When little Harley-Jack Hallam was born he weighed less than two pounds – but after a brave fight for life he is now a happy youngster who is nearly ready for his third birthday.
Harley-Jack, from Hackenthorpe, was born almost three months early at 24 weeks, and spent more than 180 days in the Jessop maternity wing’s special care unit where his mum Adele Crookes and dad James Hallam endured a tense wait for him to pull through.
Adele puts her son’s survival down to the skills of the staff on the ward – and on Sunday she is taking on a daredevil skydiving challenge by jumping 15,000 feet from a plane in aid of the Sheffield Hospitals Charity.
“Harley-Jack is fine now – he is brilliant, really happy and loves to sing and dance,” said Adele, 22.
“I just want to raise as much as I can as a thank you on behalf of me and my son.”
Adele said there was no apparent reason for her premature birth and her pregnancy had been progressing normally until she suddenly went into labour.
“There was nothing wrong with me or the baby, it was just one of those things that happens. I didn’t know I was in labour, but I felt unwell and couldn’t sleep.
“If I hadn’t rung the midwife I don’t know what could have happened – I could have had Harley at home and then he wouldn’t be here today.”
Her tiny baby was placed into an incubator straight away following his birth in December 2011, and neither Adele or James – also 22 and a training manager for a bookmakers – were able to hold their son for two weeks.
“The consultant was telling me my baby could have died, or have Down’s Syndrome or cerebral palsy, and I didn’t want to hear it,” said the mum.
“It was horrible not being able to hold him, because he was just in a little box. He was just so tiny and fragile.
“It was touch and go, we nearly lost him a few times. Around Christmas 2011 he had to be resuscitated because he stopped breathing.”
At three months old, Harley-Jack also needed laser eye surgery, because the amount of oxygen in his incubator was harming his sight.
“The doctors do daily check-ups on premature babies, and if they had not have picked this up when they did then he would also actually have been blind.”
Harley-Jack finally went home the following May and needed oxygen at first while he built up his strength out of hospital.
“It was unreal getting him home after all we had been through,” said Adele.
“We had to wrap him up in cotton wool a bit, but he does not need the oxygen now.”
The two-year-old was joined 10 months after his birth by little brother Max, also premature at 37 weeks.
“It’s like having twins, they bounce off each other. It’s helped Harley as well, having a younger sibling,” Adele added.
Adele said she was ‘really excited’ about the skydive, taking place at Hibaldstow in Lincolnshire, and expects to raise £700, after exceeding her initial target of £400.
“I’ve always fancied doing a skydive but I don’t know what it will be like until I get up there!”
n Visit www.justgiving.com/adele-crookes to sponsor.