AS little Mischa Liggett excitedly counts the hours until her Barbie-themed birthday party, her parents simply count their blessings that their ‘miracle’ daughter is alive and loving life.
It was in 2007 that Mischa made her dramatic entrance to the world, arriving three months early and weighing in at just 1lb 12 ozs, less than a bag of sugar.
But yesterday (Thursday), the Moy Road girl celebrated her fifth birthday, and another milestone - having recently started P1 in Richmount Primary School.
It was ‘touch and go’ for the first 48 hours of the little girl’s life, with the tiny baby spending eight and a half weeks in hospital, before being allowed home on Christmas Eve.
Mischa, whose second name is Hope, is the daughter of Mark and Julie-Ann (nee Woolsey) and granddaughter of Don Woolsey, who owns Scotch Street Filling Station.
Said Julie-Ann, “Mischa was born at 28 weeks as I had the dangerous condition of pre-eclampsia. I also had IUGR (intra uterine growth restriction) and Mischa had stopped growing at 25 weeks so she was only the weight of a 25 weeker.
“She truly is a miracle not only because she survived but because she has not suffered from any long-term effects which premature babies are at high risk of, especially ‘micro preemies’ under 1 kg.
“Mischa starting school was truly an emotional day for me and my husband. When she was born, she looked incredibly fragile - her skin was see-through, we could see the tubes inserted into her veins and arteries going straight to her heart and her eyes were even still fused together.
“She didn’t belong in the real world yet; she should still have been developing inside my womb but if either of us were going to survive she had to be born that day.”
She added, “We remember just like it was yesterday sitting by her incubator watching all the monitors, our hearts missing a beat every time the alarms went off. I will never ever forget the sound of the alarms not just for Mischa but for all the other babies in the unit.
“We sat hoping she would survive one more hour then one more day. Then as she grew stronger every week was a gift. This is why we gave her the middle name of ‘Hope’. We were scared to even dream about milestones like starting school that other parents may take for granted as we were warned that due to being born so early there are many mental and physical disabilities that premature babies go on to have.
“We didn’t even think about that, just concentrated on her strengthening her lungs to be able to breathe for herself and her feeding to put on weight. Every ounce was celebrated.
“To have got to this day we feel truly blessed and are so proud of Mischa. For a little baby girl so tiny who could have fitted in our hand she fought so hard and did so well she was discharged after eight and a half weeks in the neonatal unit, even though she wasn’t due to be born until January 12.”
According to Julie-Ann, Mischa loves school and has settled in brilliantly. “She is very independent and doesn’t want me to even bring her up to the school doors anymore. For such a small girl she has amazing confidence and is very sociable, with loads of new friends of all ages already. I love to see her like that as she is still smaller than most girls her age and I was so shy at school myself,” she said.
“Mischa is so full of the life she fought so hard for,. She literally cannot sit still for five minutes. She loves animals, dancing and spending time playing with her cousins and friends. Her imagination is amazing; she is constantly making up stories and playing them out. Her favourite is being a doctor and she loves the C Beebies series Get Well Soon.
“We always have a big party on her birthday as it is a date we want to celebrate and forget how traumatic it was five years ago. Mischa is a happy little girl who loves life and she brings such joy into our lives every day. She is an inspiration to us.”