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It’s been pretty quiet here on my blog (which is in desperate need of updating) and some may have noticed that I haven’t posted a lot of NICU related work on my Facebook page lately either, so I thought I would give a quick little update on how things are going!

As most of you know, my hubby and I moved out to the countryside in March of 2015, about an hour NW of where we used to live in south Overland Park here in the Kansas City metro. I went from living within 10-20 minutes of all the area NICU units and now it is an hour commute to any NICU. In 2015 I was able to keep up with requests, even through losing our own miracle baby at 10 weeks gestation and through my pregnancy with my second miracle baby. In 2016, things slowed down with the arrival of my son Charlie but still I kept up with requests as much as I could, finding volunteer babysitters, putting the baby in the car for an hour each way and squeezing in NICU sessions in between nursing sessions because my sweet little boy refused a bottle.

Eventually, I had to stop trying to find volunteer babysitters and have to pay out of my own pocket for a reliable sitter close to the main hospital I photograph at for consistency’s sake for Charlie and my schedule. As he got older and naps became less, the hour car ride each way has become harder and harder on Charlie to do in a short amount of time so I can get him back home in time for his daily nap. And the costs of the babysitting really does add up for something I do at no charge. So, with another year left out here in the countryside, I have made the very hard decision (and I hope you know it broke my heart to make this decision) to put all volunteering on hold until we move back to Johnson County next year with the exception of St NICU at Overland Park Regional in December.

We had created a 501(c)3 non-profit back in 2015 with grand plans for projects, expanding services and fundraising to help cover the costs of providing this integral service to families. Within a year all of us board members had become pregnant and one of us had lost her baby just as I had lost my first, so the non-profit definitely went on the back burner. I’ve kept it active legally and have done some minor fundraising to help towards costs (mainly my NICU Then & Now sessions I do every year), but it’s basically just a binder of paper right now with all the plans on the shelf waiting to be brought to life. My hope is that when I live back in the metro next year, and since Charlie will be a little older, that we’ll be able to get it up and going again.

I have such big hopes and dreams for all that I can do for families facing such trials in the NICU, even more so than what I’ve already done in the last 6 years. But doing it alone, and as a new mom living such a long commute away, it’s just something that will have to wait for my return to Johnson County. In the mean time I will be sharing sessions I’ve done (and I’ve done quite a few I just haven’t been sharing that much as I struggle to find time for even social media) and making plans for breathing a fresh start to my NICU work that I love so much.

Thank you all for supporting me on this journey to love all the parents, babies and staff in the NICU, and thank you for understanding why I have to take a temporary pause. I’ll be back soon. It’s a promise you can count on.

All my love,

Jess

 

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Sweet Sequoia was another 22 (+6) weeker that I had the joy of meeting last year around a week after Aubrey. At the time Sequoia was 3 weeks fresh and weighing 1 lb 7 oz. She too needed rest the day I came in and it was very dark in her room, which didn’t have any windows, so as I always do, I worked with what light I could so baby stayed comfy. When photographing babies this tiny it’s so important to just work within the environment of the room and not disturb too much if anything at all. Since her body temp was stable and she was under the warmer, we were able to pop the top so I could get some images of her without looking through the cover, always helps. I tried something new of doing a video sneak peek, which I really need to start doing again, it’s such an amazing way to really understand the smallness of Sequoia in her photos. Such a sweetheart this girl!

And here she is at 1! I still can not believe she’s one, the year just flew by. She’s happy, healthy and thriving!

Happy Birthday Sequoia! You’re such a miracle!

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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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  • June 30, 2017 - 5:48 pm

    22 Weeker Sequoia turns ONE! - […] Sequoia was another 22 (+6) weeker that I had the joy of meeting last year around a week after Aubrey. At the time Sequoia was 3 weeks fresh and weighing 1 lb 7 oz. She too needed rest the day I came […]ReplyCancel

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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