A baby girl born at just 23 weeks’ gestation was so small that her tiny foot was half the size as her mom’s forefinger, and her entire leg fitted into her sock.
Mom Mirva Rontti, 28, a primary school teacher from Rovaniemi, Finland, was in a classroom when her contractions began. She was rushed to a local hospital where she delivered her tiny daughter, Helmi Elina, in just two pushes.
Helmi’s parents feared the worst as she weighed just 1 pound 3 ounces (0.5 kg) and was fighting for life.
Due to her paper-thin, translucent skin, Helmi was kept warm by being wrapped in tiny knitted woolen socks gifted by the hospital. Though the stockings were smaller than her mom’s palm, they hung loose and baggy around little Helmi’s legs—coming right up to her tummy.
At 6 months old, the tiny fighter is now home and well, and can barely squeeze her foot into the little socks, showing how far she has come.
“It was so scary, crazy and ruthless,” Mirva said. “I felt so many emotions and cried almost every day. These tiny things are living proof that miracles do happen—with help of very skilled doctors and nurses.”
Mirva had always dreamed of having a baby, but after she got pregnant, she worried over what could go wrong.
“It has been very hard for my mother to bear children, so I was afraid it would happen to me as well,” she said. “I am also a preemie, gestation age 31 weeks.
“So, I was over the moon, but in the back of my head I felt that something would happen at some point.”
Mirva experienced stomach pains during her pregnancy, but her doctor reassured her nothing was wrong. On Dec. 4, 2020, only 23 weeks along, she was rushed from the school to Lapin Central Hospital for an ultrasound, which showed her waters were close to breaking.
They called for an ambulance to take her to Oulu Academic Hospital, a three-hour drive away, as it’s equipped for caring for premature babies.
Mirva said: “I was in shock and I started to shake. I didn’t even cry, I think my brain shut down at that moment.
“I just kept rewinding my day and the days before—did I do something to cause this? I played football with my students, was this the reason? It felt like [my body] was betraying me.
“Before we left I felt the urge to push, but they told me if my labor would start in the ambulance they couldn’t do anything to save our baby.
“So, I told my body to stop it and be calm until Oulu. It would take approximately three hours to go there.”
After an hour in the ambulance, Mirva’s water broke, but she held on until the hospital. Helmi was born a mere nine minutes after Mirva arrived at the hospital.
“She was totally bruised on her head and upper body, she was so red and almost transparent,” she said. “She looked like a small, super skinny little person.”
The next day, Mirva and new dad Teemu, 29, an IT specialist, were allowed to touch their daughter for the first time.
“It was so strange to be there where other parents had their baby with them and ours was laying intubated in an incubator,” she recalled.
“I was so scared. She had IVs and different cords coming from her. Her eyes were shut and the ventilator did the breathing for her.”
Helmi underwent 11 blood transfusions, treatment for retinopathy, and was on a ventilator for 5 weeks. Mirva was only able to hold her for the first time after 25 days.
It took the tiny baby over two months to hit a kilogram (2.2 pounds), and by then, her gifted woolen socks still would come up over her feet. Helmi stayed in the Oulu hospital for 125 days as she combated other complications, and was then transferred back to their local hospital.
Mirva and Teemu took their baby daughter home on April 15, weighing 4 pounds 5 ounces (1.9 kg), and are regularly monitoring her health.
“Being in NICU was a rollercoaster, but only if that rollercoaster was inside of a tornado,” Mirva said. “You never knew what was coming when you opened that elevator door which led to NICU.
“Helmi is kind of a ‘princess,’ she knows what she wants and wants to have things her way. I love her so, so much!”
Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.