A Preemie's Journey to Health

Spotlight / Shoot Spotlight
Michael Sugrue
Emilie McKittrick
Jun 6, 2019
The birth of a child is a momentous and emotional experience in a parent’s life, but when a parent chooses to document the birth of their baby, we have the opportunity to witness a unique and rarely captured event. Michael Sugrue shares an incredibly intimate look at the day to day progress of his premature baby. From the first tentative moments with his wife in the NICU, to the baby’s growth into a thriving little girl at home, these images are tender and moving.  His delicate use of light and adept handling of perspective allows the viewer to almost feel present in the hospital room with them. Here, Michael describes the experience in his words.
“Photography is a deeply ingrained part of my life, so it was both natural and expected by my wife and I that I would document the birth of our baby. Our little girl arrived unexpectedly early, evoking feelings and emotions we did not expect. My wife was hospitalized a couple of weeks before the birth, and the doctors and nurses prepared us for the fact that our daughter would need to be in the NICU for a period of time. The hospital staff answered all of our clinical questions, but nobody can prepare you for how you’ll feel.
My intent with these images was not to document a journey, but simply to capture the moment‑to‑moment experience. There is an image of my daughter immediately after her birth, motivating the absolute joy of that moment, of hearing her first cries, as well as the anxiety of having to immediately hand her over to the NICU team. All of the images, at least the ones from the NICU, are my interpretation of what we were feeling in that second. There is a lot of happiness there, but also deep sadness and frustration at being separated from our helpless child, while other new parents were sleeping in the same hospital room as their babies and taking them home.
Our girl was a fighter from the first. Ever since we finally brought her home, every image has been about capturing the joy of watching her grow from the tiniest three and a half pound infant, to a thriving, grinning, fearless toddler”.

As a creative team dedicated to providing truly authentic content around human stories, Getty Images is thrilled to share this intimate 360 narrative chronicling a premature birth and the concepts of resilience, support, and transformation that are seldom as palpable as in these images.
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