One of the greatest gifts we’ve received are professional photographs taken in the NICU. These were taken while Bella was only 14 days old. I remember signing up so excitedly on the paper sign up sheet in the family lounge and then crying when I realized she would have her cpap (breathing help/mask thing) on. I walked back up and began crossing our names off the list. But Dustin looked at me and said “Tiffany, we want these pictures. We have nothing to be embarrassed about. This is her right now. This is her journey.” It’s true! I’m so glad we didn’t wait until she looked “ideal” to take these photos. This was us. This was her. This was our reality.
But of course I struggled when I looked down at her and the photographer walked into the room. I even asked the nurses if we could sneak the cpap off for a few photos. (So silly of me). I was still very much overwhelmed and in a lot of pain from my emergency c-section. I was also pumping like crazy, living in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, taking pain killers, taking blood pressure medication, and trying to be a mom. It was one of the hardest times of my life yet it was filled with so much peace and joy. I believe that this is reflected in these photos.
To be honest, I almost didn’t want anyone to see these. Bella looks…scary. Kind of like an animal. She doesn’t really look like the cuddly baby you imagine or see in pictures. BUT we loved her all the same and I held onto hope that she would grow and develop into a beautiful little one…and God didn’t put that hope to shame!
Looking back, I carefully curated things I shared with the world. Dustin and I always wanted the way we presented our story to be a story of hope and love. We wanted Bella to be able to look back and be proud of how we shared her journey. I believe we have been good stewards of this. Some questioned early on…including us…if we should share so transparently about our journey. I know it’s not for everyone…and not everyone is called to it…but we felt we were called by the Lord to share Isabella with everyone in a public way.
From the day years ago that God told me I’d have a daughter and to name her Isabella Melody we’ve known she would be used greatly in His Kingdom.
So, I share these photographs to inspire others and give them a HOPE. You probably are looking up viability of a 27 weeker or maybe you are in the NICU and hope your baby will look a bit different as the month go on. (They will).
Isabella was born at 27 weeks but only weighed 1 lb 7 ounces due to restricted growth. I had an emergency cesarean that I was put under for since I had severe preeclampsia and stage 2 HELLP Syndrome that threatened my life.
If you notice the shock and awe of this image…it’s because this was the very first time I held Bella cradled in my arms and without doing skin to skin! For 14 days I had only held her chest to chest and while doing kangaroo care (skin to skin).
Look at those tiny hands!
As the days passed her coloring got better, she grew, and medical devices and medications were slowly taken away. Now, she is 6 months old and doing great. She has a feeding tube due to silent aspiration but other than that she is a healthy, happy baby.
If you look closely you can see the strange white hair that covered her entire little body. This is called lanugo and went away after awhile. She was very fragile at this time to we used help getting her out of the isolette and she wasn’t moved around too much.
I’ll have to post more about this information, but she doesn’t have clothing on because she was in a controlled warm isolette and she needed to be seen by nurses/doctors. As she grew she could wear clothing…around 1 month or so.
I want to thank Simon Says Smile for this amazing gift to us. This is a volunteer program offered through Black Dog Photo Co. They came and did this photo shoot free of charge. (AND later helped us when we accidentally overrode these pictures). AMAZING people.
Lastly, we had another amazing photo shoot done by Teresa Young. She also gifted these amazing photos to us. This was a very emotional moment as I had dreamed of some “normal” looking images of my tribe. Here’s a little teaser and I’ll post the rest another time.
Curious about her birthmark on her scalp? It’s called a hemangioma. It’s a superficial birth mark. Learn more from this post.
This little princess is wise beyond her years. 6 months, about 9 1/2lbs in this image. Adjusted age is 3 months.
Love & Laughter,