A heartbroken mum has shared how her premature baby girl squeezed her finger one last time to "say she was ready to go."
Little Lyra Lawson was born on February 7, 12 weeks before her due date, and despite battling hard for life she succumbed to a series of medical complications on March 30.
Despite their devastation her parents, Kimberley O'Shea and Paul Lawson, are sharing Lyra's story to express their enormous gratitude to staff at Liverpool Women's Hospital neo-natal unit who guided them through the hardest of journeys.
The news that Kimberley, 37, was pregnant felt like the granting of a miracle to 40-year-old Paul, who had thought he may never be a dad.
Kimberley told the ECHO: "Paul had been through IVF with a previous partner, so Lyra just came literally out of the blue. "
But Lyra suffered a perforated bowel and later kidney damage and despite "defying the record books" and surviving for 52 says – her tiny body could not take any more.
Kimberley said: "We kept asking when she would go, and we kept getting told when you know you will know.
"She touched so many hearts, everyone on the ward said she was a little diva, she kept defying expectations and they said she re-wrote the record books.
"She would sleep with her arms above her head and no-one would be able to move them.
"I think we were in a little bit of denial, I don't think we realised the gravity and how sick she really was. We were hoping for a miracle."
Walton couple Kimberley and Paul had seen Lyra fight off a series of setbacks, and had seen her condition improve, but when her kidney function began to deteriorate it became clear Lyra would not survive.
She said: "Nothing was working, none of the medical interventions were working, it was like she was telling us her body was just too tired.
"I said 'when she is ready to go she will let me know, and at that moment she squeezed my finger."
Paul added: "She was just ready… I said to my parents she is my first born, what an experience of fatherhood to go through."
Since their loss, Paul and Kimberley wanted to ensure Lyra left a lasting legacy by raising money for the neo-natal team.
Kimberley says little, human touches meant the world to her family – such as one nurse filling a small bottle full of the bubble bath from Lyra's first bath as a keepsake.
She said: "Before she came we knew very little about the world of premature babies but had to learn quickly and we are so grateful that we had the world-class care of the Neonatal Intensive Care team at Liverpool Women’s Hospital to guide us every step of the way, on a journey that no baby or parent should have to go on.
"From day one Lyra needed the support of too many machines and medications to count. This equipment costs thousands of pounds but everything she needed was just there without question, set up so quickly and quietly that you hardly even noticed, by the kind of medical staff who were truly angels without wings.
"Never fussing, never hurrying, never complaining and nothing too much trouble for this precious baby who they treated around the clock as if she were their own.
"Their care for Lyra was beyond what we could ever describe but their care for us at the most worrying time of our lives meant just as much.
"They were always there guiding and teaching us how to be involved from day one, making sure we understood what was happening and even checking that we had eaten – when they hadn’t had time to themselves.
If you have been affected by any of the details mentioned in this story there are people who can help you.
Most people grieve when they lose something or someone important to them.
The way grief affects you depends on lots of things, including what kind of loss you have suffered, your upbringing, your beliefs or religion, your age, your relationships, and your physical and mental health.
Grieving is a totally normal process but there are way to get help if you need support.
Your GP is a good place to start. They can give you advice about other support services, refer you to a counsellor, or prescribe medication if needed.
Or you can contact support organisations directly, such as Cruse Bereavement Care (0808 808 1677) Samaritans (116 123) or Love Jasmine.
"No parent should ever have to know about the work that goes on behind the scenes to look after these babies but thank God it is there."
So far the couple have raised £1,335 for the unit, smashing their original target of £500.
Anyone wishing to donate can do so here.