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30/10/2015 13:40 GMT | Updated 30/10/2015 13:59 GMT

Mum Whose Baby Was Born With Head The 'Size Of A Tangerine' Praises Her 'Miracle' As He Celebrates First Birthday

A baby who was born three months prematurely with a head the "size of a tangerine" is celebrating his first birthday after a turbulent year.

Doctors warned Stacey Dickinson her son Freddie-Lee Lofthouse could be born with birth defects but, despite undergoing life-changing surgery including a five-hour operation on his bowels, Freddie-Lee is now a happy and healthy one-year-old.

Dickinson, 31, said: "I thought if [my son] is going to have something wrong with him, he'll still be my son and I'm still going to look after him.

"I knew he was going to be ok, it's a mother's instinct."

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Freddie-Lee recently defied the odds and celebrated his first birthday

Dickinson previously gave birth to Britney, 13, Harry, 12, Tia, 11, and Alfie, 10, without any difficulties.

But she and partner Russell Lofthouse, 34, were then told she wouldn't be able to conceive again.

"After the third they said I wouldn't be able to conceive because I was diabetic," Dickinson said.

"We stopped thinking about it. We didn't use contraception for ten years because we didn't think it would happen so when I found out I was pregnant, it was a huge shock.

"I just kept saying, 'wow', I couldn't believe it. From that point, I knew our baby was going to be special."

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Dickinson and her four children

During her pregnancy, Dickinson was told it was likely that her baby would born with birth defects.

Dickinson from Preston, Lancashire said: "All my other pregnancies had been plain sailing and my children were all 8lb babies so I didn't believe Freddie-Lee would be any different.

"I went into hospital when I was 29 weeks pregnant for a steroid injection and I was in for a couple of days before they gave me a scan.

"They said the placenta wasn't pumping blood through properly and told me I needed an emergency caesarean.

"It was three months early and I wasn't ready at all because I didn't expect them to rush me down to theatre."

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Freddie-Lee was born three months premature

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When Dickinson awoke from the caesarean on 26 September last year, Freddie-Lee had been taken to a neo-natal care unit, and she didn't see him for another 24 hours.

Freddie-Lee weighed only 2lb 2oz - his head was the "size of a tangerine" and his whole body was the same size as Dickinson's hand.

The mum said: "I didn't get to see him until the next day because they rushed him off to a different unit and my oxygen levels were up and down so they had to monitor me.

"When he came out they did some tests and looked at his limbs and they said he was ok.

"I was back with him a couple of days later. I wasn't allowed to hold him but I would sit with my arm in his incubator and he would grab hold of my finger."

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Doctors at Royal Preston Hospital said Freddie-Lee was fine, but needed to gain strength as he was premature.

But weeks later, Dickinson noticed Freddie-Lee's stomach beginning to swell and she warned doctors something was not right as he had started to turn black.

Dickinson said: "A doctor saw him and did an X-ray where they realised his bowels had exploded.

"His stomach was black and he looked like he had a rugby ball inside him.

"He had swollen up that much that his bowel was pushing up against his lungs and he was starting to have trouble breathing.

"The surgeon told us that if he was left much longer, it would have been a different story."

Freddie-Lee was transferred to Manchester Children's Hospital where he underwent a five-hour operation to stitch his bowels back together.

He was fitted with a stoma to divert his faeces outside of his body. and Dickinson had to syringe excrement out of his tiny body to try and stop further damage to his bowels.

"I had to syringe it out of the bag and syringe the hole to keep it healthy," she said.

"Every time he went to the toilet, I had to constantly do it, otherwise he would have lost parts of his bowel."

Eventually Freddie-Lee was transferred back to Royal Preston Hospital, where he was discharged on 11 December last year - which coincidentally was his due date.

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Freddie-Lee with his dad Russell Lofthouse

Since coming home, Freddie has been back to have his stoma reversed, and he's had no further health problems.

He's also hit every developmental milestone, despite still only weighing 17lb.

Dickinson said: "It was lovely to bring him home, it was a day to remember.

"He's crawling, he's talking, he stands up and he feeds himself. I took him to see the doctor and she could not believe he could sit up on his own and play.

"I think it's because I've got other children and he gets a lot of attention.

"He's a true miracle and a fighter. He's absolutely amazing."

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