Monday, November 9, 2015

Anthony'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.

“Anthony Pershing was due into our lives on November 13, 2014 but decided to meet us a little earlier. At 25 weeks, 5 days gestation he weighed 1 pound and 8 ounces, which is considered a "micro preemie".
Our journey started when at 25 weeks and 2 days I experienced some bleeding. We had already gone through two previous pregnancies and lost our baby boys due to miscarriage, so I was very scared to lose another one. Our doctor confirmed that the amniotic sac had detached, but the bag was not broken. I was immediately put on hospital bed-rest, given two steroid shots to mature the baby’s lungs and a magnesium drip to slow the oncoming contractions. Our goal was at least 2 weeks; We only lasted 3 days. The baby was coming and we went into the OR for an emergency C-section.
Anthony was born at 2:39 P.M. weighing 690 grams (1 lb, 8 oz) and 12.4 inches. His Apgar Scores were 7 and 8, which were pretty good for a micro preemie. While in the OR recovery room, I received an unexpected visit from our baby boy. I watched as the doctors and nurses wheeled in a clear box that held our son, which I would later learn is called an isolette. It was a surreal and unforgettable moment watching my little one, so tiny and fragile and knowing he was alive and ok. They even let me touch him and I could hear his little cries through the open window. My heart melted.
After being wheeled into my own room, I waited until the moment came when I would be OK'd to leave and go downstairs to get a closer look at our baby. My husband had already gone down multiple times to visit with our son and even changed a diaper! When the time came to finally go visit with him I felt an array of emotions. I felt nervous to make the trip downstairs. I asked myself why am I so reluctant to see my own son?? In turn, I also felt embarrassed, ashamed and guilty. I fought through these feelings and my husband and I rolled into the Level III NICU. As we entered the NICU, I will admit, I felt overwhelmed. All the doctors, nurses, machines beeping and alarms going on and off. We turned into our pod and my husband pointed out which isolette was ours. He was so small and tiny and looked like a little doll. I remember watching him in awe; examining every detail of him that I could, looking at all the wires coming in and out from his little body and very scared to touch him! He was born using C-PAP and after a few days was too tired so was put on an endotracheal tube for about 3 days until being back on C-PAP.
Everyday he got a little stronger and there were many steps forward and back. In the beginning it felt like an eternity until we were able to bring our baby home. Our first major setback we faced was only 6 days after birth. We noticed his stomach was extremely bloated and he was not urinating. They stopped his tube feedings and took x-rays and blood work. It was found that the TPNs and lipids being fed through the IV in his belly button were leaking into his abdomen. They pulled out a whopping 89 MLs from his belly. They ran antibiotics to protect against infections through IVs in his arms and gave him his first blood transfusion. I later learned that the transfusions would be performed often due to the many labs they have to run. Later that same night he was urinating again- a good sign. Another common thing was dealing with the A's and B's; Apnea and Bradycardia. Throughout our stay in the NICU and even until discharge, my heart would still race a little every time I heard the machines go off, even though the nurses were always reassuring.
The little things like a wet or dirty diaper, or finding out he kept all his milk down were huge accomplishments for us in the NICU. When the time came for all the lines going through his belly button were taken off we were elated! This meant we would soon be able to finally hold our baby boy. Over the time we got to know the different personnel who watched over our son, like the respiratory therapist who came to administer CPT, Chest Physical Therapy. Then, the time finally came to hold our son. Another unforgettable moment, feeling that warm little body on your chest. We kangaroo cared every moment they let us.
Then came our next major setback. At the end of September our son was not tolerating the change to his feedings. They stopped his feeding and performed a spinal tap to rule out spinal meningitis and more blood work for any infections. He was put back on an IV for nutrients. A couple days later we were noticing his arm where the IV was placed looked swollen. They said the vein was not good and switched to an IV in the scalp. On the night of September 30th we received a call that the IV leaked and they placed it in an arm. It wasn't until the next morning when the doctor called and mentioned a "burn" is when we found out how bad the leak on his scalp was. This was very hard for us. We were told the IV was not checked for about 4 hours and was being treated by the best wound doctor there. It left a pretty good size mark on his head and we were told he most likely would not grow any hair on that area. In the meantime, he was now big enough to wear little baby clothes which was a sign we would soon graduate from Level III. A couple of days later our baby was removed from C-PAP and now was using a nasal cannula. He graduated from Level III and moved into the Level II NICU. We went on to finishing his first bottle and on the 26th he came off all respiratory support. The next day, his feeding tube came out. It all was moving along so fast! On the 29th of October we were told he could come home the next day, he just needed to pass the car seat test.
On the 30th our baby failed the car set test multiple times. It was then that I remembered the neighboring baby in the pod who sounded like he had a cough was gone. The next day on Halloween he was diagnosed with RSV and was moved into isolation. He was put back on C-PAP and his feeding tube inserted in. We stayed in isolation for about 2 weeks. In that time the doctors weren't sure if he would be brought home with a feeding tube and oxygen so we were instructed to take a class that showed us how to work the machines from home. At the end of that second week we were given the OK from the doctor that he could finally come home! He had passed the car seat test and we were told that our son didn't need to come home on oxygen OR a feeding tube! We were ecstatic and prepared to take our baby home. Anthony was discharged after 103 days in the NICU, weighing 6 lbs, 13 oz and 18.5 inches in length.

Overall, there were a rollercoaster of emotions that accompanied with our stay in the NICU. Lots of steps forward and back. We were told on our follow up with his craniolacial doctor for the head wound, that he developed torticollis and in turn also was affected by plagiocephaly. We are currently going to physical therapy to correct the torticollis and he is fitted with a helmet to correct the plagiocephaly. So, it doesn't always end after being discharged. With being a preemie there still may be challenges that arise. Our son was very blessed to have minimal brain bleeds, no sign of ROP and came home without the help of a feeding tube or oxygen for being a 25 weeker. He's our little miracle rainbow baby!”

A Note From Karina:

“Anthony is just heart melting! As I read their story I was amazed at how strong this little guy is. I know he has a BIG calling on his life :) He is a fighter and makes each day count. So grateful I got to photograph his cute little smile and the love this family shares.”

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 Houston, TX.

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

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