Her bright blue eyes and beaming smile don't reveal the struggle little Mackenzie went through in her first six months of life.
She weighs 14 pounds now, but was no bigger than a television remote when she was born.
"When I first saw her, I thought I would pass out," said her mom, Joy Tackett, about seeing her newborn in St. Mary's infant intensive-care unit. "It just scared the heck out of me."
Born July 12, Mackenzie weighed 1 pound, 15 ounces. Her skin was so thin, no one could touch her because it would hurt too much, her mom remembers.
But Mackenzie proved to be a fighter.
Her dad, Ted Tackett, said even though he fought in the Persian Golf War as a U.S. Marine, he struggled to keep his cool the night his daughter was born.
Joy Tackett, 26, didn't have an easy, first-time pregnancy. After being sick for a while, she went in for a checkup and was diagnosed as having pre-eclampsia. Her blood pressure had skyrocketed to 205 over 150, she said.
When Tackett was admitted to the hospital later that day, doctors said her kidneys had started to shut down.
Doctors maintained her condition long enough to administer two shots of steroids to help develop the baby's premature lungs in the womb, Tackett said. The couple was told doctors needed to deliver the baby two months early, before things got worse.
"They said we either take your daughter out now and we try to save them, or we keep her in there and they both die," Joy said. "At that point, I was just terrified."
Her husband, who had a boy and two girls from a previous marriage, said the hardest part was not being able to see Tackett before she went into the operating room.
"I couldn't see her before they put her to sleep," Ted Tackett, 33, said. "I was trying to maintain and not lose my cool. This was a different kind of fear. It was fear of losing a loved one."
After Mackenzie was born, Tackett only stayed on a respirator for four hours and pulled herself off of oxygen after two days. Doctors called her "super baby."
The new parents, not yet married a year, waited for Mackenzie to be released. They visited her every night, driving from their home in Gardnerville to Reno. Joy, an assistant manager at Money Tree in Carson, and Ted, who works for the state Department of Prisons in Carson, continued working until their daughter came home Sept. 5.
Joy Tackett's office paid for one night's stay at a Reno hotel to allow them to relax and visit their daughter one night, she said.
The couple paid $58 of the final hospital bill, which totaled $250,000, after insurance covered most of the costs. Mackenzie is still being treated with monthly shots costing $4,000, but the shots are also covered by insurance.
Nevada Early Intervention Services office in Carson will monitor the baby's progress for the next three years to make sure she doesn't suffer from any problems caused by being born premature. Results so far show she is developing right on track, her parents said.
Pre-eclampsia can occur during the second half of pregnancy. Doctors usually look for high blood pressure, swelling that doesn't go away and large amounts of protein in urine tests.
Contact Jill Lufrano at email@example.com or 881-1217.