One North Carolina couple is celebrating their daughter's homecoming five months after the child was born 14 weeks early, making her one of the smallest babies to survive, CBS News reports.
Little E'layah was born back in Sept. 23, 2015, weighing a mere 10 ounces and measuring all of 10 inches long from head to toe.
"She was tiny. The size of a small kitten, or smaller, maybe like a baby bird," neonatologist Dr. Andrew Herman told CBS This Morning.
E'layah's mom, Megan Smith and her fiance, Eric Pegues, were excited when they found out about the pregnancy, but early on, Smith began to experience severe complications. About six months in, hypertension had almost given Smith a stroke twice. E'layah stopped growing inside the womb, and doctors were having trouble finding a fetal heartbeat. It was decided that Smith would undergo an emergency C-section. According to Herman, E'layah was born half the size of the smallest premature babies at the Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte. There was a high risk that she would not survive.
"None of her organs are working as they should. … Her skin was one cell layer thick, like the bottom of a blister," Herman said.
"We actually got to see the human being formed outside of the womb," Smith recalled.
For weeks, E'layah's world was an incubator, a respirator and a series of challenges. Even the simple task of drawing blood involved high risk because E'layah had less than an ounce of it in her little body when she was born.
"Because she was so small, she really was reaching the limits of our technology. So we had to sit down and get creative about our approaches to many things," Herman said.
However, thanks to the creativity of the doctors and E'layah's own will, this story had a very happy ending. Six weeks after her original due date, E'layah was discharged weighing 5 pounds, 8 ounces, almost nine times her original weight.
"I'm still in awe of her and awe of her parents and awe of the team," Herman said, adding that E'layah shows no signs of developmental issues.
And as for E'layah's parents? Well, they never doubted that she'd be just fine.
"I never doubted. Oh, no," Smith said. "I refused to put doubt in there. She was here for a reason, and everything happens for a reason.
"I had hope, faith, prayer. I had everything. There was no doubt in my mind that they couldn't do what they needed to do to make my baby live," the proud mother added. "I fought for her to live, and she fought to live."
Read more at CBS News.