A North Carolina couple celebrated their daughter's original due date Tuesday—almost 14 weeks after she was actually born—as well as the fact that she's beat the odds and is now thriving. Little E'Layah Faith Pegues was born prematurely on Sept. 23 weighing just 10 ounces, the Charlotte Observer reports, making her the tiniest surviving infant ever to be born at Carolinas Medical Center and one of the smallest babies ever, period. "E'Layah is our miracle baby girl," mom Megan Smith tells the Observer. And while she's still quite small—she clocked in at 3 pounds, 7 ounces as of Tuesday, the paper notes—the little girl nicknamed "Tater Tot" by staff is expected to head home from the hospital sometime in the next couple of weeks. "Five or even 10 years ago, it probably wouldn't have been possible for her to survive, much less thrive," the hospital's chief medical officer tells the Observer, noting to ABC News that she fit "head-to-toe" in the palm of his hand when she was born.
Part of E'Layah's success story can be attributed to the fact that, although she came into this world way early, she was healthy otherwise, so doctors and her parents simply had to slowly nurture her and let her body play catch-up, per the Observer. There were some frightening hitches along the way: She was born via emergency C-section after Smith noticed she wasn't moving one day, and E'Layah once had to be revived with CPR. And even doing routine tests proved dicey, as all the blood in her body totaled 1 ounce, which meant even one drop was precious. But Smith and her fiance, Eric Pegues, kept the faith—which is why "Faith" is also the baby's middle name. "We weren't going to give up on her," Smith says. E'Layah joins an elite list of newborns known as "The Tiniest Babies," which serves as a registry for surviving babies born at less than a pound. The smallest baby recorded thus far came into the world at around 9.2 ounces. (Premature birth was recently said to be the No. 1 killer of kids under 5.)