Good NewsParentingMiracle Baby Grae Beats the Odds, Leaves NICU After 247 Days

Miracle Baby Grae Beats the Odds, Leaves NICU After 247 Days

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A family has shared the beautiful moment their daughter, who was born nearly four months early, was finally able to leave the NICU after a 247-day stay.


River was due to be born on September 7, 2023, but on May 7 of that year, her mom Shelby Rutledge’s water broke unexpectedly at only 22 weeks and four days pregnant.

At the time, doctors told Shelby that they were in a gray area – which later resulted in River being given the middle name Grae – as there was a chance she would not survive if she were born so early.

Doctors gave Shelby, 26, a series of injections and put in place precautionary measures, all to keep River inside her mom for as long as possible.

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Every night, Shelby said, she prayed while being on bed rest in the hospital, hoping that River was okay, as staff monitored the youngster’s progress.


Then, after 16 days in hospital, Shelby gave birth to River, who, at the time, weighed just one pound and six ounces.

Though River was born at 24 weeks, her lungs were only at the level of a 22-week-old’s, Shelby said, as that was when her water broke.

As a result, the family was told that they may need to expect River to remain in the NICU for up to a year, with Shelby documenting her daughter’s progress on her social media account.

After more than seven months in Oklahoma Children’s Hospital’s NICU, the family was finally told that River was well enough to go home.


On January 25, 2024, they made their way out of the NICU, where Shelby’s mom recorded the staff’s uplifting reaction as River made her way out of the hospital.

Shelby said that River is now home on less oxygen, growing and thriving every day.

She added: “Being clapped out of the NICU after 247 days was bittersweet.

“Everyone was crying – and I mean sobbing.

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“We had created such a bond with the nurses, doctors, greeters, janitors, valet, everybody.

“The NICU was our second home, to say the least, so to say goodbye was hard.

“The response to Rivers videos on social media has been mind-blowing.

“I created this TikTok to keep track of River’s growth and because nights at home without her were tough – no mom wants to have to leave their baby.

“Her videos gave me hope, and I replayed each moment I had with her.

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“After I posted the video of River’s dad holding her for the first time at 22 days old, our TikTok blew up, and everyone else wanted to stay posted.

“Many moms have reached out with their stories and testimonies, and it has been amazing to hear and receive so much encouragement and love.

“I hope others are encouraged by River’s story.

“We were told River may not make it multiple times.

“River turned around and showed everyone exactly what she’s made of and who she came to be.

“Strong. Resilient. Brave.”

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