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!
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.
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!
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!
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 email@example.com 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!!
It’s almost that time of year again! Overland Park Regional’s 2015 NICU Reunion is just 10 days away on Saturday Sept 12th! It runs from 1-4pm by Medical Plaza West. I will be swinging by there to see so many of the families I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and photographing during their stays in the NICU as well as capturing some fun moments from the day. It’s always so amazing to see how big and thriving these kiddos are, PREEMIE POWER! If you are a NICU Grad from OPR and haven’t registered yet, you can still do so by emailing OPRMC.Marketing@hcahealthcare.com to sign up. Hope to see you there! And if you see me first, please come say hi! (and of course, be prepared to get a picture!)
Here’s some highlights from last year’s reunion, it was a blast!