Baby girl born at 2 pounds leaving NICU is best Mother's Day gift

'I'm a mom, and that's the most important thing,' Braelyn's mom says

ORLANDO, Fla. – When Braelyn Hope Small was born at 26 weeks old she weighed 2 pounds. The pink striped bow on her infant-sized hat dwarfed her tiny, delicate head.

Born March 5, the 14-inch long girl wasn't ready for the outside world yet. Her organs were underdeveloped and she required intensive medical care at the Florida Hospital for Children neonatal intensive care unit in Orlando.

After 65 days in the NICU, Braelyn's mother, Andrea Small, is getting the best present Mother's Day present a new mom could ask for: bringing home a healthy baby.

Medical staff at Florida Hospital said Braelyn's weight has more than doubled, to 5 pounds, and despite the odds she didn't need surgery.

NICU nurse Jamie Partian said it's a special moment to see one of the babies she cares for go home.

"It's so exciting for us as nurses to see them go home after 65 days. These guys are strong little fighters."

Kreangkai Tyree, a neonatologist at Florida Hospital for Children who cared for Braelyn, said the 8-week-old girl overcame all her medical hurdles with "flying colors."

"She has a wonderful loving family that she’s going home to and that by far for us, taking care of premature babies, is the biggest thing in terms of outcome for them," Tyree said.

On Braelyn's chart in the NICU one of her goals written by a nurse read, "Be home for Mother's Day." On Friday, another note said "Goal met!"

Braelyn Small, born weighing 2 pounds at 26 weeks, is going home for Mother's Day.
Braelyn Small, born weighing 2 pounds at 26 weeks, is going home for Mother's Day.

Andrea Small calls her daughter a "rainbow baby" and said her journey to motherhood has been hard. She suffered pregnancy loss at 23 weeks with a previous baby. More than 24,000 babies are still born each year, according to the CDC.

"We lost a baby almost three years ago, so she's very special," Andrea Small said. “Mother’s Day is a special day because I’m a mom, and that’s the most important thing."

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