‘Tiny But Mighty’ Saybie, World’s Smallest Baby, Goes Home

Known as a micro-preemie, born at 23 weeks and 3 days, the baby was given only one hour to survive.

Baby Saybie resting comfortably at 3 pounds inside Sharp Mary Birch Hospital's NICU Unit, March 2019.
Baby Saybie resting comfortably at 3 pounds inside Sharp Mary Birch Hospital's NICU Unit, March 2019. (photo: All photos courtesy of Sharp Healthcare )

While the nation has become a battleground on the issue of abortion with states like Missouri, Alabama, and now Louisiana standing to protect babies in the womb — and on the other side — Illinois now passing legislation darker than the new abortion-on-demand laws in New York, we now can open our eyes to the miracle of life, witnessing one baby’s struggle for survival outside the womb this week. An expectant mother [who wishes to remain anonymous] entered into a San Diego hospital feeling “uncomfortable” and having pains. In a video released by Sharp Mary Birch Hospital, the mother said it was the “scariest day of my life.” 

“I kept telling them: ‘She’s not going to survive. She’s – I’m only 23 weeks [pregnant]’.” The mother was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, a complication some women experience in pregnancy involving high blood pressure, which can prove fatal for both mother and child. In the video, the mother says, “My blood pressure was over 200.” She was told by the doctors that the baby had to be born immediately to give her a fighting chance. Saybie’s mother had an emergency C-section three months ahead of her due date. Saybie’s birth was so premature, she fell under the category of “micro-preemie” — a baby born before 28 weeks’ gestation.

When Saybie was born in December 2018, she could fit into the palm of the doctor’s hand. Weighing the same as a large apple at just 8.6 ounces, she is believed to be the smallest premature birth on record to survive. Saybie’s dad was told he would have an hour with the baby “before she passed away” but “that hour turned into two hours, which turned into a day, which turned into a week...”

Sharp May Birch Hospital’s Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Registered Nurse Emma Wiest had heard about Baby Saybie as rumors of a ‘miracle baby’ quickly spread down the hospital corridor.

“It sounded unbelievable, because I mean, she’s about half the weight of a normal 23-weeker.” Wiest had to investigate and couldn’t believe her eyes. “You could hardly see her in the bed, she was so tiny.”

Her mother is so grateful for the love and support she received from Saybie’s primary care team. She was moved to tears walking in each day to visit her daughter, seeing signs that staff members wrote with monumental accomplishments the baby was making each day: “No More Feeding Tube,” “I’m 3 Pounds!,” and “Tiny but Mighty.”

Teeny-tiny Baby Saybie defied all odds and graduated from the NICU. She is now home weighing 5 pounds after 5 months in the hospital. Saybie captivated the hearts and minds of not only her parents but the entire medical team. Members of the staff couldn’t stop thinking about her, wondering how she was doing each day. Registered nurse Spring Birches said, “We do everything we can for each preemie, as well as we can, and after that, it’s really up to our babies,” adding, “Some really have the strength to go through it all and survive outside the womb.”

Baby Saybie is doing just that, fighting for her own life, and entering a world where many think being born is a choice at 23 weeks, not to mention, nearing a full 40. As I carry a child in my womb just 26 weeks old, feeling her kick and somersault around as space is getting cramped down there, I’m moved to tears thinking of this young baby with such an amazing story and life ahead. Here’s to hoping Saybie's story will enter into the national conversation about abortion because we all deserve a right to life, even with the odds stacked against us.