A heartbroken mum has told how she longs for the day she can finally bring her baby daughter home - after spending every day of her life in hospital.
Poorly Matilda Bowcock has been under the specialist care of doctors from the minute she was born via planned Caesarean last November.
Five months on, she has had 14 operations and mum Loren Bowcock, 28, still has no idea when she can bring her baby daughter home to live with older brother Harley, 11, and sister Mya, seven. She said: "It's just like I'm not her mum. It's like something you see on the TV."
Loren, from Bolton, was told at her 20-week scan that Matilda had a heart condition known as transposition of the great arteries. It means the two main blood vessels leaving the heart - the pulmonary artery and the aorta - are swapped over.
Matilda was transferred to Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool just 30 minutes after she was born on November 18. Loren couldn't even cuddle her for five days and the tiny tot has spent every day of her short life since then in hospital.
She had a septostomy when she was just a couple of hours old and has had over 14 operations included open heart surgery when she was just 12 days old.
Loren said: "You never go for the 20 week scan and think there is going to be something wrong. People don't realise that others have to live these lives until you're living it. You don't think anything like this would ever happen, it's something you see on the TV."
In January, Matilda had a cardiac arrest where her heart stopped beating for seven minutes, which Loren said felt like she had 'lost her.'
She said: "My life just felt like it was over. I just felt like I had lost her. There have been a lot of times where I've just broke down and thought that she's given up. She has got a bloody good fight in her though, she really has."
Loren has only been able to start picking Matilda up on her own in the last two weeks, which she said made her feel like she's 'not her mum.'
She said: "When she had her chest drains in from her open heart surgery, she had them in constantly until two weeks ago. It's only been the last two weeks that I've been able to pick her up by herself.
"Every other time I've held her, she's had to be passed to me by a nurse."
Loren's two other children were unable to meet their sister until Christmas Eve because of how poorly she is.
She said: "Mya is seven and thinks Matilda has a poorly heart and they think it's broken and that she was born poorly. They knew I had to be away for a while but obviously it's gone on for a hell of a lot longer. They didn't meet her until Christmas Eve and it's hard to describe just how hard it is because my life is in turmoil.
"It's like I'm having an affair because I'm living two lives. I want to be at home with my other children and I want to be at the hospital so I can't win because wherever I am, I feel like I'm letting someone down."
Loren, a care assistant, has no idea when Matilda will be able to go home and has been told to instead 'take every day as it comes.'
She said: "There's been a few times we've thought she was getting there but Matilda has other ideas.
"I spoke to her consultant on Monday and he said I need to take things month by month because we're here for the long haul because she's really poorly.
"She is stable but she's a sick child. She just needs to get a lot bigger, a lot stronger and take every day as it comes."
- Loren's family and friends have set up a Go Fund Me page here to help support her financially and help her pay the transport costs from her home to the hospital.