'Tough time but happy time': Photographer takes pictures of babies in NICU at Children's Mercy

Posted at 2:26 PM, Jun 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-15 17:12:08-04

The miracle of life is a moment to be remembered, and parents are given the opportunity to have traditional “first photos” taken with their newborn child while at the hospital. Often, families in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) miss that chance.

“It’s a really important thing to document their time here and their time as a newborn, wherever that time is because underneath all the wires and tubes, there’s still a beautiful baby, and that’s what the parents see and I want everyone to see, too,” said Jen Miller.

Miller is a photographer who volunteers to take pictures of babies in the NICU at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. Her oldest daughter was in NICU as a newborn with a serious birth defect called congenital diaphragmatic hernia and had a 50 to 60 percent chance to survive. Miller’s daughter is now a happy and healthy 8-year-old getting ready to enter the third grade.

“It’s fun to be back here doing something for families that are here. No one wants to be here, but what we do helps bring a little bit of normalcy, a little bit of joy into their lives while they’re here with their babies,” Miller said.

Heather Scheelk adjusted her son Jonathan’s outfit for his photoshoot. The Scheelks have been in NICU for three months.

“It’s very important to us just so we can capture the moment whether he is in the hospital or not,” Scheelk said.

The family missed the chance to have Jonathan’s pictures taken the first few times by Miller because his procedure schedule.

Johnathan’s dad Steven said, “I’m so thankful for someone to have that gift to take such beautiful pictures of something that is so special to us as a family. It’s just nice to have that memory that we’ll always be able to look back on and see what we’ve gone through.”

The couple appreciates of the “tough time but happy time” and plans to share it with their 2-year-old son and future children so they can understand Johnathan’s journey. Heather Scheelk encourages those in similar situations to cherish the moments because it's part of their lives. 

With so many families in the NICU wanting first photos, Sarah Moxie is the first new photographer to recently join Miller as they expand the team.



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