NRL News
202.626.8824
dadandrusk@aol.com

12 ounce preemie goes home for the first time from Maryland NICU

by | Aug 15, 2017

Weighed the equivalent of three sticks of butter at birth

By Dave Andrusko

Ariana Sophia Cruz-Gutierrez's birth was induced in March, and she weighed 350 grams or 12 ounces, equivalent to three sticks of butter. She went home last Thursday. She is the smallest surviving premature infant born at Anne Arundel Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Ariana Sophia Cruz-Gutierrez’s birth was induced in March, and she weighed 350 grams or 12 ounces, equivalent to three sticks of butter. She went home last Thursday. She is the smallest surviving premature infant born at Anne Arundel Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Editor’s note. My family and I will be on vacation through August 25. I will occasionally add new items but for the most part we will repost “the best of the best” — the stories our readers have told us they especially liked over the last ten months.

Last Thursday at noon, Ariana Sophia Cruz-Gutierrez was at last ready to go home for the first time, tiny at 4 pounds, 15 ounces, but by all outward appearances healthy.

What made her departure from Anne Arundel Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit remarkable was that Ariana had been born March 9 weighing 12 ounces!

Dr. Suzanne Rindfleisch, director of the NICU, told the Capital Gazette’s Wendi Winters that Ariana “was our smallest survivor.” Dr. Rindfleisch, who’s been at the hospital for 24 years, went on to tell Winters.

“She was 12 ounces and dropped to 8 ounces. It was a long and difficult course for her, but she has a bright future ahead. Being at 24 weeks gestation, all the issues of a premature birth were there with the placement of tubes and monitors. She had transfusions and intubations. Her head sonogram was normal, though. And her parents were by her side all these months.”

She added, “The family involvement was crucial. The attention they gave her and how they fought for her.”

And the story is indeed harrowing. It began when Annapolis residents Claudia Cruz and Oscar Gutierrez went to a pre-natal appointment with a midwife when Cruz was more than midway through her pregnancy.

“It turned out I had really high blood pressure,” Cruz told Winters. Winters explained, “She had gestational hypertension, caused by the pregnancy. The decision was made to bring on the birth.”

Ariana was not breathing when she was born. “[W]e were uncertain of what could happen,” said Gutierrez. “The baby could die, but with God’s help and blessing, and the incredible work of the people here, everything has turned out well.”

“We felt like we wanted to die,” Gutierrez told Winters. “But, now that we’ve thought of it, it was the best decision we made. Truthfully, when they told us the baby could die, our life changed completely.”

As Ariana and her parents prepared to go home Thursday, “NICU nurse navigator Polly White stepped forward, holding a plastic case filled with different colored beads,” Winters wrote. “’We have a Journey Bead Program in the NICU,’ White said. ‘There is a bead for the first diaper changing, the first time breastfeeding, and other firsts. This red bead is for going home.’ She presented the bead to a smiling Cruz. She’s received enough Journey Beads to form a necklace.”

Winters described the departure in loving detail. Here is just a portion of it:

A nurse gently lifted her out and laid her on a hospital bed. Her car seat had been placed at the head of the bed.

The small infant was alert and looking around, her brown eyes open wide. She has her father’s dimpled chin. The tiny fingers on her doll-sized hands opened and closed with anticipation. She stuck her tongue out and wagged it at the visitors.

Now, a few days short of 5 months old, she is nearly three pounds lighter than an average American newborn.

“This is a good time to tell all the women they should get their blood pressure checked as soon as they find out they are pregnant,” Gutierrez said.

Categories: Premature babies