191 days in the NICU


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Welcoming a new baby is an exciting time for parents.

But when complications arise, that excitement can quickly turn to fear.

Jacinda and John Tracy were getting ready to welcome their first child to the family, due in the summer of 2019. What they weren’t expecting is that their daughter would join them much sooner than early June.

“At like 4:11 in the afternoon she was born, so, I was due June 9th and I had her February 15th,” Jacinda said.

The couple spent Valentines day at the hospital after doctor’s noticed Jacinda’s blood flow wasn’t where it should be. Just one day later, Braelynn entered the world at only 23-weeks-old.

“She was born at 325 grams, or about 11 ounces. Less than 3 quarters of a pound. So she had lots of challenges to go forward with,” Dr. Jacquelyn Grev said.

Sanford Health neonatologist Dr. Jacquelyn Grev says most babies born around 23 weeks have over a 50 percent survival rate — but being small causes that number to go down.

“For comparison, we put a Butterfinger next to her when she was first born because she was only 9 and 3.4 inches long,” Jacinda said.

But now, 6-month-old Braelynn is a “NICU graduate” and is heading home to Sheldon, Iowa after 191 days in the Sanford NICU.

“She’s our smallest baby to discharge from this NICU,” Grev said.

This is the size of diaper Braelynn was wearing when she was first born and today she’s going home in this. Not only is Braelynn growing physically, both her parents and staff agree her personality is bigger than she is.

“She’s got a really, really good personality. She’ll let you know what she likes and she’ll let you know what she doesn’t like,” Grev said.

Although she will need some special care, such as feeding through a g-tube — the new parents can’t wait to snuggle with their daughter.

“It’s unreal. Just from where we started. You didn’t ever think we were going to get out of here. There were some scary times where we weren’t sure if it was going to happen. And then it came down to when, and then all of a sudden it’s here and we’re allowed to go home,” John said.

Something Grev says is truly a miracle.

“Not many babies of her size actually survive, so it’s a great thing to be a part of her care and it’s really an honor for us to be a part of her journey,” Grev said.

While the Tracy’s are ecstatic to head home with their daughter, they say the staff’s support will be missed.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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