We have had a heck of a couple of years, my family and I! Between serious illnesses, loss of loved ones and seemingly one disaster after another it would have been easy for me to put my head in my hands and cry. However, this year I started volunteering for an organization called The Tiny Footprints Project, and it has made me realize that, in spite of everything we have gone through in the last couple of years, we are truly fortunate.
The Tiny Footprints Project is a group of over two hundred (and growing) photographers, throughout the United States and Canada, who volunteer to take free newborn photos for families with babies in the NICU. Most of these infants are born prematurely and every one of them is struggling daily to survive.
When I meet the parents of these newborns I am always struck by their strength and optimism. Their ability to maintain a bright outlook, and still laugh together, is nothing short of miraculous. I am sure there are times when they feel defeated and exhausted, but they always manage a smile.
My first session was with a family who had been trying for a very long time to have children. They had finally settled on a surrogate and the surrogate had conceived twins. The parents to be were from Canada and the surrogate was here in Denver. When the surrogate went into premature labor, the parents had to drop everything and fly down to Denver to be with their newborn twins. One of the twins was quickly given the all clear to go home, but the other needed multiple surgeries over a series of months. Because of the fragility of the second twin, the parents were unable to stay at the Ronald MacDonald House nearby if they wanted to be able to bring the first twin into the hospital room to be with his sister. When I met them, they had already been staying in a hotel near the hospital for a few weeks. That was in November of 2013, and they still had months ahead of them with surgeries scheduled through February 2014 at Children’s Hospital in Denver. Yet, in spite of this they were upbeat about the future and happy just to be with their twins, no matter what it took to be there for them.
My most recent session was with a family who live almost 70 miles from the hospital where their baby was born. Their daughter was born roughly three months early weighing just 1lb 7oz. When I met them Olyvia (who was absolutely beautiful, by the way) had been in the NICU for 87 days! She was still on oxygen and waiting to be strong enough to undergo heart surgery In addition to that she had been diagnosed with down syndrome. She was adorable!
I cannot begin to imagine the strength that it takes to get up every morning, for 87 days and go to the NICU, spend the entire day there with very little company and then go home at night knowing that you are going to do exactly the same thing tomorrow. Yet, that is what Olyvia’s Mom did, because that is what parents do when they are head over heels in love with their child; and you could see in her eyes that that was the case.
Meeting the parents of these newborns makes me realize just how fortunate I am; how much I have to be grateful for. I had two easy pregnancies and two healthy babies, who are now teenage boys. When things happen easily, we take them for granted. Volunteering for this organization makes me stop and see that I shouldn’t take things for granted, that whilst something might come easily to me, there are so many people out there struggling with the very thing that I take for granted. Instead of moping about the things that have happened to us I am able to look at my family and truly appreciate just how fortunate we are.
Through volunteering with The Tiny Footprints Project, I have met some amazing people. There are the parents that are there with their newborns all day, every day pulling for them. There are the families of those parents who are there to offer their love and support so that those parents can be there. There are the staff in the NICU who work tirelessly to be able to send those babies home healthy. Finally; there are the newborns themselves. These tiny, fragile babies fighting with all their strength to survive.
I LOVE volunteering for this organization.
If you know of a family with a newborn in the NICU who you feel might benefit from the services provided by The Tiny Footprints Project, please let them know about this organization. If they are interested in a newborn session they should contact The Tiny Footprints Project to request a session by emailing
and including the following information
- email address
- phone number
- name of hospital
- city and state/province of hospital
- approximate time baby(s) will be in the NICU