When Carly-Rose Walker from Loanhead sets off for her first day at school in August her lunchbox in her satchel will likely weigh more than she did when she was born.
At just 1lb 3oz and an astonishing 17 weeks premature, the tiny tot was not expected to survive the night.
Mum Michelle Coleman (35) and dad Colin Walker (31) were told that if Carly-Rose survived she would have brain damage, cerebral palsy and be in a wheelchair for her whole life.
But Carly-Rose has defied all the odds and celebrates her fifth birthday today (Thursday) as a “healthy and happy wee girl”.
The first weeks of Carly-Rose’s life were “terrifying” – at only four weeks old the newborn underwent a life saving operation which she had a 20 per cent chance of surviving.
The next eight months were spent in the high-dependency unit of the Sick Kids hospital.
Her recovery was slow with many infections causing setbacks, the worst of which was on her first Christmas Eve.
Carly-Rose’s mum Michelle said: “On Christmas Eve she caught an infection that was going to turn into sepsis – it was a really bad one.
“It was the worst experience – it was her first Christmas and I thought she was going to die before she got to see it.”
Carly-Rose fought through and was finally able to go home, with life support, the following March.
Michelle handled all of Carly-Rose’s daily care which involved learning to insert a feeding tube into her tiny body and having an oxygen machine in their house.
Looking back on these challenging years, Michelle said: “I don’t know how I coped, I just knew she needed me so I just had to get up and do what she needed, I didn’t have time to think about how scared I was.”
Michelle and Colin’s other children, Kaiden (8), Erin (12) and Skye (15) were all under 10 at the time of Carly-Rose’s birth.
Michelle said: “It was hard on the other kids, especially Kaiden who was three at the time, and was constantly asking where his mummy was.
“All the children knew she was fragile and tried to look after her and they still look out for her now. They are all very close.”
As Carly-Rose celebrates her fifth birthday today, she has come along leaps and bounds in the last few years.
Michelle said: “She has not needed to be in hospital over the last two years – if she gets a cold now she just deals with it.”
Now, Carly-Rose is busy getting ready for her first day at Paradykes Primary School in Loanhead after the summer holidays. Michelle was worried that her daughter wouldn’t be ready for the big move to primary school.
She said: “I kept thinking the nursery were going to say she’s not quite ready but her teachers say she is 100 per cent ready to start school.
“She’s a good wee girl, she’s happy in herself, content playing about – everyone says ‘look how content she is’, she’s a happy wee bairn.”
Carly-Rose is really excited to join big brother Kaiden at primary school after the summer.
Michelle said: “Every day she says she is so excited to start school, she’s really looking forward to playing with her brother in the playground.”