This is the beautiful moment a baby born at 22 weeks 'graduates' from intensive care

This is the beautiful moment a baby born at 22 weeks 'graduates' from intensive care

In 2017, Alabama couple Robert and Molli Potter experienced two miscarriages. "We were going to wait for another year," Robert told People, "and then lo and behold, God had different plans for us when we found she was pregnant again." A cause for celebration, but little did they know the harrowing journey that lay ahead.

Shortly after becoming pregnant, Molli experienced difficulties and spent three weeks at Pensecola hospital. It was there the doctors gave them devastating news: Their baby had a two percent chance of living. Nothing could be done to save him. And even if he somehow survived, he could suffer from several mental disabilities.

Couple with severely premature baby Credit: USA Children's and Women's Hospital

However, Molli and Robert didn't give up. They decided their baby boy, whom they had named Cullen, deserved a fighting chance. The doctors said that if Cullen was born before 24 weeks gestation, they would not try to save him. Robert called 16 hospitals across three states, in search of one that would accommodate a child born before that deadline.

They found a facility, and just in the nick of time. Days after transferring to USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital, Molli gave birth to Cullen through an emergency Caesarian section. The boy weighed only 13.9 ounces, but was alive. Amazingly, he survived, despite the odds.

22 week baby born premature Credit: Robert Potter

"I remember the first time I saw him, he could basically sit in my hand. He was just so tiny. It was just the most beautiful tiny little object I had ever seen in my life," said Robert. "His skin was almost clear and he couldn’t open his eyes. He had a tube in his mouth that was almost as big as his whole mouth. But it was amazing he was there."

After spending five months in the hospital, the brave boy is finally ready to go home. Now Cullen weighs a healthy five pounds, eleven ounces, and is said to be free from all the difficulties described in the nightmarish prognosis. "They kept telling us he could have brain damage, or his organs could not be fully formed," Robert recalled. "But everything he could have had — and more than likely should have had — he didn’t. Not any of them."

And what's the best way to celebrate Cullen's 'graduation' from intensive care? Throwing a graduation ceremony. The couple dressed the little warrior up in a cap and gown (borrowed from a Build-A-Bear doll) and paraded him down the hallway, while "Pomp and Circumstance" played in the background.

baby born prematurely at 22 weeks, now ready to go home, after five months in the hospital Credit: Robert Potter

On Facebook, Molli shared a emotional post celebrating her miracle baby:

"He was born at 22.2 weeks weighing 13.9 oz. after 160 days he finally got to come home. 5 months old and 5 lbs 11 oz. No major issues. Our local hospital flat out said they would not save him before 24 weeks and he had a 2% chance to live.

"I opted to transfer (after my husband called 16 hospitals in 3 states to find one that would save him). They acted like transferring was pointless, that trying to save him was pointless. Well, here he is. Alive and thriving. Never give up.

"The hospital I transferred to that did save him with no hesitation was USA women’s and children’s in Mobile AL. They are AMAZING at what they do.

"They believe in these small babies and give them the fighting chance they deserve. I pray the more doctors and hospitals see stories like my sons and many more, that they will reconsider their policy and give all the babies the chance they deserve."

family with 22 week baby born prematurely Credit: Rober Potter

Congratulations to the Potter family!