Born at 23 weeks, the baby had hands the size of dad’s fingernails

A baby with a one in four chance of survival after being born 17 weeks premature has been described as a miracle after pulling through.

Elsie spent 10 weeks on life support after being born at Royal Oldham Hospital in Greater Manchester on June 17 last year aged 23 weeks weighing just 1lb 10z.

Her small hand was no bigger than her father’s fingernail when she was born after a difficult pregnancy that left her mother bleeding profusely.

Parents Katie and Rob Hampson were shocked eight weeks into the pregnancy when doctors diagnosed the bleeding as a subchorionic hematoma, caused by a pool of blood between the uterine wall and the outer fetal membrane.

Many bruises go away on their own, but Katie, 27, continued to bleed for 15 weeks until Elsie was born 17 weeks premature.

Little Elsie, now ten months old, was born weighing just 1lb 1oz



There was a limit to how much doctors could do to help, as they feared administering medication before Katie was 16 weeks pregnant would affect her placenta and endanger the baby.

After giving birth naturally, medics told Katie and her partner Rob, 32, a home builder, that their daughter only had a 25 percent chance of survival.

But now little Elsie is home and thriving – at a healthier weight of 13lbs 6oz.

Katie, a full-time mother of two from Rochdale, Greater Manchester, said: “It was awful because I just didn’t know if I was going to lose Elsie or not.

Elsie with her parents Katie and Rob Hampson


Matthew Lofthouse SWNS)

“I was living with the unknown so I just couldn’t relax or enjoy my pregnancy and even in the hospital there was no guarantee she was alive.

“After I pushed her out, I sat on the bed and looked at her and then felt uncontrollably nauseous.

“It was shock and worry when we were told she only had a 25 percent chance of survival.

“Her body was the size of Rob’s hand and this photo of her hand on her father’s hand doesn’t even show how small it was – her tiny hand was no bigger than his fingernail.

“She was so tiny but perfectly formed with her little eyelashes, fingernails and toenails. She was tiny like a little doll.

“She’s a small miracle, she overcame and survived so much – it’s a miracle.

“Not even the doctors or nurses had any hope that she would survive, but she’s a little fighter – we’re so proud of her.”

Elsie is now a happy tot



The baby smiles



Rob – father to Madison, 12, from a previous partner, and Poppy, seven, daughter to Katie – found out they were expecting their second child together in February 2021.

Katie said: “We were delighted to find out we were having another baby.

“Rob and I couldn’t wait to expand our family and give Poppy and Madison a baby sibling.”

But just a few weeks into her pregnancy, Katie began bleeding profusely on a daily basis.

She was quickly diagnosed with a subchorionic hematoma and specialists scanned and monitored her during weekly appointments at Rochdale Infirmary.

Born at just 23 weeks, Elsie’s tiny hand was the same size as her father’s fingernail



The risk of having Elsie prematurely was briefly raised during the consultations, but Katie admitted she hoped the subchorionic bleeding would resolve on its own, as it does for most women.

But the bleeding didn’t stop and at 22 weeks Katie was rushed to the hospital where she went into labour.

Katie said: “When the bleeding wouldn’t stop I couldn’t help but panic. I thought it was fine, but it only seemed to get worse – and I worried our baby wouldn’t make it.

“We were so relieved with each passing week – knowing that our unborn daughter would gain strength.”

Labor was made difficult by Katie suffering placental abruption – which occurs when the placenta separates from the inner wall of the uterus before delivery.

Your parents are infatuated



Katie said: “It was far from easy. Even when she arrived we didn’t know if she would survive – she was so tiny and fragile.”

After Elsie’s birth, the worried couple were unable to hold their newborn as he was taken straight to the NICU and put on a ventilator.

Katie said: “I had to wait almost five hours to see Elsie in the incubator and when I finally did I was still in shock. I couldn’t hold her.

“Elsie was so small, she could fit completely in her father’s hand and her hand was the size of his fingernail.

“I was so nervous and didn’t know if she was going to survive at all. Her skin was practically transparent and she was so small.

Parents Katie and Rob Hampson are excited about the future



“It wasn’t how it should have been. It wasn’t like having a newborn baby – some people didn’t even say congratulations because they felt they shouldn’t have congratulated me for having them so early.

“It was very mixed feelings and I was in my own little world the whole trip. I was just praying and hoping for the best.”

The couple describe Elsie’s next few weeks in intensive care as a “stormy ride”.

Katie said: “It’s been a very, very difficult time for us. We just didn’t know if she would pull through.

“One nurse even told me that we both had one of the most traumatic experiences she’s ever had on the ward.”

While Elsie was in hospital, Katie snapped the photo of her doting dad “high-fiving” – which showed the tot’s hand was the same size as his fingernail.

Elsie was kept on a ventilator in the NICU for almost 70 days.

On October 30, 2021 – almost five months after her birth – Elsie had finally gathered enough strength to return home for the first time.

Though celebrating the milestone, Elsie’s parents have been cautious about raising their tot alone.

Katie said: “It was so nice to welcome her home, but it was scary because we had relied on nurses and doctors for so many months.

“They were our comfort blanket and our support system.

“But at the same time it feels amazing, some days we never thought we would get to this point.

“Poppy gets along so well with her, she’s a great big sister and absolutely loves Elsie, it’s so cute to look at.

“Elsie is just about fitting into clothes for a three month old.

Katie revealed she couldn’t be more grateful to the hospital staff for saving Elsie’s life.

She said: “The staff are real angels. Without her, Elsie wouldn’t be here. They should be recognized for their amazing work. You saved my baby’s life.”

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