Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Taking Pictures

Obviously we all take pictures of our precious preemies - some of us might be accused of taking too many (if you're in that group well, come have a seat next to me). Preemies present some interesting and challenging photo opportunities. I've covered some of those suggestions and issues in previous posts but I thought I would pull them together into one post.

In the NICU:
When your preemie is in the NICU you will obviously want to take a lot of photos. You want to document this very important time in his/her (and your) life and be able to show off your miracle to those who can't visit him/her. Remember to check the flash before taking a picture in the NICU - your preemie's eyes are going to be sensitive to light. Here are tips and ideas for taking photos in the NICU:

  • If your baby is in an isolette - try and find the best angle to hold your camera so that the amount of glare is reduced. Whenever possible, take a photo of your babies face through the hand openings so that you can get an unobstructed view of your baby. Step back a few steps and take a picture of the whole isolette too.
  • Showing size - pictures always make a baby look bigger than they are. Choose one object and photograph your preemie with that object throughout their time in the NICU. You can use a wedding ring, bracelet, small stuffed animal, ruler, diaper, your hand, a pacifier, etc. It's helpful if you also take a picture of the actual item next to something else so that people know just how big or small the item is in comparison.
  • Showing size, part 2 - My mom found one picture of my daughter that had the nurses hand in the picture near her head. She printed out the picture in a 5x7 size and realized that the picture was life-sized. This was a great way for people to really grasp just how small our daughter was.
  • Photograph milestones - Obviously you want to photograph the big (and little) events that happen to your preemie in the NICU. Make sure you capture the first time you hold your preemie, give him/her a bath, if he/she is on a vent or oxygen support - photograph when they change oxygen support or come off of it completely, moving from an isolette to an open crib, if grandparents/relatives come to visit - photograph them interacting with your preemie (even if they can't hold him/her), first feeding from a bottle, the day the feeding tube is removed, etc.

Here is a picture of our son with a pacifier - we would show people the pacifier along with the picture and it was a great way for them to realize just how small he was.

At Home
Obviously once you get home there are a myriad of photographing opportunities. Just like with any full term baby there will be milestones such as rolling over, sitting up, crawling, walking, birthday parties, etc. For preemies, here are some additional opportunities and ideas for taking pictures that continue to show just how far your little one has come.

  • Coming home - clearly you want to document this momentous occasion - hand the camera to someone else so they can photograph your preemie arriving home and checking out his/her new digs.
  • First times at home - Although many preemie firsts may have occurred in the NICU, you still get to experience those things at home for the first time. The first bath at home, first time a sibling gets to meet/hold your preemie, first time in the crib, etc. It's a whole new experience doing these things at home than in the NICU.
  • Other milestones to think about - first time meeting relatives and friends, first time going out of the house, first time at the park, first time in the stroller, etc.
  • Siblings - Make sure you photograph the reaction of your other siblings to the arrival of your preemie. This is especially key if your other children weren't able to see your preemie in the NICU and this is the first time they are meeting their new brother or sister.
  • Showing size - still - Your preemie still has a lot of growing to do. You can document this growth by having your preemie hold the same item from the NICU that was used to show size. Take their picture with that item every month, year, or whatever works for you. For our son's first two Christmas's we took a picture of him in a stocking - the first year he fit entirely inside it and by the second year it barely went to his knees. It still serves as the most dramatic proof of how much he grew that first year.

Do you have a tip for a milestone to document or how to best take a picture of your preemie? Please leave a comment if you do. Thanks!

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