Faces of Prematurity

I have recently been working on an exciting photography project taking pictures of children who were born prematurely holding baby photos from their time in hospital.

In case you’re not aware, in addition to my photography business, I also run a support website for parents of premature babies (miraclebabies.uk) which I started when my twin boys were born suddenly at just 23 weeks gestation and we spent 114 days visiting the Oliver Fisher Neonatal Unit. My son, Henry, is now a thriving, healthy four year old but unfortunately his twin brother, Archie, passed away the day after he was born. (Our full story can be found here.)

This photography project has followed on from discussions with staff at the Oliver Fisher Neonatal Unit who were looking for inspirational photos to display along the corridor on the unit. One thing that helped us get through this difficult time was reading the patient stories on the walls of the unit. I believe seeing this array of before and after pictures will give hope to other parents in a similar position. It is also hoped that the pictures will help to raise awareness of prematurity and the amazing work carried out by neonatal units and charities.

Ranging from gestations of just 23 weeks, the stories of the amazing miracle babies I’ve had the pleasure to meet are truly inspiring. The mother of one of the babies now works as a neonatal nurse on the unit that treated her son! I’ve met children who had holes on their lungs needing a chest drain at just a few days old and babies who experienced an array of different hospitals before they should even have been born. Amongst them were a number needing surgery for various conditions, including NEC which causes the tissues in the intestine to die, ROP which is when blood vessels in the eye grow abnormally and require corrective laser surgery and PDA ligation to fix holes in hearts.

I met a Christmas baby whose mum had become very poorly with pre-eclampsia; he had to be delivered early to save his mum’s life when her liver and kidneys started to fail on Christmas Day. Two lovely twin boys I met had suffered from severe reflux as babies causing scarring on their esophagus’s which left them both needing to be tube fed until the age of four.

A fellow 23-weeker mum shared her daughter’s story of perforated bowels and being fitted with a stoma, she suffered through liver failure and a longline snapping in her leg, before contracting sepsis. At one point her parents were called in the early hours of the morning as doctors thought she may not survive.

Most of the babies have had issues with breathing at some stage and gaining weight with many also battling infections. Some, like Henry, graduated hospital while still requiring home oxygen.

All the stories shared with me are so inspiring and moving that I cannot truly do them justice by summarising them here. Instead I am planning to compile the photos alongside the individual stories into a book that can be read by parents while their babies are in hospital and hopefully inspire them like we were inspired by the stories we read. I’ll add a new post to share the book once it’s completed. Here are the individual photos of all the little superheroes I’ve met on this journey, if you see a purple butterfly on the picture frame it indicates that they are a surviving twin:

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