BEND, Ore. - Born three months early at 1 pound, 10 ounces, Brynlee Cordell weighed less than a pineapple.
"When she was born it was very intense," Brynlee's dad, Josh Cordell, said Monday "She was so small everything was just happening so fast."
Born so early, Brynlee had a number of complications. So to monitor her vital signs, she was given a blood pressure cuff. which can fit right around a ring finger.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one of every eight babies is born prematurely each year in the United States.
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) teams like the one at St. Charles-Bend save these small lives.
"We start with the basics, which is skin -- that's our biggest organ," said Ronda Bates, a neonatal transport and resuscitation nurse.
Adding humidity to some isolettes helps mature a preemie's skin to protect them from infections. The machines also regulates their body temperature.
Providing respiratory help, lactation support and physical therapy, the St. Charles-Bend NICU team literally nurses babies to health.
Occupational therapists give infant massages for comfort, and to help circulate fluids. Nurses also just give babies social interaction when parents can't be around.
"It's an honor to be able to be there during the delivery," Bates said. "It's an honor to be there through the difficult times, and it's so awesome to see them go home."
Although not all stories from the NICU have a happy ending, Brynlee is one of the many NICU success stories.
'She's a very happy baby," Cordell said.
Now more than 12 pounds, Brynlee is leaps and bounds from where she started, back when her dad says he could fit his wedding ring around her bicep.
"We're just so thankful for the incredible work they did with Brynlee," Cordell said.
It's incredible work the St. Charles NICU does on a daily basis for hundreds of families across the High Desert.
Brynlee went home in November, right around her due date. She is on quarantine now, and only leaves the house for doctors' appointments and walks.
Not all the babies in the NICU are premature. The unit also takes care of sick babies.
Bates said in her eight years working at the hospital, she has not once seen the NICU empty.