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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. =)


Some itty bitty details. <3


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!


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


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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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. =)


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!


If you have followed my work for a while, you may remember the resounding success we had last year with our Photos with St. NICU events at two of our local hospitals, Overland Park Regional Medical Center and Shawnee Mission Medical Center. I am organizing the same events this year so that while babies in the NICU can’t go see Santa for their first Christmas photo with Santa, we can bring Santa to them! This FREE event for families is truly special and an amazing keepsake of their first Christmas. Over 150 hats red hats with white trim were lovingly made by volunteers last year and donated for the babies in the NICU units, varying from teeny sizes to full term sizes so every baby could match Santa and have that physical keepsake of their first Christmas along with their photo. The extra hats we had left over were donated to other units in the city even though Santa wasn’t able to go to every NICU, so that every hat found a home!


If you knit or crochet and are looking for a way to give back to the community this year, I have the perfect project for you! We are in need of approx 150 hats in various sizes to fit preemies weighing 1 pound and up for the babies to wear in their first photos with Santa. The hats make such a huge impact for families and will be treasured forever! So the babies match Santa, I am asking for them all to be the same as the photo above, red hat with white trim (the white trim doesn’t have to be fluffy like the photo, it can be plain yarn).

If you’re able to participate, whether it’s sending in one hat, two hats, 10 hats, 20 hats, anything helps! I have a pattern I can send you, though its newborn size, but I’ll provide measurements for smaller head circumferences for our tiniest of blessings. Hats are needed by December 7th!

Please email me at for more information, receiving the pattern and our PO box to mail the hats to.

We couldn’t do this without you!! THANK YOU!!

Here’s a collage from last year, our volunteers are amazing!!


  • October 22, 2015 - 5:38 am

    Nancy Mellette Stewart - My husband is a real bearded Santa that would do this.
    You can see his work on Facebook he is SantaTerryStewartReplyCancel

  • October 22, 2015 - 3:54 pm

    Lisa Moulden Johnson - Please send pattern

  • October 22, 2015 - 4:48 pm

    Tamara Fitterling-Dreyer - Please send pattern and info marastar1578@yahoo.comReplyCancel

  • October 22, 2015 - 4:48 pm

    Edie Workman - Please, send patterns to me @ EdieReplyCancel

  • October 22, 2015 - 4:53 pm

    Ann Lewis Baysdon - Please send pattern and information. to annbaysdon Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • October 22, 2015 - 5:59 pm

    June F. Pfeiffer-Lohe - Please send pattern to I would really enjoy doing thisReplyCancel

  • October 22, 2015 - 6:14 pm

    Carol Fiorella - I would love to help.Please send instructions scselb@sbcglobal.netReplyCancel

  • October 22, 2015 - 7:48 pm

    Karla Acosta Stucker - Do you still need volunteers? My sister said she would love to helpReplyCancel

  • October 22, 2015 - 7:49 pm

    Tracey Kay Adkins - I would love to get more information. Send pattern to Plz send address to mail hats to.ReplyCancel

  • October 22, 2015 - 10:46 pm

    Ashley Day - Love to try and help, can you send pattern to ashleyday15@yahoo.comReplyCancel

  • October 22, 2015 - 11:06 pm

    Samantha Manning - Please send knit pattern to sb.manning011@gmail.comReplyCancel

  • October 23, 2015 - 1:01 pm

    Suzanne Wilson Jefferis - I would love to make some hats for you, Would you please send me the patterns? Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • October 23, 2015 - 5:23 pm

    Kacy Hester Jarma - please send pattern.. i will try to get a few made…. i LOVE these projects!!!ReplyCancel

  • October 31, 2015 - 1:33 pm

    Leann Briody - I would also live to help. Please send me information. .thank you LeannReplyCancel

  • November 4, 2015 - 2:39 pm

    Knit Little Red Hats for Preemies – Knitting - […] Santa. (Just thinking about this makes me cry a little, so if you’re a sap like me do not watch the video. You’ve been […]ReplyCancel

  • November 4, 2015 - 7:10 pm

    Caroline Seckel - Could you please send me the pattern at

  • November 5, 2015 - 5:54 pm

    Julia Lensi - My grandson born at 1.7 lbs…, issues galore… but now he’s a whopping 8 years old. Amen
    I would love to help… please email me at God Bless U.ReplyCancel

  • November 11, 2015 - 6:33 pm

    Kelsey Reed - How many hats do you have so far?ReplyCancel

  • November 14, 2015 - 1:00 pm

    Katherine Lopez - Please send us the link to the pattern. In am in Hong kong and would like to contribute as well.ReplyCancel