Graduations are a special part of life. They’re an opportunity to celebrate what’s been accomplished in the past while looking forward to the good to be had in the future. And they work for people of all ages. But not every graduation needs to involve an accomplishment at school. You might graduate on to a new job. You might graduate into adulthood. Or, in the case of these NICU babies, you might graduate into life outside of the hospital walls. When these adorable babies were released from the hospital, the nurses gave them a special, emotional send off. Check it out below!
Each of the NICU babies at CaroMont Regional Medical Center in North Carolina have a unique story. And now that they’re being discharged, they are each receiving a special graduation ceremony.
28-year-old neonatal nurse Melissa Jordan is the mastermind behind this heartwarming ceremony. She first had the idea when one baby went home after a difficult 62-day stay in the NICU.
His name was Wyatt. And he was born at just 29 weeks.
“The family brought in a onesie that read “NICU Grad” a day before [Wyatt’s] discharge. He was going home and I wanted to make it special for them because it had been a long time,” Jordan told InsideEdition.com.
That night, when Jordan went home, she crafted a graduation hat. With black construction paper, she made the hat for Wyatt to wear for his graduation “ceremony” the next day.
While that would have been generous enough, Jordan had bigger plans. She called Bella Baby Photography and told them her vision. Photographer Amanda Meixsell agreed to do the photo shoot for free. Now Wyatt’s parents have adorable and priceless photos of their “graduating” infant.
“I gathered up all the staff and we went in singing and dancing to “Graduation” by Vitamin C. We gave him the graduation hat while his pictures were being taken,” Jordan said.
Jordan’s idea was born six months ago. Wyatt is now growing into a healthy toddler. And since then, Jordan has kept the ceremony alive and gave every baby born at six weeks premature or more their own graduation.
“The hats have advanced and now I make them out of foam paper,” Jordan said. “They’ve gotten prettier.”
The hats each read “NICU GRAD.” It also says the number of days the baby remained in the unit.
Then the hat concludes with the aspirational sendoff message: “A whole life in front of me.”
“It’s overwhelming,” Jordan said. “You’re happy, but you’re sad at the same time because you get so close to the babies and families. It’s a huge deal for the babies to be able to go home. It’s exciting to be able to give them this graduation hat.”
Bella Baby Photography still participates. And they still DO NOT CHARGE for the service.
“It’s been great meeting the different families and being able to be a part of the family’s growth story,” Meixsell told InsideEdition.com.
Not only do the parents get copies of the photos, but the hospital is hanging them up too. NICU has had 14 graduates including three sets of twins.
“I always wanted to be in the NICU and it’s not like a job you can get fresh out of school as a nurse, but since I started the graduations, I feel like I have a higher purpose for why I am here,” Jordan said.
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