LUCY Roper gave boyfriend Robin Bearman a very special birthday present this week, when their beautiful baby daughter, Gracie-Anne arrived as a surprise to both of them.
Lucy, 22, from Combe Martin, said the first time she realised she was pregnant was when her waters broke on Friday night.
"I had been out to dinner with my parents and came back and had a bit of pain so lay on the sofa. The next thing I knew my waters had broken and we had to call an ambulance," she said.
Delighted new dad Robin, 20, from Ilfracombe, said: "I was supposed to go and see Lucy, but she sent a quick text saying 'don't come, will explain later', which was worrying in itself. Lucy doesn't do short texts."
And he remained in the dark until the next day.
Lucy, who works at Actavis Pharmaceuticals in Barnstaple, was taken to North Devon District Hospital where a quick scan revealed the truth.
She said: "It was the first time I heard her heartbeat and that made it all seem real."
Lucy went into 17 hours of labour before Gracie-Anne arrived at 2.30pm on Saturday.
At five weeks premature, she weighed a healthy 6lb 7oz but needed to spend a little time in the Special Care Baby Unit while she was checked over.
Lucy was determined to be the one to break the news to Robin, so a call from her mum, Anne soon brought him from his job at the O2 shop in Barnstaple.
He said: "I didn't know what to expect and was worried when Anne met me. We walked past A&E and on towards the maternity wing.
"Lucy said she was scared about my reaction but Gracie-Anne is such a little blessing.
"As soon as I saw her and the first time she opened her eyes, I knew I never wanted to be apart from either of them."
The new parents are now over the shock, and thrilled with their new arrival. They said they have had support from a "fantastic" network of friends and family.
Lucy said: "We had nothing – no cot, no pushchair and no baby clothes, but everyone has really rallied around."
Of the shock of having a surprise baby she said: "I didn't put on any weight until the last month, but we only attributed it to a bit of weight gain. Looking back, I was a bit ill and quite tired, but she didn't move much at all. She was quite a still baby."
Doting dad Robin, who celebrated his birthday two days after his new daughter, said: "If we had known she was there and wasn't moving, we probably would have been very worried, but she is really healthy."
Lucy even wore a bikini while on holiday in France in July and had no inkling of Gracie-Anne's presence.
Both sets of grandparents, Anne and Andrew Roper and Rosalind and Stephen Bearman are also said to be thrilled now they're over the initial shock.
Mr Roper said: "Lucy's grandfather died just a week before Gracie-Anne was born, so it's lovely to have her here."
At Southmead Primary School, in Braunton where Lucy's mum Anne is a teacher, staff rallied around and made a collection which was swiftly turned into a Mothercare voucher.
And a vast network of aunties, uncles, cousins and friends have ensured that Gracie-Anne now has everything a baby girl needs.
The couple, who met while on a Performing Arts course at Petroc, only started seeing each other 10 months ago.
"So Gracie-Anne has been with us almost the whole time," said Robin.
They're now putting their future plans for university on hold and said both their employers "have been brilliant".
Lucy said: "We're going to do some serious saving now."