Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Little Vali's NICU Grad Photo Shoot

Please enjoy Preemie Prints' families’ inspirational story & photos. 
Consider supporting our mission to share hope with families who have a baby born prematurely or critically ill. We thank our supporters, Preemie Prints volunteers, and donors for allowing us to continue touching the lives of NICU, preemie, and angel families.

We pray these special memories from Preemie Prints 
will help families heal and remember how strong 
they were in overcoming their NICU journey together.

" Starting at 11 weeks gestation, my third pregnancy went from routine to terrifying when I was diagnosed with a large subchorionic hematoma. Over the next few months I was on and off bed rest. The bleeding eventually caused my placenta to start to detach. Doctors told me I had a chronic placental abruption and I was put on strict hospital bed rest at 23 weeks pregnant. They were not optimistic about a 23 weeker's chances, but we made it to 24 weeks, 5 days before the abruption worsened and my baby had to be emergently delivered.

Our daughter, Valentina "Vali" Nadine, weighed 1 lb, 12oz and was 12 inches long.  She did very well her first week of life.  The hole in her heart (PDA) closed at birth, which rarely happens on its own for such small babies.  She did not have any bleeding in her brain, another common complication that plagues extremely premature babies.  There was even talk of removing her breathing tube.  Unfortunately, the honeymoon period quickly ended when she was diagnosed with Pulmonary Interstitial Emphysema (PIE). The force of the ventilator had blown apart Vali's fragile lung tissue and caused air to leak into places it shouldn't be.  She was immediately switched over to a special type of ventilation called High Frequency Oscillatory Ventilation.

Over the next month, Vali suffered several partially collapsed lungs and moved up to high oxygen requirements and vent settings.  Doctors were unsure if she could recover from the damage, but the nurses always remained positive.  We tried a short round of steroids, which helped initially, but then she completely backtracked.  Despite the risks, we asked for another round to be given, but it had to be delayed because Vali went into acute renal failure, likely because she was given too many diuretics.

Luckily, her kidneys recovered and a second, longer course of dexamethasone (DART protocol) was given.  She started to improve and after almost a month on the oscillator, doctors gave her another chance on the conventional ventilator.  She did well and seemed happy to no longer be vibrating.  We were finally able to hold her for the first time.  When she was 7 weeks old, they removed the breathing tube and tried her on the nasal vent, then quickly switched her to CPAP.  She spent a month on CPAP then moved to high flow nasal cannula then eventually regular nasal cannula.

We had a few months of smooth sailing, where she just needed oxygen and tube feedings to grow.  Near her due date, Vali had an unexpected NEC scare, but it was caught quickly and she recovered fully. She was diagnosed with BPD (chronic lung disease) but worked her way down to a low enough flow of oxygen to be able to come home.  Feeding issues were the only thing keeping us at the NICU, and I eventually insisted that we could manage her feeding tube at home.  After 129 days in the NICU, Vali came home weighing 7 lb, 12oz.

She is now 5 months old (1.5 months adjusted) and is still on a good amount of oxygen and also still has the nasal feeding tube.  She is doing well at home so far, but will soon have surgery to put in a long-term G tube in her stomach, since she is continuing to have difficulty eating enough.  Otherwise she is a wonderful baby who is very interested in what her two brothers are doing and she insists on sleeping through the night like an older baby would.  We are hoping she outgrows her lung and feeding issues within the next few years.  We are blessed to have her and this experience taught us not to take a single moment for granted.”

A Note From Minvi:

“This photo session was particularly special because it was at the very same hospital building (and floor) where I had our youngest daughter 12 years ago. Jessica met me at the visitors lounge and walked me in to meet baby Valentina. She has the sweetest face and biggest blue eyes. Valentina is such an adorable baby. She fuzzed in the beginning and we figured it may have been that she's tired. She definitely loved being cuddled by her mom. I enjoyed my brief time with Jessica and Ventina. So glad that she gets to go home soon to be with the rest of her loving family.”

Photos belong to our volunteer photographers, families, 
and organization please do not use for any purpose. 

Preemie Prints is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization sharing hope with NICU families through a variety of support programs. One of those programs is the gift of NICU photography and preemie photography. NICU families from across the US can request a no-charge photography session by a Preemie Prints volunteer. The family request from can be found on the right side of our website. These sessions are free of charge and for any NICU family, regardless of time spent in the NICU. The NICU photo shoot can take place inside the NICU or after baby is discharged and at home until their 1st birthday. Facing time in a NICU with a premature or critically ill baby is an extremely difficult time for families. Preemie Prints has a mission to share hope by letting families know they are not alone. Preemie Prints currently has over 100 volunteers nationwide. We are always looking for more volunteers to share in our mission! If you are interested, please email and visit our website at To date Preemie Prints and our volunteers have gifted over 400 NICU family sessions. 

This was a Preemie Prints NICU graduate photography session that took place near Plano, TX.

We're thankful to the family for sharing their story & memories in support of other NICU families.

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