A NICU Story | Baptist South Hospital | Jacksonville Baby Photography

 

Meet Hannah. Hannah is a tiny, incredible little person whom I am honored to have met. Sweet Hannah was born at 28 weeks and 3 days, weighing 1.9 pounds and 13.5 inches long. Her fighting spirit and strength have been an inspiration to so many people in the Jacksonville area and beyond. You see, Hannah was not only born a micro-preemie, she is a triplet, and her two sisters, Hope and Hailey, watch over her from heaven.

I first heard of Hannah's story when her mama, Jenni, started a Facebook page for friends, family, and local moms to follow her difficult journey of a triplet pregnancy. These are words from her very first post on that page:

"Hello all! This pregnancy has been a whirlwind journey so far and I feel like I've been begging for prayers far and wide for months now and I created this page so that I can continue to keep everyone updated that wants to know what's going on or how you can help support our family. A brief synopsis for now, we have 4 kids that are 9, 6, 3, and 1. This pregnancy started in October as spontaneously conceived identical triplets, which is an incredibly rare occurrence and made this pregnancy very complex and high risk from the beginning. At 16 weeks, much to our sadness, we lost two of our girls Hailey Marie and Hope Catherine to twin to twin transfusion syndrome. Our baby C triplet, Hannah Grace, continued to grow with some complications and I was on home bedrest for just over a month. At 23 weeks, Hannah's water ruptured (preterm premature rupture of membranes), and I am currently admitted to the hospital until she arrives, which we are hoping my hospital stay will be long to give our baby her best chance at life. We are thankful for all of the friends and family that have been praying for us and supporting us in various ways, and we will need continued support, love, and prayers in the coming weeks and months. We will do our best to keep everyone updated on Hannah, but we hope for everything to be stable and boring for as long as possible too. Love and prayers from all of us.  <3 thank you! #growhannahgrow

My heart went out to this strong, faithful family. As an affiliated volunteer photographer with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, I have met pregnancy and infant loss face-to-face, and yet I still couldn't wrap my mind around how hard it must have been for this family to lose two of their babies and still have a third little girl to carry and keep safe. Jenni spent 5 long weeks on hospital bedrest to keep Hannah growing as long as possible.

When Hannah was just a few days away from busting out of the NICU, I came by to gift a photo session to their family, to help them remember their 68 long days at Baptist South. It was so great to finally meet this little girl whose story I had been following for so long!

Hannah is special to me for another wonderful reason; she is the only baby other than my own Alexis, who has had my breastmilk! I had stored up a few ounces of frozen colostrum, the nutrient-rich early milk that is produced in the first few days after birth, in case my daughter needed some immunity-boosting if she got sick. But at 10 months old, she had never needed it, and I just hated to see that precious "liquid gold" go to waste. I connected with Human Milk for Human Babies and asked them to anonymously post that I had some colostrum to give away to a preemie in need. And wouldn't you know it, the mama who responded was Jenni!

I was excited for my milk to go to such a special baby! Jenni was able to mix the colostrum with her own milk and bottle feed it to Hannah. When we met up for me to give her the milk, we talked about a photo session and a few weeks later, I got to meet Hannah and the rest of her family in person.

I just love those sweet milky lips!

Hannah is showing off a special necklace that her mama wears to honor her sisters.

You can tell that a family has made the NICU their home when you see all of the special touches that they put into their little corner of it! Hannah's area was filled with notes, drawings by her big brothers and sisters, prayer cards, and rosaries.

Our visit included a first for Hannah...her first time being in a baby carrying wrap! Jenni is a Certified Babywearing Consultant and knows everything there is to know about all kinds of baby carriers. She was so excited to wrap her little girl up in a colorful, snuggly wrap. And Hannah loved it!

You can continue to follow Hannah and the Ascher's story on their Facebook page, Grow Hannah Grow, and if you feel led, you can help contribute to their family's medical expenses here.

After 68 long days, Hannah is HOME! Congratulations, Ascher family! We know you will keep Hope and Hailey in your hearts. Hannah will always be a triplet. <3

An image shared from the Grow Hannah Grow Facebook page!

UPDATE, 11/17/2017: An update from Hannah's mommy!

"Hannah is 11 lbs 7 oz and 23 inches now. She goes to occupational and physical therapy and is followed closely for her lungs but is no longer on any special therapy for them. I like to joke that she likes to pretend she's a normal baby most of the time now!"

Hannah, at 6 months old (3 months adjusted age)