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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — A micro-preemie baby went home just in time for Mother’s Day after spending 169 days in the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center NICU, according to a WFBMC news release.

River Wilson was born at the WFBMC on Nov. 15, 2020 at 25 weeks. His due date was March 1, 2021. He weighed 1 pound, 11 ounces and was 11 inches long – a few centimeters shorter than an average-sized Barbie doll.

Micro-preemies, like River, are babies born before 26 weeks gestation or weighing less than 1 pound, 12 ounces.

River was born to Jessica and Hayden Wilson, of Greensboro, and has two older sisters, Ridgely, 8, and Murphy, 2.

  • River enjoying his first official bath a few days ago.
  • Jessica's first time holding River. She had to wait 32 days until she was able to hold her son, due to his fragility.
  • Jessica's last time holding River in the NICU before he was discharged to go home.
  • River and his parents leave The Birth Center at Wake Forest Baptist after an almost six month stay.
  • River meeting his other big sister, Murphy.
  • River meeting one of his big sisters, Ridgley.
  • NICU staff lined the hallway to celebrate River going home.
  • River looks up at one of his nurses, Hannah Privette, as he prepares to go home.
  • River's first photo with his parents, a day after his birth, on Nov. 16, 2020

Almost 6-month-old River left the hospital on Monday after 169 days in the Dale and Karen Sisel NICU at Wake Forest Baptist. He now weighs 9 pounds, 4 ounces.

Jessica started going into labor with River when she was 19 weeks pregnant. She was admitted to The Birth Center where clinicians were able to delay her delivery for six more weeks.

“For 169 days, I stared out the NICU window and wondered when this day would actually happen,” Jessica said. “This day has always felt so far away, but it’s here now, and it’s the ultimate Mother’s Day gift. I remember when he was still in his incubator, I would tell him we’d see his discharge day, no matter what. The bonds that I have made with the staff here are just unbreakable. They took care of and saved my son and now because of them, his next chapter is starting.”

“Babies, like River, born at 25 weeks – almost 4 months early – can have a lot of complications,” said Corbin Downey, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics – neonatology at Wake Forest Baptist. “This is because their organ systems, from their brain to their lungs, are not yet fully developed. These babies stay with us in the NICU for several months, and it’s very rewarding to watch them grow and conquer so many obstacles and then get strong enough to go home.”

Due to COVID-19 visitor restrictions, River’s two sisters were not able to meet him until he arrived home yesterday.