Thankful Parents Break Down In Tears When Their Preemie ‘Graduates’ From NICU

Last year, Arkell Graves and Dana Griffin-Graves won hearts around the world when the expectant mom surprised her husband with the news that he was about to be a dad!

She caught him on video in the process of realizing that she was five months along with a “bun in the oven,” and his delighted, tearful reaction quickly went viral as people all over the world responded to their truly heartwarming birth announcement.

Dana kept the news to herself for five long months, much longer than the traditional three months, because she wanted to be absolutely sure before she told anyone.

The couple had suffered through the pain of four previous miscarriages and one stillbirth; they had spent 17 years trying to get pregnant before finally deciding that maybe it wasn’t in the cards for them.

They adopted a little boy named Keelyn and were content as a little family of three.

Then, Dana realized that they might soon become four, against the odds.

When Dana finally revealed the happy news to Arkell, it opened up a whole new chapter in their lives — but the couple still had trials ahead.

baby bun graduates

When Dana and Arkell Graves found out they were pregnant, the couple was overjoyed.

After four miscarriages, one stillbirth, and over 17 years of trying for another baby, the two felt truly blessed by the news.

The overjoyed parents-to-be filmed a pregnancy announcement that would quickly go viral, much to their surprise.

Based on the viral video (which you can watch below), they nicknamed their bun in the oven “Baby Bun,” and eagerly anticipated his arrival, four months down the line.

baby bun graduates

But their little baby boy had other plans, and he was making his way into the world a whole lot earlier than anticipated.

Just weeks after their pregnancy announcement went viral, Dana went into labor, and delivered beautiful, tiny Kaleb Arkell Graves on October 20, 2015.

baby bun graduates

Kaleb Graves was a cherished part of the family from the moment his mom realized that he was growing inside of her, but it would be a long time before he could join Mom, Dad, and his older brother, Keelyn.

When little Kaleb was born, he weighed less than a pound, coming in it at just 13 oz.

The tiny tyke was a fighter from the very beginning, but he had a long road to recovery ahead of him.

baby bun graduates

Now, almost exactly one year after his birth, Kaleb is finally “graduating” from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU.

His parents celebrated the big occasion in style, declaring Kaleb’s homecoming to be his very first graduation!

After all, this is a milestone that most tots never have an occasion to celebrate, so it’s important for the Graves to toast to their little one for his impressive accomplishment of getting big, healthy, and strong enough to finally leave the hospital!

baby bun graduates

Last Marc — six months after his birth — it looked like Baby Bun would be leaving the hospital at last.

At that time, he had chronic lung disease, which is common in premature babies whose lungs didn’t have time to develop fully in the womb, but had graduated to a non-invasive ventilator.

He had also had a successful surgery to repair a hole in his heart, and the whole family was optimistic that he’d be coming home soon.

baby bun graduates

In the spring, Kaleb suffered some health setbacks, which kept him from coming home as soon as his family thought he would.

He had to have a tracheostomy tube put in his throat to help him breathe, and he needed a g-tube in his stomach to help him eat and get the nutrients he needed.

His great escape from the hospital, which the whole family had been gleefully awaiting, had to be put aside for another six months so that Kaleb could get healthy again.

baby bun graduates

It’s not too surprising that the Grave’ kicked off little Kaleb’s going away party from the hospital with a bang!

All of Kaleb’s doctors and nurses, who spent a whole year getting him healthy again, were on-hand to say goodbye to their tough little patient, who has grown from 13 oz. to a whopping 13 pounds!

Pretty soon, we have no doubt that this cutie will be running around and showing off those lungs, which are getting stronger every day. For now, he’ll have to be content with showing off his adorable cap-and-gown as he celebrates the first of many milestone graduations!

baby bun graduates

As of October 11, 2016, he’s finally home for the very first time, and his parents couldn’t be more thrilled that their Baby Bun is finally, truly, out of the oven.

Dad even brought things full circle in this beautiful picture, where he cries tears of joy to have his boy on the way out of the hospital.

Baby Kaleb is cracking us up with his stoic expression, but once he’s old enough to watch the viral video of his own birth announcement, we think he’ll understand just how special this moment is for his parents.

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