Nicknamed the “miracle baby,” Hannah Bella Rodriguez was able to leave the neonatal ward at Nassau University Medical Center and go home with her mom, Jennifer Pena, on Monday.
“She was always going to be my beautiful baby and I love her. She doesn’t let me sleep at night but it’s okay. I’m in love with her,” Pena said at a hospital press conference, CBS New York reported.
Pena found out that Hannah had stopped growing just over halfway through her pregnancy, at 22 weeks. Doctors put Pena on bedrest for a month, and she delivered Hannah on July 11, making her the smallest ever preemie to survive at the hospital.
“I was really scared but they helped me a lot,” Pena said. “I was crying in the surgery room but they held my hands and told me everything was for my baby.”
Typically, babies need to get to at least 22 weeks to survive. Hannah was born at 26 weeks, but was the size of a 22-week-old. Doctors said Hannah clearly had strength beyond her size when she was born.
“In the delivery room it was really cool, that’s the only way I can say it. This little kid came out and screamed,” neonatologist Dr. Harriet Boxer said. “This was really reassuring.”
Hannah’s lungs were so strong that she amazingly did not need a respirator to breathe.
During her stay in the neonatal ward, Hannah quadrupled in weight to 5 lbs. 5 oz., and is now fully healthy. Doctors credit Pena for Hannah’s growth.
“Every day she learned how to take care of this baby,” Boxer said. “She was involved, she touched her, after her initial shock at how small she was. It increases the rate of survival.”
“I know everything’s going to be okay,” Pena said. “She’s doing well.”