It’s a special day for any parent – but it’s one Megan Smith and Eric Pegues say they don’t take for granted. Tuesday, they finally took their baby home from the hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“I’m nervous,” Megan said. “I’ve got anxiety, but this moment is here and I’m excited.”
Their daughter, E’layah Faith, was born on September 23 after an emergency C-section. She entered the world 14 weeks early and weighed just 10 ounces – lighter than a can of soda.
She was hailed as one of the smallest babies ever to survive. Her parents and doctors spent months nursing her to strength and dealing with health scares and setbacks. She required blood transfusions and careful feedings.
“I basically lived here. Every single day, if not every other day,” Megan said.
CBS Charlotte affiliate WBTV first visited the family in the hospital in November, just after the baby’s original due date.
The team of doctors at Carolinas Medical Center where E’layah was born called her “Tater Tot.” The baby was then moved to Levine Children’s Hospital.
“Even our equipment, even our diapers that we have for our smallest babies were too big for her. So, we had to be very creative in taking care of her,” said Dr. Jessica Clark-Pounder of Levine Children’s Hospital.
Babies like E’layah are considered premature if they’re born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. (Full term is about 40 weeks.) In 2014, preterm birth affected about one out of every 10 infants born in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Preterm birth can lead to long-term neurological disabilities in children and it’s the biggest contributor to infant death. Babies born before 32 weeks are at the highest risk.
E’layah now weighs five pounds and seven ounces – five times her birth weight. She still has progress to make, but doctors say they are in wonder over her progress.
“She has grown, she has been able to breathe on her own and she looks around,” Clark-Pounder said. “She pays attention to her surroundings, she knows her mom’s voice, she knows her dad’s voice… and I’m amazed she has come this far.”
The last few weeks have been a waiting game. Doctors hoped E’layah could have gone home in January, but there were complications.
But now the wait is over, and Megan and Eric are excited about what the future holds for their miracle baby girl.
“I want to know who she is. She is feisty,” Megan said. “I’m ready to see what’s in store.”
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