NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) –  Vanessa Malillo spent two and a half months in the neonatal intensive care unit.

“She was exactly 1 pound, 8 ounces. Very, very scary,” her mother Anna told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.

Vanessa’s mother wasn’t sure she would survive. The Queens woman began a journal that she showed her daughter when she was 13.

“It’s from day one to day 81 and she’s an avid reader, she read it and she was like ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe it,’” Anna said.

“It just put me in awe about nurses and NICU and saving babies,” Vanessa said.

Now, Vanessa is 21 and about to graduate nursing school. She plans to return to the NICU.

“They’re definitely angels on earth. They have such great compassion and they show that compassion to the babies and it really inspires me,” Vanessa said.

The March of Dimes’ March for Babies is Sunday.  WCBS 880 is once again a proud sponsor of the annual event to raise money to help prevent premature birth.