Thursday, March 29, 2012

Preemie Prints NICU Graduate Photo Shoot: Evan

Our organization with our volunteers, is so blessed to be able to give this amazing gift to so many families. Please enjoy these inspirational photos of two adorable NICU graduates!

A note from Evan's mom: 
My baby was a 25 weeker. His name is Evan and is 10 months and is 7 months corrected.. He was born march 31,2011 . He was in the NICU for 5 months. We had a long NICU Roller coaster. He came home August 13, 2011. He is at home on oxygen and gtube feedings. Hes a huge miracle and has overcome so many obstacles!

Volunteer Photographer: Glenna Walker - Dallas, TX

A note from our volunteer:
"Baby Evan's first photo shoot was amazing! When I arrived, Evan's mommy Daniela took me upstairs to meet him and there he was sitting in the middle of the floor in his room with his nurse, just a happy little boy. I was able to capture so many awesome photos of Evan - photos that his family will cherish for a lifetime. We all had so much fun during the session trying to get Evan to smile. Thank you Preemie Prints for the opportunity to meet Daniela Munoz and her son Evan. Evan is Heaven sent and a true gift from God!

And now the beautiful pictures. These pictures are property of Preemie Prints, our volunteer photographers, and our families. Please do not use for any purpose

I love this one! So sweet! Such a beautiful mom and her handsome son!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Preemie Prints NICU Graduate Photo Shoot: Camber Rose

Our organization with our volunteers, is so blessed to be able the gift of complimentary photography to so many deserving families who've had babies born prematurely or critically ill. Please enjoy these inspirational photos of two adorable NICU graduates!

Volunteer Photographer: Jenny Gamboa - Sandy, UT

A note from mom:
"Camber Rose joined us on January 28th, at 32 weeks. She weighed 4 pounds 12 1/2 ounces. She surprised everyone, and did not need oxygen. She improves every day and got off all IV fluids today! Even with her excellent health, she will have to stay in the NICU for awhile so she can learn to hold her body temperature, how to eat, and to grow some."

A note from our volunteer:
"This was such a great photo shoot! Little Camber Rose was such a little trooper. It was really nice doing the pictures right in her home. I love doing photo shoots in my studio but it was nice to try out different window lights as well as incorporate a few chairs and things I saw in the house! (I am honestly in love with this chair I used and want one of my own! I guess its an antique piano "stool," so that's pretty cool!) Little Camber Rose was 5 weeks old, but I couldn't believe how small she was! Usually I photograph newborns at about 2 weeks but she was smaller than most of them, she was just itty bitty! It was fun talking to her mother and getting to know Camber's awesome older sisters. I am so happy I was able to give this family this wonderful gift of pictures, I know they will just love them...because I know I do!"

And now the beautiful pictures. These pictures are property of Preemie Prints, our volunteer photographers, and our families. Please do not use for any purpose

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Preemie Prints NICU Graduate Photo Shoot: Eliana and Evalynn

Our organization with our volunteers, is so blessed to be able the gift of complimentary photography to so many deserving families who've had babies born prematurely or critically ill. Please enjoy these inspirational photos of two adorable NICU graduates!

Volunteer Photographer: Karen Gregory - Edna, TX

A note from our volunteer:
"Eliana and Evalynn are absolutely a blessing. We had an in-studio session Saturday afternoon. With my husband as my assistant and Mom and Dad also, we truly were blessed by the awesomeness of those two precious angels. Mom and Dad seemed so at ease and so in-love with the girls."

And now the beautiful pictures. These pictures are property of Preemie Prints, our volunteer photographers, and our families. Please do not use for any purpose

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Karen J. Olson
© 2005

All I wanted to do was hold my baby. I sat on the outside of his egg-like
incubator, looking in. Ryan was connected to a snake’s nest of wires and tubes in the
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). A ventilator sprouted from his tiny rosebud mouth
to help him breathe and tape covered half his face to keep the tubes in place. A
pharmacopoeia of drugs surged through his small body doing only God knew what. 
I stood and gazed at my two-week old baby, a child I had never held. My arms
ached with longing as I hung over his isolette, touching the small head with its bruises
and soft fuzzy hair through holes on the side of the enclosed plastic bubble. A bandage
flapped loosely on his purple, swollen heel where blood draws had been performed until
the skin was angry, bloody and distorted. Grief pushed me down. I sank slowly into
hell ... the trip there as bad as the arrival. I became familiar with “A” and “B” spells; a ghastly combination of apnea, when breathing stops and bradycardia, a slowing of the heart rate. Sometimes this brought on seizures. 

I listened carefully as nurses talked to me about Phenobarbital, Dilantin, renal
function, catheters, oxygen saturation and ventilators. I struggled to understand all of the
new terms and what they meant to my baby who already looked like a pod-person from
The Matrix with tubes and cords twisting out of his plasticene holding crate.  I signed
permission forms I didn’t understand and recorded numbers that had only vague

All I wanted to do was hold him. If I could just hold him it might help him, it
might be all right … it might be.

I glanced at the family across the aisle, where another row of isolettes sat like a
macabre hatching area. A woman cried quiet, heart-wrenching sobs into her husband’s
shoulder as they listened to the doctor discussing their infant daughter who was blind. I
thought about my baby. Would he ever see my face? Would he die before I ever held
him? Do they let parents hold their dead babies?  

The fear of my son dying without me holding him … ever … became an
obsession and I started to touch him more and more. I stroked his silky hair with the back
of my index finger, afraid I might hurt him. I touched his cheek gently when he cried or
patted his finger-sized arm to comfort him. One of the nurses told me that at this point in
his baby life he equated every touch with pain because of all the medical procedures that
had been performed. My heart cracked wide open and I swallowed hard to stem my
nausea but continued to touch him with gentle, loving caresses. I was determined that not
every touch would be equated with pain and I trusted that my baby knew the difference
between a mother’s loving caress and the pain of a medical procedure.
 I asked the nurses to let me change Ryan’s diapers, arrange his bedding and take
care of whatever needs I could. Little by little they taught me how to care for my
medically fragile baby. 

I recorded statistics on a clipboard; I watched oxygen levels and learned to deal
with lead wires that became disconnected by Ryan’s movement and sounded false alarms.
I weighed diapers to measure the amount of urine coming out of his kidneys and I wrotedown heart rates. The doctors, concerned for my health, finally ordered me back to my
room to rest. My mother pushed my wheelchair, my body still weak from the stroke I’d
suffered when I gave birth.

Exhausted, I wanted it to go away … all of it. I tried to sleep but tossed and
turned. Nightmares of someone moving my baby, hurting him, and losing him saturated
my sleep and I would awake in a cold sweat. I set my jaw as I climbed back into the
wheelchair for the ride back to my son. I returned to the NICU, unable to stay away any
longer than a couple of hours. I just wanted to hold my baby.

I learned the unspoken NICU protocol. The isolettes are fairly close together and
as such I was an unwilling witness to other families’ most intimate moments of pain. My
eyes stayed on my baby but I peeked at other infants when their parents weren’t around. I
made fleeting eye contact with other parents and we smiled tense half-smiles to
acknowledge our common state of affairs and occasionally low conversations started
between us. Sometimes I lacked the desire, or energy, to talk.

When the neonatal pediatricians attempted to take Ryan off the ventilator a wild
and terrifying roller coaster ride ensued. It was truly horrifying … waiting for that first
breath. We all held ours and waited.

The roller coaster careened up and swirled down with Ryan on board, around
bends and seemingly out-of-control, but it never left the tracks. Sometimes my fear felt
like an out of body experience.  I rode my own roller-coaster, dipping and swaying with
each turn, terrified of the possible free-fall. 

First they pulled the ventilator, but kept blowing small amounts of oxygen near
his face to ease the strain on his newly functioning lungs. The medical staff put Ryan
back on the ventilator as his A and B spells increased and he quit breathing. My own
breathing felt shallow, my skin prickled and my hair stood on end. Feverish and chilled at
the same time, my vision tunneled. 

A few days later, we re-boarded the same ride and I griped the sides of my
wheelchair, wishing for a safety harness of some type, something that would reassure me
that we were safe. Doctors and nurses clustered around the isolette in teddy-bear and
clown covered smocks, gruesome in their gaiety. I would have preferred the pastels of
gently colored Easter eggs. 

They removed the ventilator again without any blow-by oxygen, hoping that if his
lungs were forced to work on their own, they would. After a number of failed attempts
and tortuous rides Ryan was off the ventilator for good. 

After Ryan was taken off the ventilator we took the hood off his isolette, secured
the remaining wires and tubes with Velcro ™  computer ties and I finally got to hold my
baby boy. 

I leaned back in the rocker, feeling full for the first time since he’d been born. I
sat back in the padding and let out a sigh of thanks. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath,
kissed the small downy head and relaxed. Our fight had only begun, but we were in
God’s hands. Because it was the only thing we could do, we went on.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Dr. Seuss in the NICU! Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss from Preemie Prints!

We all know what an iconic figure Dr. Seuss is, but have you ever thought of the NICU in relation to him? Since it's his birthday and we are an organization devoted to NICU families, I thought it would be a good post!

I have thoughts of many parents who have sat in front of their baby's incubator reading them a Dr. Seuss book and the comfort it brings to them. The Cat in The Hat in those moments may bring a little smile or even a laugh to a mom or dad, while at the same time the rhythmic melodic words of the story coupled with mom or dads voice brings comfort to baby. Reading Dr. Seuss books will no doubt bring to light major themes that a NICU parent is facing and could even at times be therapeutic. For instance in, "Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are" we are reminded of the difficulties others face. This can bring about a feeling of not being alone and might even push a parent to reach out to other NICU parents for support.

This post wouldn't be complete without touching on "Horton Hears a Who!" You may remember us posting this inspirational image last year on our fan page:

We just updated our fan page to the new format and are also using if for our cover photo! Today you may have seen the quote circulating around lots of fan pages and personal pages in the preemie world. The reason is obvious! A person, NO MATTER HOW TINY, is a person. I personally love that quote for so many reasons. In our preemie world, NICU world, angel world, and just the world of LIFE in general this quote says it best. Do you know what book the quote came from though? "Horton Hears a Who!" is all about faith and we all know how important faith is in when a baby is considered high-risk in the womb, or born sick, or too early. 

The book tells the story of Horton the Elephant who hears a small speck of dust talking to him. It turns out the speck of dust is actually a tiny planet, home to a city called “Who-ville”, inhabited by microscopic-sized inhabitants known as Whos. The Whos ask Horton, despite the fact that he can only hear them, to protect them from harm, to which Horton happily obliges, proclaiming throughout the book that “a person’s a person, no matter how small”. In doing so he is ridiculed by the other animals in the jungle for believing in something that they are unable to see or hear.

We believe in our babies and fight for them from the moment we know they are with us--in our bellies, when they are sick, when they are considered high-risk, when they come to early, and even when they they do not make it--we know they are still with us! As parents we have the belief, the fight, and the faith that is necessary to push forward.

Secondly, you can draw a correlation between the colorful surreal worlds of Dr. Seuss and your own physical world in the NICU. The tubes, the weird clear plastic shaped nest that your baby calls home, the bright blue bili lights, the rhythmic shuffle of nurses coming in and out, the sounds of babies crying, beeps, beeps, and more beeps, monitors with green, orange, and red lights bleeping on and off, graphs and numbers traveling nonstop across the screens, pencils scratching on the paper as charts are filled out, breast pumps, tiny bottles, lots of milk, and the list could go on and on. It all seems a little surreal at times. After delivers and c-sections lots of moms are hazy, going through the movements of their new daily life, trying to learn how to be a caregiver in such a weird environment, that is so far from what the comforts of home would be, and trying to find some kind of meaning in why this is even happening to them and their tiny love! That last word though is how it all works. Love. In the words of Dr. Seuss Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”  Love makes it all okay, love gets you through, love conquers all. 

In closing here are some more quotes from Dr. Seuss you will love! Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

“I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!”

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

"How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?"

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who'll decide where to go."