Ten months later, the Wishard family has come a long way on a journey they realize is far from over. Father Chuck Wishard is back at work after an extensive family leave and Randi Wishard is at home caring for Rylee.
Big brother Chance is 6 years old and getting ready to start first grade. All summer, Chance has been helping his mother and entertaining his little brother.
Almost 11 months old, Rylee now weighs 13 pounds, 13 ounces, although medical problems continue to plague him and his family.
"Every day is still a struggle," Randi Wishard said.
Home in time for Christmas 2003, Rylee's continuing medical problems sent him back to Shady Grove for four more weeks of treatment. Then there was a three-week stay at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., after which Rylee has been home continuously since March.
In his young life, Rylee has had laser surgery to prevent his retina from detaching and will have to wear glasses when he starts walking.
He still is laboring with the effects of a lung disease known as RSV.
His weight and development are a little behind, but the Wishards say they are glad Rylee has made it this far.
"He has reflux disease, which means he has to have a special formula, but he eats regular baby food and he really likes it," Randi Wishard said.
In fact, Rylee eats cereal in the evening and then sleeps through the night, something big brother Chance still doesn't do, Chuck Wishard said.
"Rylee was a favorite at Shady Grove Hospital," he said. One of the nurses and her husband are godparents to Rylee and Chance.
After Randi Wishard, who has diabetes, was released from the hospital last September, she visited Rylee every day with her husband.
"I don't think I could have made it without the people at Shady Grove. I'd be crying and I'd always get a hug," she said.
Randi Wishard, who used to work at the Urological Center at Robinwood, is hoping to find part-time work or a job she can do from home, since it will be a long time before she can leave Rylee.
Chuck Wishard returned to his job at Alban Tractor in Sterling, Va., after his family leave ended.
"The people at my work were terrific there during this past year, especially my supervisor," he said.
Friends and family have helped in many ways during the many trips to hospitals. Randi and Chuck Wishard are thankful for all the church congregations who prayed for Rylee.
"People we don't even know stop us and ask about Rylee," Randi Wishard said. "They say they've been praying for him."
Giggling as his brother played with him last week in the kitchen of their Pondsville Road home, Rylee's first two teeth were plain to see. The family is hoping such baby milestones will become routine as their "miracle" child gets ready to celebrate his first birthday.