BARSTOW • At 1 pound 5 ounces and about 12 inches long, her parents say she was roughly the size of a Barbie doll when she was born four months premature a year ago Friday.

Abbygayle Quick now weighs 13 pounds — about the size of a six-month-old. Her mother, Tiffany Chitwood, still feeds her formula, which will keep Abbygayle from enjoying a birthday cake, and she only recently began rolling over — something babies typically learn by six months.

Abbygayle has yet to reach the developmental milestones of typical 1-year-olds, something that Chitwood and Abbygayle's father Jason Quick often finds difficult to deal with. But she laughs and smiles when her big brother Michael, 4, makes faces at her. She can hold her own in an imitation game with her dad. And her mother says she gets around by scooting on her back.

"She arches her back, head and legs," Chitwood said. "She's getting around and being a little terror, just not in a normal way."

Abbygayle spent the first six months of her life at Loma Linda Medical Center, her parents making daily trips to the hospital from Barstow to see her. When she was first born, doctors had to perform surgery to repair a valve in her heart and she was on oxygen until her lungs developed, Chitwood said.

Jason Quick, who works as a foreman for Pearce Enterprise, said he was shocked at how small Abbygayle was when he first met her.

"I've never seen anything like that before," he said. "She was extremely small."

Abbygayle weighed about eight pounds when Quick and Chitwood brought her home June 18, 2010. They celebrated with a barbecue to introduce Abbygayle to her aunts and uncles.

Everyone was surprised to see how small she was, Chitwood said.

Chitwood and Quick had to get used to a strict schedule for feeding Abbygayle and administering her medication. Abbygayle received nourishment through a feeding tube that her mom had to clean and change.

Because it took such a long time for her lungs to develop, Abbygayle came down with pneumonia two months ago and wound up in the hospital for about a week. Her mother also says Abbygayle is partially blind in her right eye, which will require her to wear glasses and a patch over her left eye to help her eyesight develop.

Things are looking up. A therapist has been working with Abbygayle to help her develop — currently she is trying to get her to sit up, Chitwood says. A neurologist Abbygayle sees says she is also progressing normally. But her mother says she and Quick won't know what kind of developmental challenges Abbygayle faces in the future until she is 2 years old.

"Once she hits two she should be a normal 2-year-old," she says.

Even though Abbygayle is the birthday girl Friday, Chitwood and Quick say they're going to wait until the one-year anniversary of her due date comes around before really celebrating.
"She's going to be spoiled and have two birthdays," she said. " Hopefully she'll be walking by then."

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(760) 256-4123 or jcejnar@desertdispatch.com