Former 'micro-preemie' turns 4 years old

17 News brought you the story of Willow 3 years ago ...

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Three years ago, 17 News introduced the community to Willow Crisostomo. Willow was born a micro preemie, only 22 weeks gestation— among the earliest of premature babies to ever survive.

This week, Willow turns 4 years old and 17 News caught up with the Crisostomo family to find out how she's doing.

You might look at Willow Crisostomo and think she's a typical four-year-old little girl.

But then you see her next to her younger sister, and you get the perspective of just how tiny she is. For the Crisostomo family — Willow's life has been all about perspective.

"They didn't think she would make it," said Willow's Mom, Stephanie. "Twenty-two weeks is just on the cusp of viability, some would say not even. The statistics were five percent chance of survival, 95 percent chance of cognitive delays."

Willow's parents said the odds were stacked against her. Every day in the NICU was a test of Joseph and Stephanie Crisostomo's faith.

Four years later— her progress is astounding. Her mother admitting the cognitive delays aren't even there.

"She'll say things like, 'I was a sick baby and God healed me,'" Willow's dad, Joseph said. "Just a few minutes ago, she said 'I was a sick baby and Jesus hold me,' and I was like, 'oh yeah He did—He really did hold you.'"

Her parents admit there are day-to-day tantrums and timeouts that come with raising a four year old and her one-and-a-half-year-old sister. 

"Do you know how hard it is to discipline a former micro-preemie?" Stephanie said.

Willow's parents cling to the perspective and purpose they have had since the day she was born. 

"I am not sure why we were chosen, but I am glad we are able to share," Joseph said. "Because I know that first 24-48 hours with a premature baby is extremely terrifying, so for us to have lived through it and made it to the other side, gives us the confidence that we can encourage folks going though the same thing."

This week Willow and her family celebrated er birthday with a trip to Disneyland.

Stephanie says she has to remind herself to tone it down sometimes, because she has a tendency to want to go overboard with Willow's birthday celebrations—which is understandable.

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