A doting mom has shared a sweet video of her preemie baby giving her “bonus smiles” as he enjoys a bath after finally coming home from the NICU.
Mom Rachel Dommermuth, 33, from New Fairfield, Connecticut, sees every smile before her premature son’s due date as a bonus – a sentiment that resonated with tens of millions of people on social media.
While pregnant, Rachel was diagnosed with complete placenta previa, a potentially life-threatening condition for both mother and baby.
She said doctors described the diagnosis as a “ticking time bomb,” and after a couple of complications and hospital visits, doctors declared it was unsafe for Rachel to stay at home.
Having been admitted to the hospital on August 14, Rachel was later forced to give birth by an emergency cesarean on September 2, when she discovered she was welcoming a baby boy into the family.
Thomas James Dommermuth III – known as Tommy – was born at 32 and a half weeks, weighing just four pounds and nine ounces.
Because of the complications in Tommy’s birth, he was instantly brought to the NICU, where Rachel observed him in a glass crib with teary eyes.
Having spent 28 days in the NICU, Tommy was eventually able to head to his family’s home, where he was able to enjoy hot baths with his mom.
On one occasion, on October 20, Rachel took out her phone and recorded Tommy as warm water was poured over his head and a smile rose across his face from ear to ear.
Rachel dubbed these smiles “bonus smiles,” given she was able to witness them before what would have been Tommy’s due date.
After the video was shared online, it soon went viral with more than 20 million views and 1.7 million likes.
By sharing the story, she hopes to raise awareness of the incredible work of NICU nurses and give others facing high-risk pregnancies hope.
Rachel said: “He wasn’t supposed to be with us yet in this video.
“The smiles he shared are just a few that we weren’t supposed to experience yet.
“The truth is, things could be very different right now, but we are blessed to both be home and healthy.
“Every day before his due date was a gift or a bonus, and I like to believe he was just as excited to meet us as we were to meet him; he just couldn’t wait.
“Going through a nerve-wracking high-risk pregnancy and then navigating all the twists and turns of the NICU, I found strength in online support groups.
“Seeing that other parents had gone through what we were experiencing and came out on the survivor side gave us hope.
“By sharing this story, I would like to do the same.”