SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - The families of dozens of "miracle" babies celebrated a milestone at Baystate Children's Hospital Saturday.
They are in the running to be the youngest graduating class in the Pioneer Valley.
"She was born at 28 weeks, she was three months early at 2 pounds, 7 ounces. She was in the NICU for 4 weeks," said Jenn Tallarita of Enfield, Conn.
Sophia is now almost 16 pounds and will celebrate her 1st birthday on July 3rd. She joined dozens of other "miracle babies" for Baystate's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit graduation.
Families reunited with the nurses and doctors who helped care for their babies.
"Everything is great we were happy to come here today and see the people that are like our extended family. [We met] the babies that she grew up next to," said Tallarita.
Each year nearly 600 babies are cared for inside Baystate's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NCIU). And the nurses who work there say it is the connection with the families that helps the babies grow.
"Having the families be part of the care, be there right from the beginning to touch, to provide milk to love. I think that's the biggest change," said NICU Nurseries Nurse Manager Dale Parenteau.
But the center doesn't only treat premature babies. Lauralle Williamson experienced complications while giving birth.
"He had aspirated meconium into his lungs. He was actually 9 pounds and 4 ounces. He was the biggest baby in the NICU. I think all the babies in there whose mom's were in there like 24 hours a day like I was, I think their babies went home faster," said Lauralle Williamson of her son Liam.
The Neonatal Intenstive Care Unit is the only one of its kind in the Pioneer Valley; providing the highest level of care in the region.