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Baby who spent first 311 days of life in NICU finally comes home

Parents celebrate the “miraculous” survival of their “amazing” Baby Grace.

SAN ANTONIO — The laughs, the coos, and even the cries resonate as the sweet sounds of the amazing Gracie Bernal. She was born Monday, May 7, 2018, which was exactly three months earlier than her scheduled August due date. She weighed one pound and six ounces.

“In the movies, you always hear the babies come out crying,” said Gretchen Bernal, Grace's mother. “When [the doctors] delivered Gracie, they started counting, and that’s how we knew something was different.”

Baby Gracie, as her family knows her, was not breathing when she was born. While fighting to take her first breath, doctors were finding other complications with her health.

“She had a hole in her intestines that killed about 70 percent of her intestines,” her father Javier said. “The surgeon came up to us and said, ‘If I have to cut anymore, she may not make it.’”

After a fight that lasted 311 days, Baby Gracie came out on top as one of the few premature babies to leave the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit alive.

“We just know that prayer works,” Bernal said. “We’re very aware that other parents don’t have the same experience as we did. We always keep them in mind and encourage anyone who has time to go visit them and pray for them.”

The Bernal home was lively and filled with family members, nurses, toys and dance music. Gracie’s father only put her down for a brief nap. The rest of the time, he danced with her and played with her, keeping her close to his chest.

“When they told us we were clear to go home, my first thought was, ‘It’s about time!’” Bernal said with relief. “We’ve been pushed. We have been pulled, our faith has been tested and we have become stronger.”

The family was grateful for the Ronald McDonald House, which hosted them for eight months, and to all the nurses, doctors and community members who prayerfully supported them through their journey.