He's a spunky, smiley little toddler now, but 15 months ago Eli Workentine was a patient at Bryan Health's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
"Nobody really tells you how to have a baby when he's going to be in the NICU," said Amy Workentine, Eli's mother. "You picture being able to see him and hold him right away, and for us, that wasn't the case."
Workentine had severe preeclampsia, which resulted in a delivery nine weeks early.
"I was afraid to hold him the first time," she said. "I've experienced older babies, but this tiny little thing, and he's got wires and cords and tubes."
The family returned to the hospital Wednesday, along with other NICU families for a reunion with the nurses and doctors that cared for them while they were in the facility.
"When we left the NICU, it was kind of bittersweet," said Nate Workentine. "Because here you have all of this support and now your family and your friends."
Bryan's NICU is a young facility--less than six years old.
"You look back and think, 'Over five years ago we had only started. It was zero, and now in that five and a half years, we've been able to achieve this number.' It's very gratifying and seeing all of these happy families," said Dr. Albert Owusu-Ansah.
So doctors say they are humbled and surprised to see how many people showed up to celebrate.