77 Emotional Photos Of Preemie Parents With Their Babies In NICU

"It was like my heart was finally whole again.”

Overwhelmed. Anxious. Joyful. Afraid. These are some of the many words parents of premature babies have used to describe their feelings in the NICU.

As Prematurity Awareness Month comes to a close, we’re honoring the preemie parents who coped with the rollercoaster of emotions and surrounded their little fighters with love and hope. We asked the HuffPost Parents Facebook community to share photos of themselves with their babies in the NICU and recall how they were feeling in that moment.

Keep scrolling to see these images and read their emotional stories.

Alana J. Martinez
"Cali-Rei was born at 29 weeks weighing 3 pounds, 2 ounces. She is 2 months old and currently still in the NICU but due to come home very soon. This picture was taken during our first time skin to skin. One of my favorite moments ever."
Kristin Aucoin
"This was the first time that I got to see him. I was very emotional and kind of out of it from the magnesium (I had preeclampsia), and I had no idea what to do. So I kissed his little baby hand and told him I love him and to please start breathing on his own. He was there for a week, and is now a healthy, happy, sometimes difficult 2-year-old."
Alicia Femat
"This was the first time I got to hold my baby girl since I had given birth, which was two days before. She's my first and was born at exactly 35 weeks. I am a type 1 diabetic and had preeclampsia that put me in the hospital for the last nine days of my pregnancy. She had problems regulating her blood sugars and had to have IVs and a feeding tube. She stayed in the NICU for 10 days. My little one is home with me and her daddy now and is the most amazing and precious child. I love her more than I thought I could love anyone."
Katie Nordquist
"My husband, Jeff Nordquist, holding our son Miles for the first time. He was under three pounds at birth and this was finally without the vent and CPAP machine. That time felt like it would go on forever, and every setback felt devastating. Sixty-five days later, just shy of Christmas, we brought him home. He is now a loving 10-year-old genius track star big brother, and we are so proud and relieved."
Courtenay Austin
"After weeks of only being able to see him inside his isolate, my daughter (3-years-old at the time) finally got to touch her baby brother's hand. I remember being so fearful of such a simple touch -- would she be too rough, would she pass on germs, how will he react to a new person -- and it turned out to be one of my best moments as a mother. I felt a change that day. A shift deep inside my soul that we would survive this ordeal and be together as a family outside the NICU walls. My son was born at 26 weeks, weighing 660 grams -- one pound, seven ounces -- and is now a fantastically busy, happy 15-month-old."
Lauren Sanders
"Payton, born at 24 weeks at one pound, three ounces. I couldn't hold my baby for a while. I could just touch her, and I remember praying and just being in awe everyday that something so small could be so strong. She will be 5 in March!"
Nicole Dunham
"This is my husband and daughter. In this moment I was looking at the two people I love most in the world. We used the mirror to look at her when we were kangarooing but she is also a spitting image of him, so the mirror is literally and figuratively such an important part of this image."
Sara Bode Cohen
"This was my first time holding my son Aaron (his arterial line was removed and he was extubated). He is my second and last child, and my second preemie. This picture was taken by a co-worker of mine (I work in the NICU as a nurse where my boys were cared for). It makes me sad to see this picture because I remember feeling like I failed, again. I know there was nothing I did to cause my boys' premature births, but my maternal hormonal mind had me feeling like I failed. I struggled with the fact that I would never have the full-term postpartum experience. I struggled leaving another baby at the hospital when I was discharged. All of this has made me an extremely empathic NICU nurse. But it hurt while I was going through it."
Nikita Brown
"My miracle! I'm filled with so much joy! 30 weeks, two pounds 11 ounces. She is a beautiful healthy 11-year-old now!
Kelly Zimmerman
"I'm smiling, but I'm in so much pain. C-section delivery of Angelique two pounds 12 ounces, followed by my open heart surgery to repair my aorta. I had an aortic dissection at 29 weeks, and neither of us were expected to make it. I was thinking, 'Did we do it, Angelique? Are we out of the woods? Are you going to be OK? Am I going to be able to breastfeed? When can we go home?'"
David Tassos
"Here's a shot I took of my wife holding our son in the NICU. I've never been around such a bonding moment my whole life. She was holding our world in her hands. It was such a beautiful experience."
Sarah Dill
"'I have never hoped harder for anything in my whole life than I am hoping right now that you will live. Please be OK. Please baby. Just be OK. Please live.' (Born at 27 weeks, now 13 months old)."
Michelle Jacob
"I think this was the second time I was allowed to hold her, some 10 days after her birth on February 22. The feeling is indescribable! Morgan was born three months early. I had pneumonia and had to have an emergency Cesarean. To add to the drama I had to be put on an ECMO machine. (Heart and lung bypass or something like that). While I fought to live, Morgan was being strong in the NICU. She was two pounds and change. With no problems. She was just eating pooping and sleeping. The doctors and nurses were amazed. I wasn't. God is good! She passed all milestone and graduated from the NICU on April 18, 2016. God bless the NICU at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin."
Lauren Acosta
"This is me with one of my twins, Jude. His identical twin, Luke got to come straight home and Jude was in the NICU nearly a month, just one day shy. Jude was moved to a different hospital than me and Luke. This picture is the first time I got to see him in the hospital, I hadn't seen him for four days. I was overwhelmed with grief but so happy to hold his little hand and talk to him and see him respond to my voice. In this moment I was terrified but chose to remain strong while I visited him, or at least try to seem that way."
Mikhayla Mattson
"This is the first time being able to hold my daughter, almost 30 hours after having her. I was induced at 36 weeks due to preeclampsia, and she has had two out of many surgeries needed since the age of 3 weeks. She is now 5 months. She has a diagnosis of micrognathia, vertical telus, oromandibular limb hypo-genesis and a poor weight gain (she was five pounds, three ounces at birth and is now eight pounds, nine ounces). She has a tracheostomy and G-tube feeding tube in her belly. We were told she wouldn't make it through the pregnancy, but she's now a 5-month-old miracle. BUT what was I thinking? I was thinking why is my innocent baby girl going through all this pain. She's too young to live in pain. I feared for her. I looked at her hands and how there was little to no bone or fingers and just kissed them. I looked at all of the tubes and machines and just prayed to thank God that she is here, and despite all of the pain she would have to go through to be alive, she was alive, she is alive. And that's all that mattered to me at that very moment."
Valerie Gonzales Stokes
"This is the first time I held both of my twin daughters together. They were born three months early at 25 weeks gestation and due to a number of complications had to remain separated during their entire NICU stay -- which meant I was only allowed to hold one of my daughters at a time during our entire three-month-long NICU stay. This moment was pure and utter joy. But it was more than that. It was relief, love, longing and heartbreak wrapped all into one small snippet in time. It was a normalcy I has ached for for far too long. A moment no mother should ever have to wait that long to experience. I waited for this moment, longed for this moment, for three long months, and when I was finally able to hold them together, it was like my heart was finally whole again."
Sarah Hager
"This was the first time I saw my son born at 33 weeks and one day and I remember feeling so much love, worry and hope all at the same time! Our stint in the NICU was very difficult, full of long days and even longer nights away but my 16-month-old son is beautiful, healthy and happy!"
BriAnna Poe
"This is one of my favorite pictures! My son Hudson was born at 23 weeks weighing one pound. He had one of the worst infections a week after he was born. Because of how serious the infection was he was not able to come off the ventilator for a while. This picture is 24 hours after coming of the ventilator -- I finally got to hold him at a month old. It was the most amazing feeling ever! They told us the odds were against us, but my son is a miracle. He came home after 111 days in the NICU, one week before his due date and continues to thrive."
Kylee Wilson Freimuth
"The first time I was able to really hold my little guy, born eight weeks early. I was telling him how much I loved him and how sorry I was that I couldn't protect him. So many overwhelming emotions, impossible to put into words. He's now a healthy 10-month-old."
Marty Greer Robinson
"I was a single and first-time mother who had a textbook perfect pregnancy until the 34th week. Out of nowhere, I started bleeding. My OB tried to stop labor but ultimately wasn't able to, and my daughter was born at four and a half pounds and 17 inches (she was my itty bitty string bean!). She had no sucking reflex and could not regulate her own body temperature, so we spent 22 days in the NICU. Because she was unable to regulate her own temp, I was only allowed to hold her for small periods of time because she couldn't be outside of her incubator for very long. Every moment I was able to hold her was so precious and emotional for me. I just wanted to be like all of the other moms I knew who had a baby and came home with him or her a couple of days later and could hold that baby whenever they wanted for however long they wanted. I spent all of that time doing as much skin-to-skin as I could to bond with my baby girl. I would rock her and sing to her while I held her. Sometimes I would just close my eyes and savor the feel of her in my arms (like in this photo). It's 8 years later, and she is 100 percent happy and healthy. And she still wants her mama to hold her and sing to her."
Kelly Keister
"Fear, love and hope."
Simone Praylow
"At this moment, all I felt was sheer joy."
JoLynn Sieburg Baumer
"This is my third baby and my youngest, Tori. She was born 12 weeks early and weighed just two pounds. This was the first time I got to hold her, she was 5 days old. That was a long wait. She spent two and a half months in the NICU. She completed our family of 5. So thankful! She changed my life. She's now a happy, healthy 9-year-old!!"
Sara Scapanski-Schindele
"This is what uncertainty, fear, hope and elation looks like. I was afraid I would tear his skin. The alarms were always going off. I was looking at the nurses for reassurance. Twelve weeks early ... every moment was focused on being positive, but reassurance was always a gift. Especially, when very few knew what we were going though. After 69 days, Victor graduated from the NICU."
Ashley Marie McCarthy
"This was Christmas Day and my daughter who was born at 23 weeks was 5 days old. All I wanted to so was hold her. She was so tiny and frail, and I was completely terrified. But I was so thankful to hold her and not just reach through a hole in the isolate. For that hour while I was holding her, every ounce of fear I had melted away and I was just thankful. At that moment, I knew everything would be ok. She'll be 2 next month."
Paige Parsons
"My trio was born at 27 weeks. This was half way through our NICU stay, and I remember being told that one might be heading home soon. They were up to four or five pounds, not eating the greatest, and still setting off alarms. I thought we'd never leave. That photo constantly reminds me of how far we've come. We spend four months in the NICU surrounded by an amazing team of nurses, doctors, and respiratory therapists. Now, my boys are 4.5 years old, weigh 40+ pounds, and are healthy kids. We are so blessed!"
Julie Borbon-Marcelin
"This is my daughter Patty. She was 7 weeks early. Here she is holding on to her daddy's finger while laying inside the incubator. These were roller coaster days, and I remember feeling so scared and sad some days. I remember praying hard for her to be OK and come home soon. But I also remember being so in love with my preemie munchkin."
Nohemi Ruelas
"She was six weeks early and you can see all the vessels that ruptured in my face while I pushed. I was so tired and worried, but mostly I was blissful and in love."
Kamaljit Bath
Michelle Dickinson
"This is my husband and I holding our son Elliot who was born at 32 weeks. I can't exactly say what I was thinking because I honestly don't remember, there was so much going on. All was worried about was if he was going to be ok. Tomorrow he will be 18 months old and he is a vibrant, curious, very active little boy who is our whole world."
Jeni Baker
"Only one of my twins needed special care, and much to my shame now, I wouldn't let myself bond with him because I was too scared he wouldn't survive. He was only in NICU for two weeks, but it took a while for me to feel the same about him as I did about his brother. I hate myself for it now and can't believe I ever felt any different over my two perfect little boys."
Bridie Dillon
"This is Audrey. In this moment I was thinking what incredible parents we would make to our twins someday and also why I couldn't cuddle her, and why my head hurt and what drugs had they given me? Where is my other baby? What're those tubes for? What am I signing? Why aren't they together? Too much thinking was happening. My identical twins girls were born on the June 11, 2015 at 24 weeks and six days gestation. Our beautiful angel Alice the firstborn twin was too good for this world and left us within the day. I wish you could tell how difficult this is to say. But our fighter, our beautiful second twin Audrey turned 1 a week ago. Audrey was in hospital for 101 days, and home oxygen for eight months. I think it's important to raise awareness because I felt like I was going crazy everyday in a daze of medical jargon and pain. I didn't know what I was saying half the time. I had no sleep and was on every prescription Cesarean and anti depression/anxiety drug under the sun. Preemie parents are all incredible because, damn it is hard."
Cindy Mata Gross
"This was me holding my preemie identical twins for the first time, 24 hours post birth. Thirty-four weeks and coming in at 3.9 and 4.1 pounds. I was terrified to hold them! I had never held babies so tiny with so many wires attached to them! Little did I know, These two were the strongest little ladies I had ever met despite my Baby A being diagnosed with IUGR at 17 weeks in utero. I cannot thank CHOP and the NICU team at Mount Sinai enough for the incredible care during my pregnancy and after they were born. Today, my girls are happy and healthy 2-year-olds!"
April King
"What was I thinking? Well we have a story, boy do we! Four years ago my husband was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer stage 4 (terminal). It has been very life changing! We were told we would need to freeze my husbands sperm if we ever wanted to have kids. Due to his chemo treatments, it was unlikely that we'd ever get pregnant. To make matters worse, I had been diagnosed with PCOS and was told it would be hard and possibly impossible for me to get pregnant. Well we were surprised when we found out I was pregnant, Caleb is our little miracle. I was due May 2, 2016 but was induced March 31. I had to have an emergency C-section. That was decided on April 2, 2016 after being in labor for 48 hours and not dilating enough. Caleb had to be on oxygen and was kept in NICU for three weeks. We traveled from Austin to Temple daily, to see Caleb. That drive was so hard and tiring! This picture is of me holding Caleb two weeks after he was born. I didn't get to hold him or have skin to skin time with him till 14 days after he was born. That was the hardest thing I have had to face. I cried daily and was so depressed. In this picture I was thinking how amazing it felt to hold my son and to finally feel like a mommy! I had my world in my arms!"
MaryBeth Diefert
"Emma Reese born at 26 weeks. She is two weeks old in this picture. I was scared to death to hold her. I was afraid she would break. She fit in my hands literally. I had never heard of premature babies before I had one. I never knew it was possible to be so early and survive. I willed her to live every second. Still do. She was one pound 13.5 ounces and 13.5 inches long. She spent 102 days in the NICU. She is now a spunky 3-year-old. Even after three years you still have all the feelings you had when you were in the NICU. That never goes away. Each day is a gift when you have a preemie."
Kati Cooper
"My 32 week twin boys reunited for the first time since birth at nine days old. The month they spent in the NICU was filled with so much love, happiness, worry and guilt. More pictures in comments. I had to wait two days to meet them because I had preeclampsia and had a hard time getting it under control after my C-section. Seeing how frail and small they were I just broke down."
Brittany Lee
"Not even supposed to be out in the world yet, and already the strongest girl I know. (Born at 30 weeks and currently 3.5 years old and continuing to thrive)."
Dena 'Abrams' Rosenberg
"I had been in the hospital for five days straight, only seeing my husband and two other children for very, very brief spurts of time. I had finally gone home, showered and gotten dressed like a person. Then I came back to the hospital after this two hour 'break', the NICU nurses handed me my baby and I just melted. What I would have done to help my baby breathe, help her eat, help her be healthy. This picture just captures that moment of us making a deal -- 'Baby girl I will move mountains for you, I just need you to get a little stronger and work a little harder.' And wow did she step up to the challenge! That little four-pound peanut is now a beautiful, brilliant, spunky 3-year-old. She is the strongest and happiest child. Having a preemie changed mine and my husbands life forever, and now I can't imagine it any other way!"
Angel Phillips Holstein
"My triplets were born at 34 weeks, five days and spent 16 days in the NICU. We only have one picture with them all together while there. My husband was terrified to hold them, and this was the first time he did. The nurses kept piling babies on him and as you can see he is scared to death."
Grace Bolunia
"Most parents would say the happiest day of their lives is the day their child is born. I don't remember feeling happy on the day I delivered my son. I remember feeling scared, apprehensive, angry, exhausted. This photo was taken during the very first time I finally got to hold him and cuddle with him for an hour. He became so calm, and his breathing was so much easier when I held him that the nurses said I could keep cuddling him for as long as I could. This was the happiest day of my life. Aidan was born at 26 weeks and weighed only 650 grams. He stayed in the NICU for four months and came home on oxygen for another four months. He had a rough year after NICU but he is a fighter and the nurses said he is a feisty one, and now he is 2 years old and healthy."
Laura Powers
"This was nearly six weeks after our boys were born and we were finally able to have them close to each other. They were separated in NICU for their two-month stay, and any chance we had to get them together was beautiful. I was thinking that this was the very best Valentine's Day weekend in my life. I spent it in NICU with the three guys who are most important to me -- my sons and amazing husband."
Georgeanna Banks
"This is my husband and our daughter who was born at 27 weeks, two pounds, two ounces. I had been in the hospital on complete bed rest since 24 weeks. The hospital was about an hour by highway from our house, but close to my husband's office. After working as much/little as he could each day, he would meet me at the hospital where we would spend time with our daughter. I love how this picture shows the exhaustion, worry, fear, and hope on my husband's face. We had barely been able to hold her at this point, still no idea if she would live and if she did live, what sort of issues she might have going forward. She was hooked to so many lines, and you just wanted to cuddle her. But the overriding fear was that she might stop breathing if you held her the wrong way, or that her oxygen level would drop, or she'd be too cold ... it was hard to enjoy the moment, as brief as it was. Those were the many thoughts, along with ... what future will she have ... stay positive and let's make it through another day, another day. She spent 59 days in the NICU. This was over 11 years ago, and today she is perfectly healthy."
Jessica Hoepf Costa
"This was the first time I held Jake after he came off the ventilator and the first time I felt like I was holding my baby. Just me and him and I could relax, no team to help get him in the right spot, no tape to hold his tube in place or fear of pulling it out. It was a happy moment. Born at 24 weeks and one day, he was vented for six weeks, NICU for 115 days. He has survived three surgeries and at 33 months will have one more after Thanksgiving. My hero."
Katie Bennett
"This photo was taken about 36 hours after my now-33-week-old son was born. It was the first time I was able to see him as I bled out after my C-section due to pre-eclampsia complications. I remember being shocked at how light he was (four pounds, six ounces) and how absolutely beautiful and perfect every inch of his tiny face was."
Kyra Gilmore Kruger
"Thinking how much heavier she felt in my hands than I thought she would. Born at 25 weeks, weighing one pound, one ounce. She's now 34 weeks and still in the NICU."
Melissa Silvey
"This is the first time I got to hold my son. I was thinking about what a miracle he is and how grateful I am to be his mom."
Stephanie Turner
"The hardest part was having a baby (toddler) at home and one in the NICU and feeling like I was failing them both because I couldn't be in two places at once."
Nolene Avery
"Please can we go home soon, please can you keep growing stronger, and oh my God I'm holding my baby! Born at 31 weeks weighing two pounds, nine ounces and now is 6 years old."
Robin Mitchell
"We had gotten married three days before he was born. Our son wasn't supposed to arrive until mid September and came eight weeks early in July. Not many men become a husband, a step father and a first-time Dad within 72 hours. This is our first true family photo when my daughter was allowed in the NICU for the first time. My mom says she's never seen me look so happy in a photo. Despite the circumstances, she is right. He stayed a total of five weeks in the NICU, and now he is perfect! This July we had a joint first birthday/first anniversary party."
Alana Huff
"Ben was born at 34 weeks. This picture was taken after three weeks in the NICU. I was so scared he wouldn't know I was his mom. The NICU had me to stay overnight with Ben to help us bond. My little man spent 38 days in the NICU. Ten months now, and he's doing great and definitely knows who I am. (I also could have hit anyone who said my son was going to be 'fine' and they were sure he was coming home 'soon')."
Rebecca Savoth Pastore
"'I am so happy you're here... way too early... but HERE.' Kai Mason born at 33 weeks, four pounds, nine ounces on 10/13/10 -- now 6 years young and 50 pounds strong."
Jill James
"My husbands first time seeing our 34 weeker. We were both terrified and not sure what our future would hold. Our daughter is now 20 months old and thriving as a rambunctious toddler."
Amanda Nally
"The first time we saw our two-pound, 12-ounce daughter open her eyes. Almost a week after her birth. Joyful to see progress and signs of life. (She's 4.5 years old now and absolutely perfect)."
Jessica Marie
"The first time we held our son was one week after he was born because the doctors needed to make sure he didn't have any brain bleeds first. He was born this July at 28 weeks, one pound, 12 ounces."
Amanda Oram
"While holds were incredible and special (I didn't get to hold my son until he was a month old), what felt 'normal' to me was giving him hand cuddles in his isolette or crib, which I did for hours and hours (and hours!) each day when I couldn't hold him. Most of my time there was spent willing him to just keep breathing. In this picture he's 1.5 months old (he was born at 26 weeks and one day due to preeclampsia)."
Donna Jean Benavides
"My son was born at 24 weeks, weighing one pound, nine ounces, so prior to this moment, we faced many difficult and heart wrenching times. This picture was taken the day before we were discharged after being in the NICU for 108 days. My only thoughts were, 'You did it buddy, you finally get to come home!'"
Erin Nelson Rogers
"'Holy crap, how am I ever going to get both into my arms by myself at home?' I was in total shock when the nurse said that morning 'want to hold them both?' ... I didn't even have time to think, and honestly would have said no. I was still so scared, even as in love as I was, of these tiny babies. Born at 31 weeks, 30 day NICU stay, haven't missed a beat since. So grateful!"
Allison Johnson
"This is me holding one of my twins for the first time the day after they were born. They were whisked off to the NICU seconds after birth, before I even had a chance to touch them. The emptiness I felt that day is impossible to describe."
Tara Smith
"The first time I met my little monkey after my emergency C-section. I was overwhelmed with so much love for my precious little girl. She weighed 1960 grams at 35 weeks and she is now 7.5 months and well over 16 pounds!! Mackenzie-Raye is my ray of light."
Jennifer Lynn
"This is me and our son Jack. He was born at 32 weeks while we were at a wedding in Mexico. He was a strong four pounds, four ounces when born. At the time this picture was taken all I could think about was how much this little guy had been through at just two weeks old! He is now a healthy, strong, amazing 8-year-old."
Sarah Fairbanks
"Our Madisyn was born nine weeks early. All I could think at this moment was 'thank God she's healthy and doing so well.' This was us the day after she was born, one week after our wedding and five days after we received full custody of my oldest daughter. It was a busy week!"
Ryan Arpin
"My boys were born at 31 weeks, five days. My water broke with baby A and doctors told me I was going to stay in the hospital for another four to five weeks. Well, he had other plans. Baby A came out screaming and ready to face the world at two pounds 15 ounces. his brother, baby B, wasn't so sure and was born five hours later at four pounds, 10 ounces. This was the first time I got to hold them both together, a few days old. They both seemed to relax when they were together, and I was just so happy they were doing well. Our month in the NICU was not how I dreamed we would start our adventure as a family of four, but I had the best nurses and doctors who helped my husband and I cope and get through this. My boys are now 16 months old, adjusted and doing great."
Lisa Rivers
"I just kept thinking, 'This is all my fault. My body failed you, little girl. I'm so, so sorry. I'll make it up to you by loving you more then anyone could ever love another human. To the moon and back.'"
Anya Brown
"I had an emergency C-section that saved my life and my son's. I didn't meet him for 12 hours. It was the longest 12 hours of my life. I was so scared I had lost the opportunity to nurse my last babe. This picture of my sister and I captured the first time I was able to nurse in NICU successfully, and at that moment the bond between my son and I was finally solidified in my heart."
Humphrey Britt
"Hunter was born at 32 weeks. He was rushed to the NICU, and I was rushed into emergency surgery following a hemorrhage due to early delivery. This is the first time I saw and touched my son. I don't know if I could put into words what exactly I was thinking or feeling at this moment. I was so overwhelmed with happiness, love, and fear, but he was definitely worth it."
Lauren Sebald Noll
"This was the first time I got to hold our daughter. I remember marveling at how tiny yet perfect she was! She was born at 34 weeks with intrauterine growth restriction, weighing three pounds, 14 ounces. We knew she'd likely be coming early, so we had steroid shots to mature her lungs. She spent three weeks in the NICU learning how to regulate her body temperature and eat."
Amy Crelin
"Our first family picture. One of our NICU nurses encouraged us to take this picture because she said countless times parents go home and realize they never took their first family picture till the baby went home finally. The nurse wrapped him up to cover all of his wires, lack of clothing and monitors all over for the photo. I treasure this so much. He is now a thriving and active 4-year-old!"
Amanda Migneault
"This is the first time I was allowed to hold my babies together... they were 11 days old. The nurses broke the rules to make this picture happen. Our NICU does not allow twins to be kept together. They were born a full nine weeks early due to preeclampsia, early labour and my daughters' umbilical cord was compromised. Those early days are very hazy to me, but I remember that as soon as the babies touched one another they cuddled together. It was beautiful and heartbreaking. I recall looking up at the nurses and my mom (we were all crying) and saying 'we're all together again.'"
Krystal Hyder
"My Kira at 36 weeks five pounds, two ounces. She was born with a blood infection, respiratory issues, and couldn't keep her body heat. She had been transported to the NICU across town and I was not supposed to leave the hospital for the first two days. But my doctor was so understanding. He allowed me to leave four hours after she had been transported as long as I promised to come back in two hours. This was me holding her during those two hours. I was terrified for my baby girl I was worried about my husband at the time who had just put boots down in Kuwait and didn't even know his daughter had been born or was very sick. She is now a happy healthy 8-year-old."
Sara Lindy
"The first time holding my 29-weeker. It was truly one of the most heavenly, amazing moments of my life. His breathing stabilized and he immediately was calm."
Delany Mae Wanken-Essing
"I wanted to share this photo of my husband. This was day 14 of 15 in the NICU. This was the first time my husband held his son without him being attached to all of his tubes, wires, and IVs and be able to walk around our mothers suite. As you can see, they are all still attached but not connected to the machines. It was such a beautiful moment I am so happy I captured. I feel like this is the moment it kicked in that our son was going to be okay and we were going to get to go home. Little did we know, that the very next night would be our first night at our home! Our son was born at 35 weeks and is now a happy very healthy 9.5-month-old!"
Andrea Elizabeth
"I was thinking how lucky I was to be holding a miracle. Everything going on around me stopped. In that moment I felt nothing but love and admiration for a human that I gave birth to hours earlier. In that time he had already fought more than most do in a lifetime. How amazingly, inspiring and incredible is that? I was caught up in the most beautiful definition of love. All the machines were muted. Voices trailed. It was me and my son. The perfect moment to feel every emotion in the world and only be able to clearly identify one. Love."
Kelly Hildreth
"I was admitted to the hospital at 33 weeks, six days and given magnesium to prevent seizures, so they could give me steroid shots for their lungs. I wasn't able to see them for over 12 hours after my C-section due to medications I was on for HELLP syndrome, and I spent that whole time feeling guilty that my body failed them, and I wasn't able to keep them in utero longer. While we were very fortunate I was able to keep them in that long, it still was not making me feel better. At that moment in the NICU holding both of my healthy babies in my arms I was so overwhelmed with appreciation for the doctors and especially the NICU nurses who go to work every day and reassure parents like me that we do the best we can and treat each and every baby like their own when their parents can't be there. We still stay in contact with the twins primary RN from the NICU. It truly is a life changing experience, whether you're there for a few days, a few weeks, or even months. It's amazing how quickly the staff becomes a part of your family."
Sarah Smith
"This was the first time his daddy and I got to hold him since he was placed on my chest after birth. I was so thankful he was healthy and advancing everyday in the NICU. He was born just a little too early (born at 35 weeks) and needed to learn how to eat! I was so relieved to be surrounded by the best NICU nurses & neonatologists ever. They were so supportive and encouraging. We finally got to take our sweet boy home after 20 days in the NICU."
Sarah Faust
"Agnes was a week old here, having been born at 32 weeks. NICU is a rollercoaster ride in a twilight world. I went to pieces. I was in love with my daughter but felt such fear, anxiety and guilt that the only place I felt calm was actually holding her. She was in NICU for six weeks. After three of those when we thought we were on the road to gaining weight and going home, we were told that she has cystic fibrosis. Our worlds fell apart again and I was diagnosed with shock and PND. My parter was and is amazing. Agnes is now 5, at school and challenging the world as a bright, compassionate, lively, beautiful and fierce little girl."
Kara Kireyczyk
"Born at 33 weeks. I remember feeling both elated and confused. Why he came so early and how do I parent? We are first time parents but knew nothing of being a NICU parent. All I wanted to do was show him we loved him and were there for him, even if it was through a small skin to skin session or holding his hand through the isolate."
Anna May Hofmarks
"My 30-weeker weighing three pounds and six ounces. We spent over 100 days in the NICU. You just have to take it day by day and be prepared for set backs. But know one day that your little baby will be home and life will go on."

Before You Go

Preemies Then And Now

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