Ellonn Smartt was just 23 weeks pregnant when her water broke. Even though the mom from Des Moines, Iowa wasn't due until November, she stayed calm.
“I knew if I panicked, the baby would pick up on that and get stressed," Smartt told TODAY Parents. "I couldn't let that happen."
But Smartt broke down crying when doctors at Iowa Methodist Medical Center explained the seriousness of the situation.
“They said I was going to have to deliver in the next day or two and there was a good chance he wouldn’t survive,” Smartt recalled. “That was the moment when I fell apart. I was heartbroken.”
Smartt and her boyfriend, Jordan Morrow, welcomed Jaden Wesley Morrow via C-section on July 11. He weighed just 13 ounces. (According to the World Health Organization, the average birth weight for male babies born full term is 7 pounds, 6 ounces.)
The little boy came out fighting.
“His arms and toes were moving and he was trying to breathe on his own,” Smartt told TODAY Parents. “He’s our little miracle.”
Jaden was transferred to the NICU at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines. He will be discharged on his Nov. 6 due date.
“For most part, Jaden is stable,” Smartt said. “He’s on a ventilator and had a small infection, but his doctors think he looks great. He’s getting breast milk and gaining weight.”
Jaden has a long road ahead, according to Dr. Krista Haines, a neonatologist at DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Babies born at 23 weeks are risk for developing premature lung disease, brain bleeds, infections, bone fractures and blindness.
“Long term we know that there are motor and cognitive delays as well as fine motor delays,” Haines said. She noted that very premature babies are at higher risk for developing autism spectrum disorder and ADHD.
“We know too that some of these babies do really, really well and that they can function similar to their peers,” Dr. Haines said. “Early intervention is the most important thing. It’s absolutely crucial.”
Smartt is counting down the days until Jaden sleeps in his own crib. “I have moments where I get sad because I want him home with me," she said. "But I am staying positive for Jaden.”