HAPPY Nikita Harrison is like most healthy 10-year-old girls – full of life and a bundle of energy.
But it was a different story a decade ago when she put in a very early appearance on Christmas Eve and was born three months prematurely.
Weighing just 2lbs 11oz, she could fit in the palm of mum Nichola’s hand.
In her first few weeks Nikita battled bleeding on the brain, a hole in the heart and collapsed lung.
And despite doctors’ fears Nikita’s premature birth meant she could have been left disabled, the little fighter went on to prove them all wrong.
Nichola, 38, said: “Nikita wasn’t due until March 18 but I just went into spontaneous labour and she was born 12 weeks early.
“She could fit in the palm of my hand.
“We were given the worst-case scenario that she risked being disabled or could have brain or heart problems.”
Nikita spent the first two weeks of her life in James Cook Hospital’s neo-natal unit before being transferred closer to home in Peterlee, at Dryburn Hospital, in Durham City, for another five weeks.
Nichola, a care assistant at Brierton Lodge care home in Hartlepool, added: “It was a very stressful time. One day she was having an emergency brain scan, where the bleeding was found, another day it was a hole in her heart.”
Luckily, the bleeding and hole in Nikita’s heart mended themselves and she was allowed to go home to Nichola and husband John, 40.
Nikita had also been expected to lag behind other children in her development, but she again proved the experts wrong.
She has won medals for her prowess in gymnastics, loves trampolining, is top of her class for maths and has been picked to represent her school in athletics.
Nichola said: “By the time she was a toddler, she was doing everything any other child could do.
“She has done absolutely fantastically and we are very proud of her. Nothing holds her back.”
Nikita, who attends Seascape Primary School, in Peterlee, celebrated her 10th birthday on Wednesday with a party for family and friends.
Nichola, also mum to three-year-old Daisy, added: “Nikita loves having her birthday at Christmas but she keeps asking if she can have another birthday on the day she was supposed to be born.”