A MIRACLE baby who survived against all the odds after being born born nine weeks early is starting school today.

Little fighter Brianne Ochen was so small she could fit in the palm of her mum's hand and had to come home from hospital in a doll's dress.

The tiny tot was rushed to a special baby care unit and hooked up to a ventilator as she fought for life.

Five years on she starts St Francis Primary School in Port Glasgow with all her new classmates - the day her family feared they might never see.

But for mum Pauline, waving Brianne off on her first day will be a mixture of emotions.

At just 30 weeks, Pauline went into an unexpected labour in the middle of the night.

She was rushed to hospital and spent a week in a ward as doctors tried desperately to delay the birth and give Brianne a better chance of survival.

Pauline, from Bay Street in Port Glasgow, said: "It was the worst week of my life. My waters burst at 3am in the morning and it was the last thing I was expecting.

"I was so worried and stressed. No one could give me any guarantees that she would be okay when she was born.

"They set out her chances of survival as 'touch and go'."

Brianne was born on June 7 2014 in the Princess Royal weighing just over three pounds and a half pounds.

Pauline, 30, added "She was just tiny, you could put her in the palm of your hand. We had to bring her home in a doll's dress as that was all that would fit her.

"It was so upsetting to see her in the special baby care unit on a ventilator.

"She was there for four weeks. We had no idea if she would survive."

In the weeks and months that followed, Pauline and her husband Andrew had to deal with a number of scares.

She added: "Brianne had a heart murmur but luckily that was okay.

"We were also worried that she had cerebral palsy when she started to walk.

"But she is such a wee fighter. She has met all her milestones and she rules the roost at home over her three brothers.

"She is our wee princess. I was emotional about the thought of her going off to school, but she has been looking forward to it for months!".

Pauline, mum to Ethan, eight, Karsyn, two, and Greyson, five months, is no stranger to dramatic new arrivals.

She haemorrhaged while giving birth to Ethan and ended up desperately ill.

Two-year-old Karsyn was born a month early and when he was still a baby fell seriously ill after his heart rate dropped.

Pauline added: "Luckily he was given the all clear and the condition cleared up by itself."

Care worker Pauline met her Ugandan husband Andrew after going out to the African country as part of mission from Ambassador Hall, Port Glasgow.

She was inspired to volunteer in orphanages after going to see a performance of the Ugandan children's choir in the Port Town Hall.

She met Andrew, a journalist in his home country, in 2008 and they married in 2013.

Pauline hopes to one day go and live in Uganda.

She said: "I love it out there and the kids love it as well."