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Last year I had the privilege of meeting and photographing teeny tiny wee Miss Aubrey in the hospital when she was just 2 weeks fresh. Born at just 22 weeks (and how many days I honestly don’t remember), she weighed 1 lb 2 oz and when I photographed her she was just past her birth weight at 1 lb 3 oz. Aubrey’s momma had asked me to keep the images private until she was ready to share, and as always I am so respectful of parents’ decisions when it comes to social media. Sharing photos is not why I offer these sessions, it’s merely a bonus. But now Aubrey has TURNED ONE and ahhh, guys, she’s so cute! Her family brought her out to me for her 1 Year Photos and I could not get enough of her! She played shy with me but I got a little smile out of her. She’s doing so well, happy, healthy, amazing. The best outcome a parent can hope for. I photographed her twice in the NICU, though the second session I’m keeping private as Mom was doing skin-to-skin for the photos and they’re just for her.

So first up, her first NICU session with me. If I remember correctly she was needing to be left to rest (I think she was on the oscillator but I can’t recall 100%), so we didn’t get her out of the isolette and it was very dark in the room. Since I don’t use flash, I cranked that ISO up and I actually love the dreamy film look the slight grain gives the images. I wish I could describe to you what the feeling is like to see a baby that tiny right in front of you, to see a living breathing miracle right there. It humbles me to no end that I am invited in to photograph these babies. I may go in the room another stranger to parents, but I always leave as a friend.

And now, 1 year later!

Thank you to Aubrey’s family for the JOY you’ve given me of being a part of telling her story. For one tiny girl, she’s got such an INCREDIBLE story. Much love.

BELIEVE IN PREEMIES!

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Sweet twin boys Gardner & Barrett were born at 32 weeks and I was able to capture their sweetness a few weeks into their NICU stay as they were teetering under & over the 5 lb mark. I love the twin rooms at this hospital, they are so spacious and inviting. I was having Mom & Dad each hold one of the babies when I asked their nurse if we could arrange for the boys to be together, which was the first time I believe they were together since birth, super duper sweet! They naturally held each other’s hands and just cuddled right in, I absolutely love the connection twins have, it is like nothing else. =) I processed this session a little differently than normal to give it more of a film look and absolutely love how they turned out.

Jessica Strom NICU Photographer Kansas City Jessica Strom NICU Photographer Kansas City Jessica Strom NICU Photographer Kansas City Jessica Strom NICU Photographer Kansas City Jessica Strom NICU Photographer Kansas City Jessica Strom NICU Photographer Kansas City Jessica Strom NICU Photographer Kansas City

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It started with a late evening idea. I was at my desk working and sent some of my friends in the NICU world a message about this idea I had to bring in Spring. Everyone got excited about it. My friend at the Circle of Hope NICU Foundation absolutely rocked making the eggs, and with the help of the amazing staff at Overland Park Regional Medical Center, we welcomed Spring in with Easter Eggs! I love doing events like these as ways to help the parents feel loved and supported when life is not normal for them. No two eggs were exactly the same and aside from parents getting a digital copy from me, they are also getting framed prints to put in each baby’s room. I’ve said it time and time again, photography is a healing tool. To bring some sense of normal to situations that are anything but. Seriously, these events bring me so much joy being able to love these parents and their babies. =)

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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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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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