Eliora "Ellie" Schneider, one of the most premature babies ever to survive, made it home in time for her first Christmas today.
Ellie was due on Nov. 1 of this year, but she arrived months ahead of schedule. Robin, Ellie's 30-year-old mother, went into labor at just 21 weeks and six days during a routine examination. Her water broke and contractions began, but doctors were able to delay the birth for a time. Still, by mid-June, Ellie couldn't be stopped.
Ellie was born weighing just 13.6 oz. She was about the size of a coke can. "I did not think a human being could be so tiny," Robin told the DailyMail. "To be honest, it was scary to look at her."
Robin's medical care professionals say that the early birth was a result of her shortened cervix. At 18 weeks, it was one tenth of the size it was supposed to be.
"This meant that I could have gone into labor at any second," Robin recalled, "which would have been terrible because the doctors couldn't have helped her and she wouldn't have survived. It was a massive shock to us because I had thought me and the baby were healthy."
Robin and Joel, Ellie's father, already had one healthy child, Elijah, whose birth went off without a hitch. Suddenly, they were facing seemingly insurmountable odds.
"It's such a dream come true to have her home for Christmas," Robin said. "We kept praying for this as she grew stronger as the days passed in the hospital. Christmas is such a special time of the year. It's all about a baby and his birth and we are so fortunate that we have our own baby girl home to celebrate the season with.
"It truly is a Christmas miracle," she concluded.