Babies born prematurely spend weeks or months in the hospital as they build the strength to become thriving children, and their parents face often unanticipated and overwhelming fears, worries, and demands while supporting their new little ones.
Quebec photographer Red Méthot has created a very intimate photo series, named “Las Premas” (The Premature Babies), about this struggle. His portraits feature children and adults who were born weeks or even months prematurely, posing with black-and-white images of their fragile newborn selves. The contrast of their first days of life — often in the NICU surrounded by wires and tubes — with the smiling, healthy faces holding the frames is uplifting and inspiring.
The project happens to be very personal for Méthot. “My two children were born prematurely,” the photographer tells Yahoo Parenting. “My intention with this project is to show to people what prematurity is, to fight against some prejudices, and to send a big message of hope to parents going through a tough time.”
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The message is being received and is going viral, as the photographer’s Facebook album has over 5,000 likes and 13,000 shares, and comments from those who are adding their own stories and tagging friends and family who may be touched by the images. “Prematurity often robs families of feeling the typical joys of having a new baby,” Trish Ringley, a NICU nurse who runs a support website for NICU families, tells Yahoo Parenting. “But seeing these pictures reminds everyone to celebrate all beautiful premature babies, because look how wonderfully they grow.”
Méthot has expressed concern that publishing the photos would upset parents who had lost their premature babies. But as one mom, Marie M., commented, “It is certainly hard for a mom who lost her little boy at 22 weeks to see a little girl born 25 weeks is doing so well and became so pretty… But at the same time, it’s so beautiful and full of hope.” The photographer replied, “Glad to know that the message can be received by those for whom it does not end so well.”
Other commenters, like Bénédicte P., want the photos displayed in hospitals for parents of premature babies, saying, “It would help parents who live the same test to see that it is but a passage and the best is yet to come!” A NICU nurse, Emmanuelle D., commented, “These photos make me want to continue to care for these little treasures.” And Marie C. simply wrote, “It gives courage, to see the success stories.”