Preemie Photo Project Proves There's Life After the NICU

Being small doesn't define these kids!

A new photo campaign seeks to take some of the fear out of giving birth to a preemie. The series of images, collected by the L'il Aussie Prems Foundation, depict healthy, happy "big" kids holding or sitting by pictures of themselves as premature babies in the NICU. In other words, the future is bright for many preemies born under less-than-ideal circumstances.

According to the Mayo Clinic, a preemie is technically any baby born before 37 weeks. But many of the kids featured in the photo campaign arrived well before that. Some weighed little more than 1 pound! Looking at the pictures of their teeny-tiny bodies hooked up to tubes in their isolettes, it's nearly impossible to believe they have grown into the vibrant kids now holding the photos of themselves. But they are here to prove being born tiny doesn't define them.

Being born prematurely is shockingly common in the U.S. According to the CDC, one in 10 babies arrived too early in 2014. And for the many parents of preemies, fear often overtakes the joy of welcoming a new baby.

If your baby is a preemie, she will likely have some difficulties in the beginning. Find out how to help your premature baby--and your family-- thrive.

I've seen this happen firsthand to a good friend of mine. Her son was born at 30 weeks, and spent the next two months in the NICU. When I went to visit them, I was shocked by how tiny and fragile he seemed. As for her; well, she was understandably emotionally shell shocked. I'm sure it was hard for her to imagine her son growing up and becoming the smart, sweet, "normal" little boy he is today.

Every time I see her son, I'm amazed as well. But it's his story and those of the children featured in this campaign that offer hope and comfort to parents just starting out on the preemie journey.

Join the preemie awareness campaign by wearing green on April 13!

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.

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