Laura's double delight after premature birth
A new mum made it to her graduation with minutes to spare, just a few days after giving birth to her son.
Laura Leydon graduated alongside her boyfriend Conor McCashin at Queen's University, Belfast on Friday after son Fiachra was born on Wednesday.
Laura and Conor, both aged 22 and from west Belfast, got the shock of their lives when their first child arrived earlier than expected as they prepared to graduate with joint honours in History and Politics.
Conor said Laura began getting pains at the beginning of the week, but assumed it was just the baby moving around.
After the pain became severe the couple went to hospital on Wednesday to discover Laura was in labour. They were worried as Laura was only 29 weeks' pregnant. But baby Fiachra is doing well in hospital.
"He is our miracle and is currently in ICU growing hour by hour, minute by minute," Conor said. "He is also under the supervision of the most gifted people across the planet. We know he is going to be OK. I've been watching Fiachra in his incubator, watching his eyes open and close and counting his fingers and toes and thinking, 'Isn't he so perfect?'"
While most people expected her to miss graduation, Laura made it to the ceremony just in time.
"Being as determined as she is, Laura got out of the ward with one hour to get ready and was sitting in her seat at Queen's for both of us to collect our graduation certificates," said Conor.
"When the dust settled we celebrated with our amazing baby boy in the ICU."
Conor paid tribute to Laura after their frantic week.
"Someone once said, 'Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage'.
"The love from our boy gave us strength. Anyone who knows Laura will know the love she shows everyone around her every day. That love gave her courage these last few days and especially on our graduation day."