Ronald Guido took off his wedding ring and slid it over his newborn daughter’s tiny hand, then all the way up to her shoulder without it touching her skin.
At 11 ounces, Dakota Juanita Guido will have to grow into everything, even the arms of her parents, who were still waiting to hold her Thursday, 10 days after she was born.
No bigger than the Beanie Baby teddy bear that sits at her feet, Dakota was delivered by Caesarean section 14 weeks early after doctors worried she would be in danger because her mother, Sahara Guido, had diabetes and high blood pressure.
The average baby weighs about 2 pounds at 26 weeks, said Dr. Rita Ryan of Women & Children’s Hospital. That’s about three times the size of Dakota.
“She came out and did really well. She was vigorous and looked good,” Ryan said, “but was tiny.”
The little girl breathes with a ventilator and gets nutrition through a tube the width of a spaghetti strand while monitors flash vital statistics overhead.
Her parents gently touch her through portholes in her incubator, but they cannot hold her yet. She was christened in a white handkerchief that more than covered her body.
“Sahara changed her first diaper today,” said 42-year-old Ronald Guido, drawing a cheer from his wife of four years who said the couple has long wanted a baby.
Dakota described as 'feisty'
“It’s just so unbelievable how small she is and how feisty and that she already has an attitude,” said 38-year-old Sahara Guido.
The parents have been fixtures at the baby’s hospital bedside since her birth.
“I can’t tear myself away from her as it is. I want to be here with her. I need to be here with her,” said her mother, who was hospitalized for nearly a month before the delivery.
Babies born at 26 weeks have a 90 percent survival rate at the hospital’s neonatal unit, Ryan said.
The smallest baby ever to survive is believed to be an 8.6-ounce girl born in September near Chicago. Rumaisa Rahman was released from the hospital in February. Her twin sister, who weighed 1 pound, 4 ounces, also survived.
On Thursday, Dakota kicked legs resembling adult fingers, toes smaller than grains of rice moving from blanket to air.
Ultrasounds indicate her brain is fine, Ryan said.
“There isn’t anything really wrong with her, other than her prematurity,” the doctor said.