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Over the course of a month in April and May, I photographed my 3rd Annual NICU Then & Now series, this year I caught up with 30 families! Most I have known from their NICU days (and a few back for their 2nd and third years!) and I met some wonderful new families as well. I really believe it’s important to have these types of photos not only to show how much the kiddos have grown, but to show other families who may be currently in the midst of their NICU journey. I always shoot these as fundraisers on donation basis to help raise money needed towards continuing to offer my sessions to families in the NICU for free. I currently live an hour away (until next year when I move back to OP) and so the costs to do these sessions without any money coming in really do add up, so thank you to all my families who help!

This year I will be re-vamping the Believe in Preemies branding and website, designing new literature to leave in the KC area NICUs, working on the first book in a series of inspirational books of NICU stories (which is a huge undertaking!), finally writing and giving the workshop on proper NICU photography for photographers, and so much more. Thank you all for supporting this very important work!

Below: Twins Brooklyn and Olivia, born at 32 Weeks

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Below: Miss Noelle (younger sister), born at 31 Weeks

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Below: Mr. Jameson, born at 32 Weeks

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Below: Mr. Joey, born at 31 Weeks

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Below: Twins Penn & Meyer, born at 29 Weeks

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Below: Brothers Robbie and Max, both born at 28 Weeks

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Below: Twins Olivia and Judah, born at 31 Weeks

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Below: Twins Addison and Elizabeth, Born at 30 Weeks

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Below: Miss Eva, born at 25 Weeks

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Below: Mr. Henry, born at 24 Weeks

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Below: Miss Briella, born at 23 Weeks

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Below: Twins Brooke and Allie, born at 28 Weeks

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Below: Twins Avery and Aspyn were born at 24 Weeks, Aspyn (held by Mom) passed at 32 days

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Below: Miss Linh, born at 33 Weeks

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Below: Miss MaKayla, born at 24 Weeks

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Below: Mr. Quinn, born at 25 Weeks

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Below: Miss Brooklyn, born at 31 Weeks

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Below: Miss Karaline, born at 23 Weeks

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Below: Mr. Cillian, born at 33 Weeks

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Below: Miss Rosie, born at 31 Weeks

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Below: Mr. Ryker, born at 32 Weeks

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Below: Mr. Owen, born at 29 Weeks

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Below: Twins Noah and Presleigh, born at 24 Weeks

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Below: Mr. Quentin, born at 25 Weeks

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Below: Cooper, along with a photo of his twin brother Parker, born at 24 Weeks

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Below: Twins Carsyn and Macyn, born at 32 Weeks

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Below: Twins Arya and Niko, born at 31 Weeks

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Below: Miss Karissa, born at 23 Weeks

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Below: Miss Bria, born at 28 Weeks

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Below: Miss Elle, born at 23 Weeks

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  • June 1, 2016 - 10:32 pm

    Mary Mueller - These are beautiful photos!ReplyCancel

  • June 2, 2016 - 2:10 am

    Cindy VanderMeer - Wow, touches my heart, we expirensed NICU for 3 weeks, Matt born at 32 weeks, but didn’t have near the risks these beautiful babies endured. Thank you for sharingReplyCancel

Earlier this month I had the joy of returning to the NICU for the first time since my own little guy was born in February and it felt so good to be able to do what I love, and that’s loving families! Layla’s mom had reached out to me when she found my info in the parent room at the NICU she’s at and asked if I would come photograph her daughter Layla, who was born at 25 Weeks + 2 days weighing 1 lb 9 oz. The day that it worked for me to go happened to also be Layla’s 1 Monthiversary and she had officially joined the two pound club. This feisty little miss may be tiny but she has got one fun little personality! It never ceases to leave me in awe of these teeny tiny fragile little humans to see their personalities shine through when they should still be baking. And those eyes… oh melt me, I could get lost in those forever. As you can see Layla was very relaxed during our time together, and she also enjoyed her adorable Auntie making funny noises at her behind me. =)

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Some itty bitty details. <3

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Before Layla was transferred to mom for some Kangaroo care, her lovely nurse did her cares and vitals and had Mom give Layla a taste of breastmilk on her lips to help get her ready down the road for when she starts feeds. And it was the sweetest thing when Layla, all 2 precious pounds of her, tried to suck on that cotton swab when she tasted the milk. Talk about amazing!

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I love showing perspective compared to parents’ hands, and Layla’s Daddy was so sweet with her.

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We got some last snaps of Layla with her 1 Month sticker and hamming it up for her Auntie (it was so precious!) before cuddle time with Momma. The second Layla was placed on Mom’s chest, she just snuggled right in and knew that it was the best place in the world to be, being lulled to sleep by Mom’s beating heart, beating strongly for her baby girl. Keep growing sweetheart, you’re doing AMAZING!!

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Beautiful identical twin sisters Penn and Meyer were born at 29 Weeks + 5 days last fall and when they were two weeks old, I had the privilege of being invited to their NICU room for their first photo session. By then Penn was weighing in 3 lbs 3 oz and Meyer 2 lbs 15 oz, both as cute as could be! This particular NICU has two babies per room, so when they have twins it works out great because the room is so spacious and no one is bumping elbows. Being that I don’t use flash, the natural light from the windows was awesome and the girls loved their hands on care with Mom & Dad and the snuggles that followed. It was such a treasure to be able to give these images not only to their parents, but to Penn & Meyer as well, to one day look back on and marvel at how little they were and how much they’ve grown. Happily the girls made it home the week before Christmas, a week before their original due date, and are doing wonderfully!

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  • April 24, 2016 - 8:38 pm

    Natalya Gonzalez - Reducing weight is not difficult if you have the correct support and knowledge , i was searching on-line and came upon this site and got to know that many had success in reducing weight, i am seeing awesome results too, here is that site, hope it will help those who really want to lose weight: fb.me/7OSAg0GQyReplyCancel

Santa visiting the NICU has become my very favorite event of the year, it’s such a joy to be able to give so many families this precious keepsake of their baby’s first Christmas. It’s hard enough having your baby in the hospital over the holidays, so anything I can do to help ease that pain I’m willing to do! My volunteers for the Santa Hats SO ROCKED again this year, providing over 400 hats to give to families. I ended up having to mail a bunch out to different units throughout the country and in total they went to 12 different units, woohoo! I can’t thank you enough!!

This was my second year teaming up with Dr. Rob Holcomb, just one of the treasured neonatologists at Overland Park Regional Medical Center’s amazing Level IIIb NICU, and his trusty elves. We went to see every baby in the unit and while many aren’t pictured, here are a bunch of my favorites (with releases signed by parents of course). It took us 3 hours to get through the unit but it was so worth it. And don’t worry, we of course followed complete infection control protocol when room hopping. =)

For other photographers reading this, I always photograph in the NICU without using any flash. I can’t re-itterate enough how important not using your flash is to protect these wee little ones’ eyes. So with that being said and all the different types of lights in the NICU, it can be a bit of a challenge with some fluorescent lights from time to time, but just keep adjusting your settings (White balance and ISO/F-stop) until you get it close enough to real life. =)

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I so treasure how excited the parents get looking forward to picture day. Many of them had their baby’s first outfits on and ready to match Santa and looked so crazy cute! Many of the families I had photographed in Halloween costumes just a couple months ago so it was nice to see many of those babies growing big and strong and close to going home. When nothing is normal in the NICU for a new parent, it’s so vitally important to be able to give them these moments and something normal to have and look forward to as they journey through their stay. I’ve never heard anyone look back at their NICU photos and say “Oh I wish we didn’t have these.” In fact, I only ever hear the opposite from parents who didn’t have NICU photos say “I so wish we did have those.” Volunteering and giving that to families is priceless.

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The mom holding her twins in the collage below, that was her FIRST TIME holding both her babies. So exciting! And the baby with the binkie? He did not want to let that thing go, so one of the nurses gave Santa a brand new binkie to match!

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I’m not sure how long this video will stay on the Kansas City Star’s website, but here is the news footage we had of the day. Thank you again to the staff at Overland Park Regional Medical Center for helping to organize this event, to Santa and his Elves for being so incredible, to the hundred-ish volunteers we had send in so many beautiful hand-made Santa hats for the families to keep, to the Kansas City Star for your beautiful coverage of our special day, and to my husband Daniel, for always being by my side, encouraging me and helping me give so much!

The Believe in Preemies Foundation is a not-for-profit organization recognized as tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3). Our mission is to advocate for prematurity awareness through the art of professional photography and provide support to parents of premature babies. Families or hospitals are never charged for services and costs associated are run on a donation basis. If you’ve been touched by or believe in our work, please consider helping us continue our mission by making a donation to our charity. Thank you!





See you next year Santa!

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  • December 29, 2015 - 7:50 pm

    Cathy Hitzemann - What a wonderful thing you do Jessica. I am Tori Colombatto sister.ReplyCancel

  • December 30, 2015 - 2:52 am

    Ali Hood-Kirar - Incredible pictures!! Your talent and giving is beyond measure! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • December 30, 2015 - 11:35 pm

    Karen Bennett Hulsey - What a wonderful treasure for these parents.ReplyCancel

  • December 31, 2015 - 1:19 am

    Shari Holmes Bonner - How exciting to see our Granddaughter. The work you do at the holidays helped our kids during the most stressful time of their lives. It was a positive event that celebrated their tiny baby girl. The gift you give family’s is priceless. Thank you for your work and thanks to Santa and all his helpers.ReplyCancel