A BABY born four months prematurely has finally arrived home after a gruelling fight to survive.

Tiny Elena Forder was just 1lb 5oz when she was born at Queen Alexandra Hospital’s maternity unit in Portsmouth on October 8 last year.

The tot, who was the size of mum Sarah’s hand, then spent 97 days at two neonatal intensive care units (NICU) before she was able to return home to Bournemouth last month.

Now four-and-a-half months old, Elena still weighs less than 8lb – the size of an average newborn.

Sarah, of Huntfield Road, said: “We wanted to tell our story to help others who are at the beginning of their NICU journey.

“We met some lovely people at both Portsmouth and Poole who have very ill babies, and we’re so lucky that we were able to bring our daughter home safely.”

Sarah went into labour on September 30 at 23 weeks, but doctors at the Portsmouth hospital managed to suppress her labour.

She said: “I’d started getting a few pains that kept coming and going, but I didn’t really think anything of it. I went to bed, but couldn’t get to sleep, and at 2am I thought, ‘This isn’t right’.”

A midwife at Poole General Hospital realised Sarah was in early labour and the decision was made for her to be admitted to Portsmouth.

“I was pumped full of lots of different drugs to stop the labour, and we were able to get through another week before she was born,” said Sarah.

“I was told there was only a 10 per cent chance that Elena would survive, and we just felt so shocked with only a glimmer of hope.”

But the little girl, who was put on a ventilator for almost two weeks immediately after being born, fought for her life.

Sarah said: “I just don’t know what would have happened without the amazing people who took care of us. We owe everything to them. Even in the week that labour was suppressed, they were giving me steroids to help strengthen her lungs in the womb. Being able to bring our beautiful girl home was so wonderful.”