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Most premature baby ever celebrates first birthday

Richard Hutchinson fit into the palm of his parents' hands when he was born.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world's most premature baby is Richard Hutchinson, who was born weighing less than a can of soda.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world's most premature baby is Richard Hutchinson, who was born weighing less than a can of soda.Courtesy Rick and Beth Hutchinson
/ Source: TODAY

The Guinness-record-holding world's most premature baby celebrated his first birthday with an epic smash cake.

Richard Hutchinson was born on June 5, 2020, when his mother, Beth Hutchinson, was just 21 weeks and two days pregnant.

Richard Hutchinson was born on June 5, 2020 when his mom, Beth Hutchinson, was just 21 weeks and two days pregnant.Rick and Beth Hutchinson

"He weighed 11.9 ounces and fit into one hand," Hutchinson, whose due date was in October 2020, told TODAY Parents. "My pregnancy was fairly normal with no major issues and we're still not sure why he was born early."

Baby Richard's road was a rocky one: The newborn spent four months in the NICU followed by another month in the hospital preparing to come home.

During Richard's hospital stay, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hutchinson and her husband, Rick, spent lots of time traveling between home and the hospital, as they were unable to stay overnight with their son due to restrictions from the pandemic.

Beth and Rick Hutchinson with Richard on the day he graduated from the NICU.Rick and Beth Hutchinson

"He left the hospital on December 4th, 2020 right on time for Christmas," said Hutchinson, who shared that she and Rick struggled for years to conceive before getting pregnant with Richard, and had a pregnancy loss in 2018. "There were and still are a lot of different specialists involved with Richard through this whole process, but for him to come home, he had to be stable and had to be on half a liter or less of oxygen as well."

Hutchinson, who lives in Wisconsin, says it was Richard's doctor who began looking into whether or not the baby would qualify as a Guinness world record holder. After a bit of research, she learned Richard was indeed the world's most premature baby, beating out a record that stood for nearly four decades.

According to Guinness, in 1978, a Canadian couple delivered a baby boy at 21 weeks and five days. That child, James Elgin Gill, previously held the world record that now belongs to Richard.

Baby Richard turned 1 on June 5, 2021.Rick and Beth Hutchinson

Today, Hutchinson describes her son as "happy and fairly healthy," and says celebrating his first birthday was a milestone she wasn't sure she'd see come to pass.

"He is always surprising us all and making a mark on the world at a young age," she said. "His birthday was a blast — we just had family over and had cake and ice cream. And, we counted our blessings. We're thankful that he's here with us."