THE PARENTS and siblings of a premature baby girl want to mark her first birthday after they were told she would never survive.

Baby Iris has only been home with her family since March, despite being born on November 21 last year.

Iris, described by mum, Emma Griffin, is a 'joy', but her first year on earth has been far from easy.

Mrs Griffin, 42, said: "When I was six weeks pregnant we found out Iris had fluid on her lungs. My pregnancy was extremely stressful from that point. We had lost our baby boy just a few months before. Iris was our rainbow baby, but we didn't know how much of a miracle she would turn out to be!

"I had to have surgery whilst she was in the womb to try and drain the fluid from her lungs. I ended up having strong contractions when I was 28 weeks, I was bleeding heavily so we rushed to Worcestershire Royal Hospital and within an hour and a half she was born by emergency c-section.

"It was touch and go from the beginning, within days she was blue lighted to Birmingham Women's Hospital with a collapsed lung, at two weeks old she contracted pneumonia. Everytime we thought she was getting better something else happened and we were told to expect the worse.

"On Boxing Day she began to get really ill, she had an infection and again we were told she wouldn't survive. She even went into cardiac arrest at one point. It was really hard, we were scared. We didn't get to hold her until she was four months old, but we didn't give up and she kept on fighting. She is so very strong."

The proud parents finally got to bring Iris home to meet her four older siblings in March, two days after the national lockdown.

Mrs Griffin said: "It felt unfair we couldn't celebrate properly, obviously Iris is very vulnerable so she was shielding, there are still some people who haven't met her yet. We wanted a huge welcome home party, but of course, that couldn't happen. Now, just before her first birthday, we are in lockdown again! It is such a shame, we really wanted to mark this wonderful milestone.

"Iris turning one is just amazing, because nobody thought she would get there. Her life has been hanging in the balance for so long, we were told she might never be able to walk or talk, but she is now sitting up, beginning to crawl and has even said her first word, 'dada.'

"We are so very proud of our miracle baby, she is a joy, we are looking forward to spending her first birthday together at home as a family."