Mom Opens Up About the Heartbreak of the NICU With Emotional Photos

Alex Warden is a professional maternity and newborn photographer, so when her own child was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), she did what she knew best and captured the emotional moments on camera. At the end of May, her son Van was born at 31 weeks and five days, where he remained in the NICU for a month and a half. Alex recently took to her blog to open up about her childbirth experience along with a series of beautiful photos, and it's incredibly touching.

"Van came out lungs blaring, a huge relief!" she recalled of the scary moment. "I reached out and popped him on my chest for a quick cuddle before the NICU nurse took him to check him over. It didn't take long for his cries to turn into a gurgling sound, a sign that he was struggling to breathe on his own."

A fear that many mothers have became a reality for Alex, but when it was time to see her baby, nothing else mattered.

"I was just so relieved that he had made it here safely that I seen past all the distracting monitors and machines attached to his tiny frame and seen this little 1.7 kg bundle of perfection," the Australian mom of two wrote.

Alex described the moment she held her son for the first time — which she photographed beautifully — hearing the machines control Van's breathing and realizing how he "had more growing to do and was not yet strong enough to get by in this world without medical assistance."

The hardest part about this entire experience didn't come until days later, when it was time for Alex to go home.

"Whilst I knew he was in the best hands possible it ripped my heart out returning from hospital with empty arms," she explained. "A little warm body quickly filled those empty arms whenever I arrived home. My daughter was missing her mummy and the guilt followed me everywhere, when I was at the hospital I was missing Lennon, when I was at home I was missing Van. It goes against all your natural instincts to leave your baby behind in a hospital and I wouldn't wish it upon anyone."

The next few weeks were spent at home and visiting the NICU, where baby Van was only allowed skin-to-skin contact once per day. When you're a new mom, the only thing you want to do is hold your baby around the clock, but this only meant that Alex and her husband cherished those moments even more.

After moving to an open crib, Alex said, "the nappy changes are easier, the cuddles are more frequent, you can study their face endlessly, and there's no more gawking through a clinical plastic box."

It has been a whirlwind of emotions, but Van is now home and surrounded by love, and Alex praised her village of people that made this all possible. She photographed the ups and the downs of these past months, and the photos will touch all parents.