Mom gives birth to 13-ounce 'miracle' baby

Ellonn Smartt was just 23 weeks pregnant when her water broke. Even though the mom from Des Moines, Iowa wasn't due until November, she stayed calm.

"I knew if I panicked, the baby would pick up on that and get stressed," Smartt told TODAY Parents. "I couldn't let that happen."

But Smartt broke down crying when doctors at Iowa Methodist Medical Center explained the seriousness of the situation.

"They said I was going to have to deliver in the next day or two and there was a good chance he wouldn't survive," Smartt recalled. "That was the moment when I fell apart. I was heartbroken."

Baby Jaden weighed 13 ounces when he was born at 23 weeks gestation.

Smartt and her boyfriend, Jordan Morrow, welcomed Jaden Wesley Morrow via C-section on July 11. He weighed just 13 ounces. (According to the World Health Organization, the average birth weight for male babies born full term is 7 pounds, 6 ounces.)

The little boy came out fighting.

"His arms and toes were moving and he was trying to breathe on his own," Smartt told TODAY Parents. "He's our little miracle."

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Jaden was transferred to the NICU at Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines. He will be discharged on his Nov. 6 due date.

"For most part, Jaden is stable," Smartt said. "He's on a ventilator and had a small infection, but his doctors think he looks great. He's getting breast milk and gaining weight."

Ellonn Smartt and her boyfriend, Jordan Morrow, welcomed their son Jaden on July 11, 2019.

Jaden has a long road ahead, according to Dr. Krista Haines, a neonatologist at DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Babies born at 23 weeks are risk for developing premature lung disease, brain bleeds, infections, bone fractures and blindness.

"Long term we know that there are motor and cognitive delays as well as fine motor delays," Haines said. She noted that very premature babies are at higher risk for developing autism spectrum disorder and ADHD.

"We know too that some of these babies do really, really well and that they can function similar to their peers," Dr. Haines said. "Early intervention is the most important thing. It's absolutely crucial."

Smartt is counting down the days until Jaden sleeps in his own crib. "I have moments where I get sad because I want him home with me," she said. "But I am staying positive for Jaden."

20 PHOTOS
Best Hospitals: 2018-2019
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Best Hospitals: 2018-2019

20. Brigham and Women's Hospital

Where: Boston
Honor Roll points: 177
Last year's Honor Roll rank: Not ranked

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19. Duke University Hospital

Where: Durham, North Carolina
Honor Roll points: 178
Last year's Honor Roll rank: 17th

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18. Mount Sinai Hospital

Where: New York
Honor Roll points: 192
Last year's Honor Roll rank: 18th

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17. Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Where: Nashville, Tennessee
Honor Roll points: 198
Last year's Honor Roll rank: Not ranked

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15 (tie). UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside

Where: Pittsburgh 
Honor Roll points: 208
Last year's Honor Roll rank: 14th

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15 (tie). NYU Langone Hospitals

Where: New York
Honor Roll points: 208
Last year's Honor Roll rank: 19th

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14. Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania-Penn Presbyterian

Where: Philadelphia 
Honor Roll points: 225
Last year's Honor Roll rank: 10th

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13. Northwestern Memorial Hospital

Where: Chicago 
Honor Roll points: 228
Last year's Honor Roll rank: 13th

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11 (tie). Mayo Clinic Phoenix

Where: Phoenix
Honor Roll points: 241
Last year's Honor Roll rank: 20th

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11 (tie). Barnes-Jewish Hospital

Where: St. Louis 
Honor Roll points: 241
Last year's Honor Roll rank: 12th

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10. New York-Presbyterian Hospital

Where: New York
Honor Roll points: 242
Last year's Honor Roll rank: 8th

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9. Stanford Health Care-Stanford Hospital

Where: Stanford, California
Honor Roll points: 250
Last year's Honor Roll rank: 9th

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8. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Where: Los Angeles 
Honor Roll points: 252
Last year's Honor Roll rank: 11th

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7. UCLA Medical Center

Where: Los Angeles 
Honor Roll points: 267
Last year's Honor Roll rank: 7th

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6. UCSF Medical Center

Where: San Francisco
Honor Roll points: 296
Last year's Honor Roll rank: 5th

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5. University of Michigan Hospitals-Michigan Medicine

Where: Ann Arbor
Honor Roll points: 324
Last year's Honor Roll rank: 6th

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4. Massachusetts General Hospital

Where: Boston 
Honor Roll points: 354
Last year's Honor Roll rank: 4th

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3. Johns Hopkins Hospital

Where: Baltimore 
Honor Roll points: 355
Last year's Honor Roll rank: 3rd

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2. Cleveland Clinic

Where: Cleveland 
Honor Roll points: 385
Last year's Honor Roll rank: 2nd

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1. Mayo Clinic

Where: Rochester, Minnesota
Honor Roll points: 414
Last year's Honor Roll rank: 1st

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