breathing several times and contracted bronchiolitis, a respiratory tract infection.
Shiazad said: “We’ve learned to sleep with one ear and one eye open since bringing him home in September.”
Sophie admitted they would never have made it without the L&D’s rapid response team, the caring NICU staff and the paediatric unit.
“They’re amazing,” she said. “They always took time to tell us what was happening, they always gave us feedback.
“When we were upset, they cheered us up.”
Now this grateful mum is asking readers to dig deep.
“They deserve every penny,” she said. “It will mean more happy endings for other families. Every time we look at our baby, he puts a smile on our face.”
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