This baby's smile is a reminder of how precious life can be.

By Hollee Actman Becker
October 25, 2016
Credit: Love What Matters/Facebook

Meet Freya Vinje. This smiling little girl was born at just 34 weeks in Minnesota back in November of 2014. Today, she's almost 2. But when her mom Lauren recently shared a throwback NICU shot of the happy 5-day-old baby, the Internet went crazy. Can you blame them? Look at that face!

"Our first daughter at five days old. 3 lbs. 14 oz., she was happy to be alive!" Lauren wrote in a post on the Love What Matters Facebook page. "This picture was one I looked at often to get me through the ups and downs of our NICU days. Life is so precious."

Lauren posted the picture on October 16, and it's already been liked by more than 300,000 people and shared 50,000 times. Almost 10,000 commenters have also stopped by to post pictures of their own now-thriving former preemies.

Here's my story: My own daughter was born at 32 weeks, and like Freya, she spent her first month of life in the hospital. I kept her picture in a locket that I wore around my neck until the day she finally came home. It's what kept me feeling close to her when I went home alone at the end of every night. Fourteen years later, she's grown into a happy, healthy teenager. But sometimes, as I watch her singing or dancing or just lying in bed watching Netflix with not a care in the world, it will all suddenly come rushing back. The sadness, the fear, the feeling of complete and utter helplessness.

But a picture like this? That right there is a symbol of hope for the parents of the 1 in every 10 babies born prematurely each year.

As for Freya, Lauren told ABC News that her daughter is approaching her second birthday as a healthy, thriving little girl—with the same wide-open smile on her face. "That picture at 5 days old, you can see her little personality and you look at her now, and she hasn't changed," she said. "She's still the happy little girl in that photo."

Hollee Actman Becker is a freelance writer, blogger, and a mom. Check out her website for more, and then follow her on Twitter at @holleewoodworld.


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