Chrystal the miracle baby: 15 years later

Baby Chrystal Henson in the intensive care unit of Waikato Hospital, about one and half months after being born.
PETER DRURY/Stuff

Baby Chrystal Henson in the intensive care unit of Waikato Hospital, about one and half months after being born.

When Chrystal Henson was born at Waikato Hospital on July 9, 2002, Michelle Robertson thought there were no guarantees her daughter would survive to see the next day.

Born 14 weeks premature, Chrystal weighed just 390 grams and could fit in the palm of her father's hand. 

Fast forward to 2017, and the Verdon College student from Wallacetown is celebrating her 15th birthday. 

When 15-year-old Chrystal Henson was born in 2002, she weighed less than a 500g block of butter.
Tim Newman/Stuff

When 15-year-old Chrystal Henson was born in 2002, she weighed less than a 500g block of butter.

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Chrystal, whose favourite school subjects are woodwork and English, said it was hard to look at photos of herself as a newborn. 

"It just looks like something completely different."

While most babies born after 26 weeks are expected to weigh at least 700 grams, Chrystal was nearly half that weight. 

The doctors had opted for an emergency caesarean section when it was discovered Chrystal had stopped growing in the womb, due to her not getting enough blood supplied through the umbilical cord. 

She was in intensive care for three-and-a-half months before she was able to come home.

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Robertson said it was a very tough experience for a new mum. 

"The first week I went home, it was very stressful. I was always getting up and worrying about her.

"You can tell the difference from being a mum, bringing them up and feeding and changing them.

"Changing Chrystal when she was a baby was nerve-racking for a while, until you got used to it.

"You just felt like you'd break her, she was so fine. You had to be so careful."

Robertson, who was born and raised in Invercargill, moved back to Southland with Chrystal in 2005. 

The early years raising Chrystal had been a challenge, Robertson said. 

"We just took it day by day; when she put weight on, she put weight on.

"The things I'd gotten for her before she was born wouldn't even fit until she was about one and a half.

"After she started to go to school, she started changing the way she learnt about things and learning about life.

"It hasn't really affected her, she's just gotten on with life in her own way ... It was a challenge but the challenge was worth going through." 

 - Stuff

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