Family’s joy as premature baby Skylar, born weighing only 1lb 11oz, comes home for Christmas

Brave little Skylar Primrose Knight back home with parents Richard and Caroline in their South Walsham home. Photo: Steve Adams Brave little Skylar Primrose Knight back home with parents Richard and Caroline in their South Walsham home. Photo: Steve Adams

Friday, December 20, 2013
1:16 PM

Born at 25 weeks, Skylar Primrose weighed only 1lb 11oz when she was born premature.

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Skylar Primrose Knight, born at 25 weeks in April 2013. She is now a happy, healthy eight month old coming home for Christmas.Skylar Primrose Knight, born at 25 weeks in April 2013. She is now a happy, healthy eight month old coming home for Christmas.

But after eight months of fighting for survival at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital’s neo natal intensive care unit (NNICU), Richard and Caroline Knight’s baby girl is coming home for Christmas.

Richard and Caroline, who live in South Walsham with their children Som, 10 and Summer, five, were expecting to welcome their third baby into the world on July 26.

But mid-way through Caroline’s pregnancy, the unimaginable happened.

The 37-year-old, who grew up in Norwich, went to the doctor when she thought her waters had broken early. It was initially thought to be nothing serious, but within days it was clear their baby was on the way.

Brave little Skylar Primrose Knight back home with parents Richard and Caroline in their South Walsham home. Photo: Steve AdamsBrave little Skylar Primrose Knight back home with parents Richard and Caroline in their South Walsham home. Photo: Steve Adams

After five days at Luton and Dunstable Hospital in Bedfordshire waiting for something to happen, a space was found at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital’s neo natal intensive care unit (NNICU).

There was several false starts, but on April 13 Skylar arrived and her long battle for survival began.

She weighed just 1lb and 11oz, barely more than a pint of milk.

Bringing her into the world was a risky procedure - Caroline’s life was also at risk, but both mum and baby pulled through.

From day one, doctors prepared the family for the worst.

“We were told that there was a 30 per cent of survival and of that 30 per cent, only a 10 per cent chance she would not have brain damage,” said 38-year-old Richard, an offshore worker who grew up in Great Yarmouth, attending Great Yarmouth High School.

“They said babies born earlier than 24 weeks were classed as a miscarriage so the longer I kept her in the better chance she had,” said Caroline.

Within minutes of being born, Skylar faced an uphill struggle.

She was put on a ventilator to keep her lungs inflated as doctors fought to keep oxygen pumping around her body.

She had wires “coming out of every vein and artery” and had to be fed with a sugar solution as she was simply too small to feed.

Caroline, whose other two children were born full term weighing 8lb and 10lbs, was almost reluctant to meet her baby at first.

“I think it was a bit of self-preservation - in case we lost her,” said Richard.

“I just couldn’t believe it was happening,” said Caroline.

“I thought I was dreaming. I was waiting for someone to pinch me and I’d wake up.”

“People say it’s like being on a roller coaster,” added Richard.

“What they don’t tell you is it’s actually like being on a roller coaster while being dragged backwards by your heels.”

The day after Skylar was born, Richard went home to explain what was happening to Som and Summer, who both attend Fairhaven CofE Primary School.

“We had to remember it was all alien to them as well,” he said.

“I told them she was so excited to come home she’d arrived early, but she wasn’t big enough yet so the hospital had put her in a plastic mum to help her grow.

“When they came to see her, the first thing Summer said was that she looked like a chicken.

“For me, that was amazing. She saw past all the tubes and machines, the wires and scary things. They were both just so happy to have a sister.”

Slowly, Skylar - whose name means eternal life, love, strength and beauty - continued to grow and develop. It has not been easy and over the past eight months she has needed five blood transfusions, had to battle viruses and infections, and needed steroids and vaccinations.

Only three weeks ago Skylar had to be revived after food became stuck in her throat and she stopped breathing.

“It is just one thing after another,” said Richard.

“There have been some really tough decisions, some very tough days.

“We knew the ventilator would cause damage to her lungs and cause Chronic Lung Disease but it was either that or not have her with us at all. It was the lesser of two evils.

“We just had to trust the doctors because they do this every day.

“That didn’t mean we weren’t asking questions all the time. If someone if going to inject your daughter, you want to know what’s in it so we were constantly trying to understand and process everything that was happening.”

In July, Skylar was booked to have an operation at Great Ormand Street Hospital in London. It was yet another risky procedure; this time to clamp shut a valve in her heart, a condition known as Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA).

Richard and Caroline were “frustrated” when a three day wait became three weeks, but the day before the surgery a scanned showed the valve was closing by itself and the operation was no longer needed.

A few months later, Skylar was strong enough to move to the children’s ward at the hospital and this week, she spent her first night at home.

All going well, she will be released from hospital on Monday – just in time for Christmas Day.

Caroline and Richard don’t feel “out of the woods” yet – Skylar has just caught a cold which means she is back on a ventilator and having to be partly fed via a tube again, but having their happy, smiling daughter at home in December 25 is a day they feared would not come.

“When she’s well, she is a really happy and content little baby,” said Caroline.

“When you see her smile, it just melts you.”

The family want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped so far, including Skylar’s grandparents and cousin Samuel Warner. The 11-year-old. who lives in Hemel Hempstead, raised more than £2,000 for his cousin and other premature babies with a 32-mile sponsored cycle ride.

Richard’s mum Dorothy said: “We would like to sincerely thanks all the staff at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit (NNICU) and the Children’s ward for their nursing skills and dedication in caring for Skylar Primrose.

“It has been a long struggle for Skylar but she is certainly a little fighter.”


  • So glad that there is a light at the end of the tunnel in this family - best wishes to all. Perhaps the tidings of good joy and best wishes need to spread to the odd-named 'V'. Can I suggest stones and glass houses?!? How lovely to consider the meaning behind a name - a thoughtful gift for a child which was not believed to be long on this earth. Yes, we really need more Tea&Biscuits -someone needs a sugar hit!! Merry Christmas to all.

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    May G.

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • Hi and congratulations! What a cute miracle you have! I know only too well the difficulties you have faced, my son was a 25wker 1lb 7oz who had PDA, NEC, lots of sepsis, brain bleeds, op at 12 days for broviac line weighing 1lb 3oz so is my miracle! came home on 23rd dec 10yrs ago! Can't believe its been so long! He too came home on oxygen due to lung disease, sats and apnea alarms as still had apneas and braddies which he still does due to genetic issues, also had ng tube as couldn't feed, then had gastrostomy and now has a jejunostomy tube and we have to drain his stomach as it doesn't work but despite his medical issues which many are genetic and old of had anyway! He is in mainstream school with support, happy and charges about with the other lads, he as his feed pump in a rucksack that people don't notice. He needed oxygen for 8yrs on and off but got there in the end but again genetic issues aswell as prem issues were a problem. He has had 23 ops so far and we go to gosh regularly but he is amazing! These tiny babies are much stronger than we think! You will have tough days with more admissions with chest issues probably but your baby will become stronger all the time! Enjoy Xmas together, we spent a few in hospital but it didn't matter in the end as long as he was ok, just tough on other kids. Reading this has taken me right back! All the best to you all xx

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    Monday, December 23, 2013

  • God bless this little lady, and all the very best to Mum and Dad. As to "V", as soon as one sees this sign, just don't bother to read the drivel that heshe writes, it doesn't make any sense so why does heshe bother to comment? I am quite sure The Mercury could filter this idiot out if they so wished.

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    Edmund Earle

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • " V " should have been banned ages ago together with the multi-account troll who operates him.

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    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • "V" I think your quotes comments on articles are a better way of showing intelligence, or lack of it! Can you not just crawl back under your rock and let readers enjoy Christmas without your brainless comments?

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    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • She is a real cutie,and all preemies are real fighters .hope the family have a lovely christmas

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    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • Thank you moderator. This family deserves support not selfish and hurtful comments.

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    May G.

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • Thank you "V" for your comments about our children's names, they all have a specific meaning to us so that's why we picked them. As for being "stupid" well that's just being disrespectful, so in response to that the only reply I have for that is the only stupid thing here is you making those type of comments. It's entertaining to see you being a keyboard warrior, and future comments will confirm the type of lonely person you are. Have a great Christmas, and good luck for the future.... I think you'll need it

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    Saturday, December 21, 2013

  • Well said knightsy!

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    Sunday, December 22, 2013

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