By Natalie Dreier, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A baby this time of year is the best holiday present parents can get, and a hospital in Kansas City, Missouri is documenting it for the growing families.
With help from photographers from Faces You Love Photography and the March of Dimes, volunteers covered newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit at Saint Luke’s Hospital with a small felt blanket and bow to “wrap” the babies as presents.
Santa delivered an additional present to each family. They all received a “Twas a Night Before Christmas” card that was decorated with a mouse made out of their child’s footprint, a small hand-made Santa bag filled with candy, a crocheted Santa hat or bow cap and a book for the family to read together.
Families who celebrate Hanukkah and Kwanzaa were given holiday-appropriate gifts also.
The photographers know what it is like to be in the parents’ shoes. They all had newborns who spent time in the NICU when their babies were born.
“The holidays can be an especially emotional time for families in the NICU,” Michelle Manuel told ABC News. “Babies here are usually born premature or sick and they may spend weeks or months growing healthy enough to go home. So providing these special families with an opportunity to celebrate the holidays in a memorial way allows them a sense of normalcy, and an opportunity to celebrate their babies’ first milestones – even in the hospital – which is what every family wants to do!”
“Being a NICU parent is really tough. We didn’t quite understand how tough it would be until we got here. It’s a little isolating and it’s sad. And you’re concerned about the health of your baby…But we know this is the absolute best place for them, and they’re being so well cared for,” Katilyn Bunch told ABC News.