Trip home from NICU is ultimate Mother's Day gift

- For 65 days, Andrea Small had been counting down the minutes until she was able to receive the ultimate Mother’s Day gift: having her baby home in time to celebrate the special occasion.

Born at 26 weeks, 14 inches long and weighing just two pounds, Braelynn Hope Small had to wait over two months to join her parents at home. The family said goodbye to the medical team at Florida Hospital on Friday.

“I’ve wanted to be a mom since I was a little girl, and it was a bonus that she’s a girl,” said Small. “She’s just really sweet. Girls are the best — and a lot stronger!” 

Small’s journey to motherhood hasn’t been an easy one — a previous pregnancy also resulted in a premature birth, and the baby passed away at 23 weeks.

Babies born prematurely often need intensive medical care because their essential organs are underdeveloped. Despite the odds, Braelynn didn’t require surgeries during her stay at Florida Hospital for Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. 

“She’s my rainbow baby,” said Small. “Mother’s Day is a special day because I’m a mom, and that’s the most important thing.”

The expert, round-the-clock care in the NICU gave Braelynn just what she needed to thrive, and today she weighs almost five pounds and is in great health. 

“She’s doing great,” said Kreangkai Tyree, neonatologist at Florida Hospital for Children. “She’s growing, thriving and meeting all of the milestones for her gestational age. She has a wonderful loving family that she’s going home to.” 

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