After 19 Months in the Hospital, Baby Weighing Just 1 Lb. at Birth Comes Home

"You can’t describe the feeling," dad Matthew Epling said of bringing his son home for the first time

A premature baby – born weighing just 1 lb., 14 oz. – went home for the first time after spending 19 months in an Ohio children’s hospital, according to local NBC affiliate WVVA.

The baby, named Douglas “Dougie” Epling, was born one week into the second trimester of his mother's pregnancy. The outlet reports that his lungs were not fully developed at that stage.

Earlier this month, Dougie finally came home. The baby's father, Matthew Epling, recalled driving his son home for the first time, saying, "You can’t describe the feeling."

He went on to share with WVVA how his son is captivated by life outside the hospital: "The colors just pop out at him. Sounds and noises, it’s brand new for him. All he’s ever heard were the sounds of a hospital room. It’s amazing, I’m speechless with it."

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After his lengthy stay in the hospital, Dougie still requires some medical care. The baby has a tracheotomy to assist him with breathing, as well as a feeding tube.

Matthew said they have "some medical staff," but the family is trained to handle common procedures like suctioning Dougie’s throat.

"It's like a trade off because now we're the doctors," he said.

According to Mayo Clinic, most premature babies are born in late preterm during 34 to 36 weeks of pregnancy. Symptoms of being born too early include small size, low body temperature and complications with breathing and feeding.

The Guardian reported earlier this year that premature births in the United States are becoming more common. From 2014 to 2022, the percentage of early births includes 12%, now affecting roughly 8.7% of pregnancies.

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Matthew continues to share Dougie’s story on Instagram. "Night 1 with Douglas at home. Hardest night of our life. lol Greatest night of our life. - but seeing him smile makes it ok," he captioned a post of his son.

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