I launched a complimentary NICU photography program, effective 10/4/2019, called Noah's Gifts. This is not affiliated with any charity and it’s not an extension of any hospital. It is in honor of my very own premature baby, Matthias Noah Lewis, my experience as a NICU mom, and my heart to give. This is the best way for me to help preemie newborns and their families get through what I've gone through. To learn more about my personal experience, please visit "About Me."
These sessions are for families with newborn babies born before 36 weeks who have spent 3 or more weeks at the NICU in Toledo. Families may also qualify if the baby was born after 36 weeks but is critically ill or approaching end of life.
1. Sessions will be coordinated with the parents only. I will check in at the hospital as a photographer and guest of the family.
Applications are reviewed each Wednesdays. You will receive an email no later than 2:00pm with information regarding appointment preferences or if I am not available due to capacity.
2. I am available on Mondays ONLY, from 10:00am-12:00pm to accommodate these sessions. Photo studios can be costly, but there is no cost for the family and their premature baby. Sessions will last for up to 20 minutes and families can expect 5-10 images delivered via online web gallery.
3. I do not bring anything into the NICU with me other than my camera. These sessions are documentary: cuddling, feeding, changing, tubes, monitors, all of it. Parents are welcome to provide a blanket, hat, or outfit, but it is not required.
4. I do not handle newborn preemie babies. I may move a hand or a foot, but that's about it.
6. Siblings are welcome to join.
Newborn baby getting a bath at hospital.
I'm hopeful that the photographs I create and gift to NICU families will help them through their difficult journey with a premature or critically ill baby. Photos may aid NICU parents who have postpartum depression (PPD) and/or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), both of which are increased after spending time in a neonatal intensive care unit. I know that feeling all to well. Portraits can also be therapeutic while encouraging bonding and breastfeeding.
When a baby is born prematurely and spends months in the NICU, it is only natural for professional portraits to be pushed to the side, oftentimes longer than we want. Many NICU parents miss out on "newborn" photos. I love that I am able to step into a vulnerable place, one I've been in before, to document all of the real life moments for a family who may need encouragement and strength. As a birth photographer, being able to give parents a sense of normalcy in an otherwise chaotic time fills me with joy. I was lucky enough to walk away from the NICU with a 4lb healthy baby boy, but it's a sad reality that some families leave without their child.
I donate complimentary sessions every month to families in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit located at Mercy St. Vincent.