As I walked the familiar halls of Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles NICU, I thought of all the hundred’s of families fighting on behalf of their children. I took in the characteristic “hospital” smell and knew behind every door a battle was being waged. Brave children were undergoing surgeries and procedures, parents were uttering prayers and holding their little ones close, doctors and nurses were bringing all their skills and knowledge to the fight. Where many would see a tangle of tubes and wires, machines and bandages, others see a child to be loved and a struggle worth engaging in.

NICU parents are intimately aware of this. So often their babies are born straight into incubators and medical devices. They hold their child, sometimes for the first time weeks after their birth, covered in wires and tape. They sing lullabies to the accompaniment of heart rate and oxygen saturation machines. Alarms sound regularly and privacy is non-existent.

Born at 25 weeks and weighing 885 grams (1.8 pounds!), little Levi and his parents embarked on the NICU journey. His mom tells their story beautifully: “Our son is just 2 weeks old and we have learned so much about the NICU journey just within the 2 weeks. It is truly a roller coaster as they practically develop in front of your eyes. Some days are definitely better than others but each day brings more comfort in your baby’s growth. The good thing I have found is the amount of support there is for preemies out there. Our son spontaneously turned himself around in the womb at 25 weeks gestational age and was head down in the pelvis causing preterm labor that couldn’t be stopped with magnesium at the hospital. He was ready to come out! Now that he is here, he brings new meaning to life for us. He will have a fairly long journey in the NICU but he is truly our little NICU warrior”!

I was so proud to document his journey and hope these images will serve as a reminder of the courageous victory this family won. Baby Levi is now home and thriving!

Ambyr and Sam – Thank you for allowing me to tell your story. I wish you all the best for your family as Levi continues to grow and thrive. You all truly have a warrior spirit. – xo, Erin

All my NICU documentary work is provided free of charge to families with babies currently in the NICU or those who have graduated and are less than a year old through the amazing work of Preemie Prints.