Lea Newson knew early in her pregnancy that a serious condition would force her fourth child to arrive before the May 6 due date.
What she and her husband, Bryan, never expected was that Michael Matthew would enter the world 17 weeks premature.
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"Michael had other plans," Lea Newson said.
The child was born Jan. 12 at Edward Hospital in Naperville. He weighed 1 pound, 8 ounces and was 13 inches long.
Despite his early arrival, Michael's parents say he hasn't had any major complications. After spending nearly four months in Edward's Newborn Intensive Care Unit, he got to go home to Aurora on Thursday with his parents and three siblings.
"It's phenomenal," Lea Newson said as the family prepared to leave the hospital with Michael. "We're all just like, 'Wow. This is really our baby now?' Now that he's going home today, we are just so excited."
Thursday marked the end of an ordeal that began when Lea Newson was 12 weeks into the pregnancy. That's when it was discovered she had placenta accreta, which is a condition where the placenta attaches itself too deeply and grows through the uterus. She learned after giving birth that she had the rarest and most severe form of the condition.
"So we were worried from the very beginning that something could happen," Lea Newson said, "something bad could happen."
Knowing the pregnancy required special attention, Bryan Newson said he and his wife realized the baby would have to be born early to minimize risk.
After consulting with their doctors, the Newsons decided to have the child delivered by C-section at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
"Since this is such a rare case, they referred us to a teaching hospital, a larger institution, where they thought there would be more people on hand should an incident occur and they have to deliver early," Bryan Newson said.
The plan was to have the delivery in early March.
But around 11:30 p.m. on Jan. 11, the couple were in bed watching television when Lea Newson started to bleed. By the time she got to the bathroom, the bleeding was so severe that she knew she had to go to the hospital.
The Newsons realized a trip to Northwestern was out of the question. They went to Edward because it was only minutes away and they had their third child there.
"So Saturday night, we packed up everybody and flew over here -- ran some red lights," Bryan Newson said.
Once they arrived at the hospital, Bryan Newson was impressed by the number of doctors who were available to do the emergency C-section and then provide additional treatment to his wife and newborn son.
"Everybody was just lining up," he said. "It was amazing. I think we were extremely fortunate."
Edward officials said the survival rate for babies born at 23 weeks is less than 20 percent. Michael immediately was put on a ventilator and received other treatment.
Bryan Newson admits that the first time he saw his son was "jarring."
"He was very tiny," he recalled. "It was just a scary situation. It was really hard to see anybody's baby that small and not knowing day by day if he was going to make it."
Instead of dwelling on what could go wrong, the Newsons focused on enjoying time with their son. They visited him in the hospital every day. On the weekends, Michael's older brothers and sister -- 14-year-old Nathaniel, 11-year-old Nicholas and 7-year-old Maya -- also made the trip.
On Thursday, Michael was going home weighing 5 pounds, 15 ounces. He had grown to 18 inches long.
"He is an amazing preemie," Bryan Newson said. "He did not have any major complications with him that typically come with babies born this early."
Michael went home with a monitor that provides him with oxygen as needed. Eventually, his lungs will develop to the point where he doesn't need the monitor.
Dr. Michael Fitzgerald said Michael is doing well because of the combined efforts of a team of people, including his parents and siblings and the nurses, doctors and others who treated him.
"We don't have any increased red flags on this baby, other than he was premature," said Fitzgerald, who is a neonatologist with Edward Hospital and DuPage Neonatology Associates. "We're sad that he has to go home on oxygen. But he's at a point where, developmentally, home is better than what we can do here."
Despite their visits to the hospital, Nathaniel, Nicholas and Maya weren't allowed to be in the same room with their younger brother until Thursday.
Nathaniel said he's looking forward to spending time with Michael.
"I'm super excited," Nathaniel said. "I'm happy we no longer have to leave over the weekends."