A premature baby so tiny his mum described him as the size of a “Barbie doll” has defied the odds to survive and is now celebrating his second birthday, after spending 144 days in hospital.
Cole Rosenburg was just 498g when he was born 16 weeks early.
He was so small doctors told his parents, Hayley and Nick Rosenburg, both now 33, that their son was unlikely to survive.
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Cole spent nearly five months in a US medical centre battling a brain bleed and learning to breathe independently before he was able to go home in August 2021.
In November 2022, Cole was diagnosed with spastic triplastic cerebral palsy which limits movement due to muscle stiffness and spasms but his parents hope he will make good progress as he is able eat, sit up by himself with support and roll over.
Hayley, from San Diego in the US, said: “It was crazy when he was born – he looked like a Barbie doll.
“Cole was requiring a lot of oxygen and they discovered a brain bleed.
“Now he’s extremely behind. He can barely sit by himself and can’t stand or crawl.
“But he’s doing things they said he wouldn’t do.
“We’re hopeful that he’ll keep progressing. He’s amazing and I can’t imagine my life without him.”
Hayley and Nick were over the moon when they fell pregnant with Cole. The couple’s first son, Connor, died when he was four days old in July 2020 from hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy.
With Cole, Hayley started bleeding when she was just three months pregnant but doctors could not see anything wrong and kept a close eye on her for the rest of her pregnancy.
But when she was just 23 weeks and three days pregnant, Hayley woke up and knew she was in labour.
She was rushed to hospital were doctors confirmed she was 3cm dilated and in labour.
Doctors gave her steroid shots and medication to slow labour but she was told she could give birth any time in the next 16 weeks.
Two days later, Hayley started having contractions again.
“I went from 3cm to 9cm in 20 minutes,” she said.
“He was breach so they had to do a C-section and I could feel his feet coming out of me.”
After her epidural failed, Hayley had to be given a general anaesthetic during the birth and, when she gained consciousness, had no idea if her little boy had survived.
“I woke up and I didn’t know what had happened,” she said. “I asked a nurse, ‘Is my baby alive?’
“She didn’t know at first, but she found out and told me, ‘He’s alive and your husband is with him’.”
When Hayley met Cole for the first time, she couldn’t believe the size of him.
“He was the smallest thing I had seen,” she said. “Nick had seen him already, so he wasn’t in so much shock.”
Doctors said they had discovered a grade four brain bleed and Cole was also diagnosed with retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) – an eye disease..
“I didn’t know if he would be blind, but fortunately he can see us,” Hayley said.
After 144 days in hospital, Cole went home on oxygen — a month after his due date on July 9, 2021.
Cole is now a happy little boy but is behind on his milestones and can’t stand, crawl or walk.
He was officially diagnosed with spastic triplastic cerebral palsy in November 2022 and now has Botox injections to help his muscle tightness.
But Hayley and Nick hope he will learn to eat, sit up and roll over by himself.
“He’s the happiest little thing ever,” Hayley said.
“He’s never upset or cries and we’re hopeful for the future.”
On October 19, 2022, the couple welcomed Cole’s little brother, Ryan, weighing 3.22kg.