A baby boy who spent his first year fighting for his life in hospital as doctors predicted he would not survive is now celebrating his first Christmas at home.
Teddy Wood was born on November 23 2020 at St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester with a rare congenital condition which paralyses the facial muscles and causes breathing problems.
He was rushed in for an emergency tracheotomy, and his parents Carl Wood, 33, and Amber Nuttall, 27, were warned there was a ‘high chance’ their baby would die.
But Teddy pulled through despite the odds which were stacked against him – and is now spending his first Christmas at home in Bispham with his parents and older siblings Tyler, Rocco, Marcy and CJ.
Teddy is spending his first Christmas at home with his family
He was later diagnosed with Moebius Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder which means he will never be able to smile, frown, eat, or even blink on his own, as his face is totally paralysed.
The youngster is also unable to breathe on his own – meaning he will need to stay on a ventilator for the rest of his life.
But his parents say he is just a normal, cheeky baby, who has no trouble getting his feelings across.
Carl, a delivery driver, said: “At the moment, Teddy is still a patient, but he spends most of his time at home. We were allowed to take him home for the first time just before his first birthday. It was worrying at first because we didn’t know what it was going to be like.
Teddy with his mum Amber Nuttall and dad Chris Wood
“Initially it was supposed to be just a one-night visit.But we took him home on the Friday, and on the Saturday morning it just felt right to have him there with us.
“Teddy has progressed really well. At the beginning of the year, we weren’t sure how severe his disabilities were or what to expect. Now we we know what we’re looking at, and we can put things in place to help him as he grows up.
“Teddy is always going to rely on his ventilator. That’s not something that’s going to change. We try to give him every experience a normal baby would have, like going out in the pram and going shopping, but it is quite difficult with the amount of equipment we have got to take with us.
“It was daunting initially, but we soon got our heads around it and learned how to do whatever we need to do to make sure he’s OK.
Teddy in hospital with his mum and dad
“Teddy is like any normal, cheeky baby. Because of his condition, he can’t smile and he can’t laugh. But he’ll be a nightmare when we’re trying to get him ready for bed. He’s like any other one-year-old.
“People do give us funny looks when we go out with a baby on a ventilator. But inside, he’s no different from any other baby.”
Carl and Amber were alerted to their son’s condition early on – but doctors had no idea how severe his problems would be until he was actually born.
A scan taken when Amber was 12 weeks pregnant showed increased fluid on the back of the baby’s neck, and they later discovered he had clubbed feet and micrognathia, a condition in which a child has a very small lower jaw.
Collecting his son from Manchester Children’s Hospital yesterday, just in time to open his presents, Carl said: “The last Christmas we had was in the neo-natal unit in Manchester in full lockdown, with Amber sitting at his bedside on Christmas Day.
“This will be his first Christmas spent with his family. We’re delighted. We were a bit worried about new restrictions coming in because of Covid – we were worried the hospital would change its mind – but we were told we were safe to bring him home as planned.”
A different kind of Christmas dinner will be on the table for Teddy, however, as his condition means he must be fed through an NG tube to his stomach.
Luckily, his older siblings love to get involved and help feed their little brother, Carl said – though they were expecting to use a bottle, not a feeding tube.
He added: “Teddy had a difficult start in life. We had an emotional few months because we wre told that they weren’t sure whether he was going to survive, and we were waiting day after day for that terrible news that we would have to turn the ventilator off. But now he’s just a normal baby at home.”
In the spirit of Christmas, Carl and Amber set up a fundraiser on their Facebook page, The Story of Teddy, to collect presents and toys for sick children to open in their hospital beds.
The couple previously raised more than £2,000 for the Ronald McDonald House, which accommodated them for free while Teddy remained in hospital in Manchester.
This year, their fund-raising efforts took a festive turn for the patients of ward 83 at Manchester Children’s Hospital, where Teddy has spent the majority of his young life so far.
They said: “There are still going to be children on the ward that wont be spending Christmas at home. This being the case we’re wanting to try and make this Christmas as magical as possible. It may be last minute but… that’s how it’s supposed to be done at Christmas.
“Teddy isn’t the only child in this position. We want to make life magical for these amazing children.
“We can’t thank everyone enough for the amount of help and gifts that they have shown us.”