Full life after early arrival

By Rosemary Roberts

I couldn't wait to leave the room when I met Amy Millington in Whangarei 21 years ago - she terrified me.

She was the tiniest human being I had ever seen, a scrap of a human weighing 560g, with an oxygen tube up her nose.

The smallest-size nappy came right up to her chin. Her mother, Laura, could hold her in the palm of one hand.

I willed this mite to stay calm while I was in the room with the Advocate photographer. I couldn't imagine what sort of noise she would make if she lost her cool. I hoped she never cried - how could she spare any precious energy? How could anyone bear to listen and how would you comfort a child you couldn't cuddle?

This week I found myself in the same room as Amy again, this time talking to her about celebrating her 21st birthday today and marvelling that the baby had turned into a healthy, composed and very nice young woman, albeit very petite - 38kg, 167.5cm.

Amy was not fazed by any questions about life when you arrive in the world three months early .

"I always tried to do what everyone else was doing. A teacher said in a report that I tended to get tired doing PE. I did do the cross-country but I wasn't really a sporty person."

A helpful soul once suggested she could be a jockey. Sometimes she has to ask for help reaching something or lifting a weight that is too heavy for her. None of this bothers this well-adjusted young woman, who loves reading and listening to music and is learning to play the ukulele.

Oh, if only I had known that the tiny baby would one day grow up to run in a cross-country and playing the ukulele, I would have enjoyed that long-ago assignment so much more.

Amy says she has wanted to become a primary school teacher since she was 5 years old.

She trained as a teacher aide to see if that was really what she wanted to do, qualifying last year, which showed her that this was truly her vocation and next year she plans to apply to train as a teacher.

Her two younger siblings are much taller and heavier and occasionally have some fun "doing a bit of a gloat".

She says there are some quite short people in the wider family and she thinks that this, as well as her premature birth by emergency Caesarean after failing to thrive, might also be a factor in her height.

She says her goal is to reach 40kg but it's proving an uphill battle. "I can eat whatever I want to but I just can't put on weight. I have a fast metabolism and the funny thing is I have noticed this about other people who have been very premature."

Health authorities kept a close eye on Amy's progress over the years and she had a yearly appointment for a thorough check-up at the Child Health Clinic every year until she was about 18, and she has no health issues.

And she also has a fiance, David Longdill. No wedding date has been set - Amy has things to do.

- Northland Age

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