Thursday, March 8, 2018

Ava's NICU Grad Session

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.
Our daughter Ava decided to come just 2 days after we lost my father in law. When my water broke at home in the middle of the night my first thought was it's too early for her to come. I tried to stay positive in the way to the hospital. When I finally got into a room my contractions were 3 minutes apart. I knew she was ready to meet everyone. When it came time to push I asked the Dr if I could hold her after she was born and her response was "as long as she comes out crying. I prayed with each push I would hear a cry when she was born. 5 pushes later my beautiful baby girl was here and she came out crying and it's a moment I will never forget. I got to hold her and tell her everything will be ok. While the NICU team was assessing her I had my husband and mom make sure she was ok. Before they took her to the NICU, we were able to get our first family photo. It was 5 hours later before I got to see her again. Seeing her for the first time hooked up to machines and an IV my heart sank. I kept saying to myself why us? Why her? But she was beautiful. Everyday we spent with her in the hospital was a rollercoaster of emotions. Ava did great during her time there but I felt so much guilt with leaving her everyday. I didn't feel like her mom because someone else was taking care of her. She had lots of visitors. Then the day came, 31 days later we were able to bring our princess home. It was the best day because our family was finally complete. It was hard to say goodbye because the nurses became family to us. We still were very cautious on where we took her and who she was around. I didn't care about not getting sleep because she was home. I was able to take more time off after she came home which was good because Ava and I created a bond that no one will separate. Ava is thriving and meeting every milestone at her pace. She is the sunshine on our gray days and can put a smile on anyone's face. If I could give any advice to parents going through the nicu right now it would be stay strong. Your baby needs you and it's ok to cry and ask for help. You are still their parent and you are their voice. If you don't like something speak up. We believe my father in law sent Ava to us early so we wouldn't be sad that he was gone. This may sound odd but she has so many qualities of him. We know she is a fighter just like he was. We love our princess and when we look at her we see our little miracle.

Ava's photo session was taken and donated by Preemie Prints volunteer photographer, Jennifer Sternal-Johnson.

A Note From Jen:
Ava was born at 33 weeks, and I got to meet her and her family at 10 months old. Always an honor!

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 form 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 1000 NICU family sessions.
This was a Preemie Prints NICU graduate photography session that took place near Rochester NY.
We're thankful to the family for sharing their story & memories in support of other NICU families.