VANCOUVER, Wash. – Little Harley Gulliksen has gone home after five months in the neonatal intensive care unit at a Vancouver hospital.
She weighed just 15 ounces and measured 10 inches when she was born prematurely Dec. 20. Her arm was smaller than an adult’s pinky finger, the Columbian reported.
The baby was released to her parents late Friday afternoon, Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center spokesman Brian Willoughby said.
“It’s been difficult,” said Harley’s mother, Tiffany Burril, 23. “But it’s been fun too, watching her get bigger and stronger and prove all the doctors wrong.”
The 5-month-old now weighs 7 pounds, 6 ounces – about the size of a full-term newborn. She probably will be smaller than other children, and it remains to be seen how the early delivery will affect her development, said Dr. Bret Freitag, medical director of the neonatal intensive care unit.
Harley was born at 27 1/2 weeks. A full-term pregnancy is 38 to 40 weeks.
A couple of weeks after birth, she experienced lung complications. She spent 33 days on a ventilator while she fought an infection and a collapsed lung.
“Her lungs can grow and get better and resolve some of these problems with time, but it’s going to take quite a while,” Freitag said. “Babies born this early never have 100 percent lung function.”
Harley has started to show a feisty personality. She gives her parents an angry eye when they try to tickle her feet or arms. She smiles when she closes her eyes, but not when Mom and Dad try to make her laugh. And she’s not a fan of hats.
She likes bath time and her bouncy chair. She squirms and fusses, but rarely cries.
Harley has excelled at feeding. For about 2 1/2 months she was fed through a tube. Once she was able to eat by mouth, she took to it quickly, the doctor said.
“It’s crazy seeing how much she’s grown compared to what she was,” said Harley’s dad, Mitchall Gulliksen, 22.