Report by ITV Wales' Kate Lewis
A "miracle" baby born two months early while her mother was in a coma battling coronavirus is celebrating her milestone first birthday today (Wednesday).
Little Angel was delivered by emergency caesarean section weighing just 3lbs 6oz, with doctors unsure whether she'd survive.
Her mother Christina Jones, then 39, had been taken to Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil with breathing issues after contracting coronavirus in February 2021.
She was placed on a ventilator on March 1 at 30 weeks' pregnant, with Angel born by C-section the following day.
Now the family, from Nelson in Caerphilly, are celebrating Angel's first birthday after she and Christina both made a remarkable recovery.
Her birthday is not only a massive milestone, but also marks a year since Christina was gravely ill in hospital.
“It’s been a whirlwind – the quickest year of my life,” Christina said.
“She doesn’t look a year old and I don’t feel like I’ve had her for a year. It’s just the quickest year ever.
“Obviously we’re overjoyed and happy that we’re here to celebrate it.”
At the time, Christina's husband Nick had been told his wife was "as ill as you can possibly get" and that the only option they had to save her life was to deliver the baby early.
Nick, 46, was also warned that he might have to choose whose life to save - his wife or his unborn daughter - and was even met by a grief counsellor at the hospital.
Speaking at the time, he said: “Clearly it’s not a good thing when you’re met by a grief counsellor and taken to one side. I thought she’d gone at that point.
"How ill Chris looked, I really thought it was going to take a miracle."
Under the exceptional circumstances, Nick - wearing a hazmat suit with an oxygen generator - was allowed into surgery with Christina, who had been placed in an induced coma.
The couple's daughter was delivered via a C-section on March 2, exactly two months before her due date of May 2.
Shortly after she was born, Angel was transferred to The Grange Hospital in Cwmbran for five days.
Nick was unable to see her as she required two negative Covid tests, having been born to a Covid-positive mother - but the hospital shared daily pictures of her.
As well as being unable to see his newborn daughter, Nick was also unable to see his wife while she remained seriously ill in hospital.
By the time Christina woke up on March 8, baby Angel had been taken back to Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr. Nick was able to spend 10 precious minutes with his daughter before she was transferred.
Christina was unable to see her newborn daughter until she was two weeks old and said she couldn’t remember having been pregnant until she was shown a picture of her baby.
Despite the period of separation, Christina and Angel have bonded well and both are continuing to thrive.
Angel is doted on by the entire family, including her siblings Nicky, 16, and Honey, 11 - with Honey being the one to choose Angel's name.
Christina says she feels “emotional” looking back on the events of last year, having now marked one year with Angel.
“Lots of people have had Covid but, for me, I’m always going to have an anniversary to remind me of when I had it because of Angel’s birthday,” she said.
“There’s always going to be, you know, 'it’s two years ago, three years ago, four years ago' - not just for Angel’s birthday, but for the horrendous experience we had.
“It’s quite emotional but I try to look at the positives that we are here to celebrate it. It could have been so different."
Nick added: “It just doesn’t feel like it was us. It just feels like something you’ve read about – it doesn’t feel like we were part of it.
"I just look at the outcome. The outcome we’ve got now is the best possible solution we could have had.”
Christina added that this past year has been a “rollercoaster, physically, mentally, and emotionally” for her and her family.
She said: “I wasn’t in great condition myself when [Angel] first came out of hospital so it was very trying and, because Nick had to go back to work, it’s hard to adjust with a new baby while recovering. But we’ve done it.”
Another milestone came for Christina as she celebrated her 40th birthday in September.
“I was over the moon that I’d actually hit my 40th birthday. It could have been so different,” she said.
“It does make you look at life in a whole different way after being what I’ve been through. It certainly does. I cherish things. Things that used to bother me don’t bother me anymore. I’m grateful I guess.”