When Rodericka Moore was just 20 weeks pregnant, doctors told her that she had high blood pressure and an alarmingly high protein count.
“Everyone was freaking out,” Moore, 25, tells PEOPLE. “I had to be transferred to another hospital and was told I’d be having my baby very soon.”
She was diagnosed with preeclampsia, a rapidly progressive pregnancy condition characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine.
Just five weeks earlier, when she was 15 weeks pregnant, Moore had her gender reveal party.
“I paid to have the 4D ultrasound,” says Moore of High Point, North Carolina. “I had the urge to do it early and I never knew why.”
She happily told her friends and family that she’d be having a baby boy named Amari.
“It was so exciting,” says Moore, who also has a 1-year-old son. “So it was really scary when they started talking about the NICU. I was crying because I didn’t know what to expect and no clue what the outcome would be.”
At 22 weeks pregnant, doctors told Moore and her husband Andre, 27, that if the baby had to be delivered at that moment, he wouldn’t survive.
“They said they’d do everything they could, but it isn’t until the baby is 25 weeks that they can get guarantee he has a chance of surviving,” she says.
Doctors tried to prolong delivery as long as possible, but at 24 weeks, Moore developed HELLP syndrome, a life-threatening pregnancy condition that was a complication from the preeclampsia.
“The baby had to be delivered,” she says. “I was put to sleep for an emergency C-section.”
Amari was born in February at just 15 ounces. Doctors told her that he had a 10 percent chance of surviving.
“They didn’t see him making it through the night,” she says. “But I had faith. Every day was a miracle.”
The first time she saw her newborn son, Moore says she couldn’t fight back the tears.
“I looked at him as a mother and I was excited. I still had the new mom feeling. It’s only now that I realize how small and fragile he was at the time,” she says.
Baby Amari was in the neonatal intensive care unit for 120 days and has survived four hernia surgeries and phenomena.
Now at 8 months old, Amari is 11 pounds, 11 ounces, and continues to grow and thrive. The proud parents celebrate every milestone, including the first time he rolled over.
“He’s a healthy and playful baby,” Moore says. “He wants to play with his brother. He’s underweight, of course, and isn’t doing what babies his age are doing. He’s still on milk and can’t eat baby food, but he’s doing great.”
She adds, “He stands up straight on his feet and then he falls. He doesn’t see himself as a baby who was born at 24 weeks.”
The couple says they are blessed for every day they’ve had with him.
“When he was born they told me they didn’t know if he’d make it two weeks,” she says. “We’re very lucky.”