A BARRHEAD mum has spoken of her joy at seeing her son begin his first day at primary school, after being born three months premature.

When he was born in August 2013, Benjamin Slicer weighed just 860 grams and his parents feared he wouldn’t survive the week. But five years on, he is healthy, happy and has just entered P1 at St Mark’s Primary – and his mum, Eileen Horsley, can’t believe it.

Eileen, 36, began experiencing complications with her pregnancy around 20 weeks in. 

She and her partner David, 32, were told the odds were not looking good for the baby, who eventually arrived at 27 weeks and was put in an incubator.

Eileen said: “We were terrified. He was born with different health issues, especially his lungs. We didn’t want to convince ourselves he would be OK, because then it would be harder to let go if the worst happened. 

“It was scary to watch. I was discharged after three weeks and it was hard to go home without him.

“At one point he took an infection and we were told to prepare for bad news. Then, at a certain point, they announced that they thought he would be OK.

“His lungs started working a bit better, he was taken off the ventilator and just before his due date he hit his target weight and was allowed to come home.”

Looking back, Eileen can hardly believe that frail and sickly infant is the same healthy, happy youngster who just started school.

She said: “We naturally expected him to have a lot of problems with development, some learning difficulties, but as he got older it became apparent that he was fine. 

“If I’d known at the time that it was possible for someone born so early to turn out okay I’d have taken a wee bit of hope from it.

“At the time all we could do was wonder which problems he would have. There was this constant fear. It’s scary enough being a new parent without all that.”

Now a bright and cheerful five-year-old, Benjamin loves football, dancing and Hot Wheels cars, and was excited to start school.

Eileen said: “It was a proud moment to see him in his uniform. He was skipping in on the first day. 

“He loves learning and he’s so bright - I don’t know where he gets that from. I know it’s a cliche that everyone thinks their child is exceptional, but he’s a gem. A wee miracle.”