This Thanksgiving, a Texas family had something extra special to be thankful for: their micro-preemie miracle baby will be home with them after over 100 days in the hospital.
Pearly Jo Calhoun was born in July at just 23 weeks gestation, but that wasn’t the last time she’d stun her parents, AJ and Tisha, and her doctors. Pearly Jo, or PJ, is among just 15 percent of micro-preemies who are released from the neonatal intensive care unit without major health problems.
PJ is also the youngest surviving micro preemie at Baylor Scott and White Medical Center in McKinney, Texas, where she’d make her home for the next 136 days.
Little PJ now weighs in at a happy, healthy nine pounds, and was set to spend Thanksgiving at home, safe in her mom and dad’s arms.
Tisha shared with her local NBC station that PJ was the “rainbow baby”, a baby born after a miscarriage or infant loss, that she’d been praying for. “For years after our first miscarriage I would lay my head on AJ’s shoulder every night and cry and say, ‘When will we have a baby?'”
All odds seemed stacked against the Calhouns when Tisha delivered PJ at just 23 weeks due to an incompetent cervix.
“I just had to keep repeating to myself, my husband reassured me. We are gonna leave the hospital with a live baby,” Tisha recalled. “I will survive labor.”
Tiny Pearly Jo was born at just 1.1 pounds but was full of life and strength.
“They said, don’t be surprised if she doesn’t cry when she comes out. But she did, she let out three huge cries. Everyone in the delivery room gasped,” Tisha added.
After PJ was born, Tisha drove 100 miles roundtrip every day from Pottsboro to McKinney to be with her just to experience the mundane milestones many parents take for granted: “We made it to four months before I got pooped on, I was elated. I had a brand new shirt, I’m like, ‘Look. I got poop on me. We should probably laminate this.’”
After over 100 days caring for PJ, her doctors and nurses say they’ll miss her, but they hope to see her again at one of the hospital’s annual reunions with families of NICU babies.
“Our baby Pearly Jo beat all the odds,” said Dr. Arpitha Chiruvolu, NICU medical director at Baylor Scott & White, noting that 60% of babies born as early as Pearly Jo never leave the hospital.
“Each and every baby has a purpose,” Chiruvolu added, “and she definitely has a purpose and we know she’s going to move mountains.”
What an incredible story! Praise God this baby is now safe and sound at home.