Little Ellis Rogers will open his fifth birthday presents with glee today - a milestone doctors feared he might never reach.
When Ellis was born on Boxing Day 2013, mum Emma was only 24 weeks pregnant and Ellis was so tiny that he was placed into a padded Tesco freezer bag to keep him warm.
The first time she held him was New Year’s Eve, and each year since then they have shared a cuddle at that time to remember Ellis’ fight to survive. This year will be no different, and it’s a special time that Emma and Matt look forward to.
But the time will be tinged with sadness as parents Emma Gawthorpe and Matt Rogers remember their twin girls, Remi and Star, who died two months ago when Emma went into labour.
She was just 22 weeks gone, and the babies were not able to survive.
Because of his premature birth, Ellis remains very fragile. He only has a small circle of small vision in one eye, has poor mobility, and is fed through a tube.
But proud mum Emma said he is a very clever and happy boy who was looking forward to Christmas and his birthday.
Emma, 25, from Thornton, said: “We will talk about Remi and Star and we’ll think about what it would have been like if they were here.
“Today will be all about Ellis. He’ll have his separate birthday presents because, of course, joint Christmas and birthday presents are strictly banned, and we’ll have our own little family party.
“We were so excited about our little girls, and it will be sad knowing they won’t be here with us. But we will make sure Ellis has the best time ever.”
Ellis’s future is still uncertain, so Emma and Matt are determined his life is as happy as can be.
He enjoys going to Highfurlong School in Whitegate Drive, Blackpool, and spending time at Brian House Children’s Hospice, in Low Moor Road, Bispham, where Remi and Star were also looked after in the Butterfly Suite.
Emma said: “When I went into labour with Ellis, four months early, we were terrified. We didn’t even meet Ellis until he was six hours old and we were told he could die at any minute. He was so fragile and weighed less than two pounds.
“Ellis stayed in hospital until March, and it’s unbelievable to think how far he’s come since then.
“We’re so proud of him, and although there will be times that we’re sad this Christmas thinking of our beautiful girls, we will mostly be happy about our amazing little boy and how he is here to enjoy this extra special time of year.”