Beth Hutchinson went to her doctor thinking she might have a urinary tract infection. Instead, the first-time mom was stunned when her obstetrician said she was going into labor.
“I didn’t even have a labor plan ready,” Beth said.
“I had only just got to my halfway point of my pregnancy, so it was like, ‘I’m not ready for any of this.'”
That night, the couple arrived at The Mother Baby Center at Children’s Minnesota Hospital in Minneapolis.
Because Beth was only 21 weeks pregnant, the couple was told that there was a 0% chance that their son would survive his birth.
“We were both like, ‘That’s just not an option,'” Beth says. “I knew he had a chance.”
After spending years trying to get pregnant, the couple refused to give up on their son.
“Family is family,” says Rick, a 40-year-old manager of a gas station. “Nobody else is going to fight for him — if we don’t fight for him, who else is going to?”
Richard Scott William Hutchinson was born at 7:15 a.m. June 5 weighing only 11.9 ounces, which is less than three-quarters of a pound.
Four hours after he was born, the baby was stable. Rick and Beth could finally meet their son in the NICU.
“I couldn’t say anything because I was crying,” Beth says. “I remember how tiny he was. He was smaller than my hand. But I was thinking, ‘This little man has survived his birth. He’s such a fighter, he’s going to make it.’ “
Richard spent six months in the hospital amid a series of health challenges, including two months on a ventilator, but he pushed through alongside his parents and was discharged on Dec. 4.
At the time, he weighed just 9 pounds, 5 ounces. Now 17.5 pounds, he still requires supplemental oxygen (though increasingly less), and he has a feeding tube (which they hope will be gone by the time he turns 2). And though premature children are often at risk for developmental delays and cerebral palsy, his doctors are optimistic about his prognosis.
“We won’t know for sure until we see him grow up a little bit more, but I have very high hopes for this baby,” says Dr. Stacy Kern, Richard’s neonatologist at Children’s Minnesota. “He’s remarkable.”
And he’s made history. When Richard celebrated his first birthday in June, Guinness World Records named him the most premature baby to survive, as he arrived 131 days before his Oct. 13, 2020 due date.
“He’s our miracle baby,” Beth says. “He’s just an amazing little boy.”
A happy and smiley toddler, Richard loves puppies and playing peek-a-boo with his father.
“We just want to encourage other parents not to give up,” says Beth. “It’s so hard to believe how big Richard is now, knowing how tiny he was.”