CHICAGO - After 140 days, Baby Eirianna is expected to finally leave the NICU at Mount Sinai Hospital on Wednesday.
Eirianna is the smallest patient to survive at the Chicago hospital, where she received critical, around-the-clock care since her premature birth in early October. She wasn't due until January.
"She was the smallest baby I ever took care of here," said Amanda Kim, a NICU nurse.
Mom Enitan Martins knew her pre-eclampsia would force an early delivery but she delivered at just 23 weeks. She was out Mt. Sinai on bed rest when her doctor said they couldn't wait anymore. Baby Eirianna was only 13 ounces.
"He comes in one day and says, 'We're having the baby now. I'm calling your husband, we're gonna do it,'" Martin said.
Eirianna was so tiny when she was delivered by C-section that she was called a micro-preemie. Her skin was so thin and fragile her parents cuoldn't even touch her for the first few weeks.
"I thought I was prepared for it, but when I saw her I was shell shocked," Martins recalled.
They faced a lot of hurdles, including many touch-and-go medical situations. But now Eirianna is ready to go home, and the nurses who cared for her around the clock are preparing for a bittersweet goodbye.
"She looks so good, you'd never know she was a preemie," said Beckie Neir, Mt. Sinai NICU nurse.
During stays in the NICU, which are typically much shorter, nurses often grow attached to babies and parents. However, they know that leaving is the best outcome. And Mom and Dad can't wait to bring their baby home.
"I'm just grateful that we're both here. It's been a long haul," Martins said.
An average stay in the NICU at Mount Sinai is 21 days. Eirianna's parents take her home Wednesday.