Premature twins Grace and Olivia Oman have defied the odds to start school. The little girls, who should have been triplets, were smaller than the palm of their mom's hand and weighed just one pound and 14 ounces when they were born three months early in July 2013.
Doctors told parents Vicki, 32, and Mark, 30, from Morpeth, Northumberland in England, there was very little chance the tiny tots would even live an hour.
Grace and Olivia were just one pound and 14 ounces when they were born. (Photo Credit: SWNS)
She said, "We can't quite believe we have got to this point; it is quite surreal. We are so lucky to have them here."
"The doctors didn't know if they would survive an hour, never mind four years and having them start at school. They have come on so far."
The tiny tots, pictured with their older brother Jake, weren't expected to survive. (Photo Credit: SWNS)
They have defied the odds to survive and are now starting school. (Photo Credit: SWNS)
"They came into the world fighting. They are very determined little girls and don't give up easily. They take everything that's been thrown at them on the chin."
Vicki and Mark, who also have 6-year-old son, Jake, were originally due to have triplets, but sadly, the third baby, who the couple named Eleanor, died when she was 14 weeks pregnant.
While still grieving for the loss, the waters around Grace then broke, and it was feared the family would lose her too because her lungs wouldn't develop properly without the fluid.
But the waters built back up and everything seemed stable.
Grace, pictured with proud parents Vicki and Mark, has needed surgery to help her breathe. (Photo Credit: SWNS)
Then, at 26 weeks, Vicki was rushed to Wansbeck General Hospital with contractions, and in the early hours of July 26, she gave birth to the identical twin girls.
The twins were born just over an hour apart in July 2013, weighing just one pound and 14 ounces and the couple were warned it would be touch and go whether they would survive.
They were transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit at Middlesbrough's James Cook Hospital, where they stayed for the next 14 weeks.
Grace had to stay in intensive care for longer than her sister. (Photo Credit: SWNS)
The brave little girl had to have an operation to help her breathe. (Photo Credit: SWNS)
But on November 6, 2013, the twins were split up when Olivia was discharged and Grace was moved to Newcastle's RVI, because she still had problems breathing.
At the age of just eight weeks and weighing just three pounds, Grace was fitted with a tracheostomy — a surgically made hole that goes through the front of the neck into the trachea, or windpipe, to help with breathing.
Vicki said it will be an emotional day when her miracle babies start school. (Photo Credit: SWNS)
She was allowed home for the first time when she was nine months old and has since had the tracheostomy removed, following reconstructive surgery of her airway using rib cartilage.
The brave youngster is beginning to live a normal life and her speech — hindered by her ordeal — is beginning to develop.
Vicki said they are now looking to the future as the girls have reached the milestone of starting school.
She said, "We still have some small hurdles to face, especially Grace, but we will continue to get through them like we have the last four-and-a-half years."
"We don't take anything for granted and know how lucky we are to have them with us."
"They are looking forward to starting school; it is going to be an emotional day and there will be tears."
This post was written by Lucy Waterlow. For more, check out our sister site, Closer.