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Fighting for their lives: Touching photographs document a day in the life of a NICU where desperate parents cling to hope

Jessica Strom knows all too well that things often don't go as planned.
As a budding photographer a few years back, she was volunteering for a nonprofit group called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, who take portraits of babies in hospice.
She loved being able to help people at such a time of need, and now she donates her time to families who have babies staying in the Kansas City Metro area's NICUs.

Photo © Jessica Strom Photography |

Labor of love: Volunteer NICU photographer focuses on tiny, most vulnerable babies

Like most parents of a premature baby, Erin Cox suddenly found herself in a whirl of doctors, machines and incubators when her daughter came into the world.

Evalee was born two months early, not long after Cox’s water broke without any warning 30 weeks into her pregnancy. When the baby was delivered via Cesarean section at a Kansas City hospital last June, she weighed just 4 pounds.

Delivering Basic Necessities and Hope to NICU Families

It’s still difficult for Robin Wahrenbrock to talk about her twins’ birthday without tearing up. The Lee’s Summit resident remembers doc tors coming into her dark hospital room when they thought the babies might arrive at 22 weeks and talking to her about statistics, trying to be comforting, but not offering much hope. When the babies did arrive via emergency C-section at 24 weeks, Robin 
remembers them being purple and fuzzy-skinned with eyes sealed shut and tubes attached all over their bodies to life-sustaining machinery.

“It was really strange—all the things you imagine for pregnancy and birth—it was frightening to see them even though you want to so badly,” Robin says.

Photographer Captures Beautiful, Loving Glimpse Into The NICU

The first time Jessica Strom photographed a baby in a hospital NICU, she was a volunteer with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, a nonprofit that takes portraits of babies in hospice. Since then, the Kansas City-based photographer has fallen in love with preemie portraits and offers NICU sessions — for free.

“These babies are so incredibly precious and inspiring, what they have to put up with would make any grown person miserable,” she told The Huffington Post in an email. “Documenting that, no matter how scary it feels in the moment, is something the parents tell me they treasure forever.”
Photo © Jessica Strom Photography |