Lorraine Allard lost cancer battle three weeks after giving birth
Doctors advised her to have an abortion and start chemotherapy straight away. Instead, with steadfast courage, she insisted on waiting long enough to give her unborn son a chance to survive, telling her husband Martyn: "If I am going to die, my baby is going to live."
Left, Lorraine Allard, 33, and Liam two weeks after he was born. She started a course of chemotherapy almost straight away and was able to cradle him just a handful of times before she died last Friday
A caesarean delivery was scheduled at 26 weeks, but Mrs Allard went into premature labour a week before and Liam was born on November 18.
She then started chemotherapy, but died on January 18 - having left her bed a handful of times to cuddle her son beside his incubator.
"Lorraine was positive all the way through - she had strength for both of us," Mr Allard said yesterday.
"Towards the end we knew things weren't going well, but she was overjoyed that she had given life to Liam."
The 34-year-old oilfield technician from St Olaves, near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, and his 33-year-old wife already had three daughters - Leah, ten, Amy, eight, and Courtney, 20 months - when they learned they were expecting their first boy, "We were going to have the full set and didn't plan to have any more children after that," said Mr Allard.
But in October last year, his wife started suffering stomach cramps and tests at James Paget Hospital in Gorleston revealed tumours on her liver.
It is believed the disease spread from bowel cancer that had been growing unnoticed for years.
"The doctors said they couldn't do anything because she was pregnant," said Mr Allard.
"She told them straight away they were not going to get rid of the baby. She'd have lost the will to fight."
Mrs Allard went into labour a couple of weeks after the diagnosis and gave birth at the Norfolk and Norwich University NHS Hospital in Norwich.
"Liam was so tiny, just 1lb 11oz, so the nurse picked him up and allowed Lorraine to give him a little kiss before he was taken to an incubator," said Mr Allard.
"She was so emotional. She had been so determined to give him the best chance and was happy that he had been born naturally, which meant she wouldn't have to recover for a couple of weeks after a caesarean before beginning the chemotherapy."
The treatment began almost immediately and Mrs Allard spent her time recuperating at home, apart from four visits to her newborn son.
Liam has responded well to his care and it is hoped he will be sent home from hospital in early March.
But his mother's health started to deteriorate just before Christmas and a scan on January 17 revealed the tumours were still growing.
She died the following day. Mr Allard said: "The doctors had said the cancer was no longer curable, although they were trying to shrink the tumours - which they thought might give her a couple of years.
"On the day Lorraine died, she hadn't eaten for two weeks and couldn't drink.
"I laid beside her and she was gripping my hand quite tight.
"We were like that for about half an hour. I could feel against my chest that her heart was slowing down. She just slipped away after that. It was very peaceful.
"When Liam is old enough, I won't tell him that Lorraine gave her life for him, but I will say she made sure he had a good chance of life.
"She told me she didn't want him to feel bad about it."
Mrs Allard's father, Tom Berry, said: "I was overwhelmed by the way Lorraine took it.
"She lived for her husband and children. She was a big personality with a heart of gold."
Babies born at 25 weeks have a 50 per cent chance of survival. This goes down to 39 per cent at 24 weeks and 17 per cent - or a one in six chance - at 23 weeks.