Photographer documents her premie's NICU journey

- The sudden, unexpected birth of her baby became an emotional journey for a young mother. But she reacted with the instincts of an artist.

Ryan and Ashley Bahr's daughter Presley came into the world nine weeks early. She weighed three pounds and five ounces. Because of her daughter's fragile condition, Ashley couldn't see her baby right away.

"Our nurse... Andrea, she was my friend that told me, 'Your baby's coming early. You're not going to get to hold her. Maybe prepare yourself,'" Ashley said.

Nurse Andrea had an idea.

"She took this picture over the NICU staff as they were working on Presley and that's how I saw her for the first time," Ashley remembered.

Ashley is a photographer, so she decided to document Presley's journey during her time in NICU, including the moment of meeting brother Mayson.

"We're a success story,  but when you're in the NICU  you're around a lot of families, a lot of babies, and we met other families and other people weren't so blessed as we were," Ryan said.

The Bahrs and families of other premature babies have been helped by the March Of Dimes. They felt an immediate connection to the organization because Presley was born on the same day as the March For Babies event back in 2015.

"When we got out of the NICU, we knew we wanted to make a difference, and when we had Presley, our entire community and our friends and even friends and family of our friends and family were reaching out to us like, 'What can we do to help you?'" Ashley said.

They started their own team for March Of Dimes called Presley's Pack to raise funds and awareness.

"Prevent preterm labor, preterm birth, but to also have healthy babies, and if we can help in that cause and in that research and help a family have an easier NICU stay, help that baby and give them a fighting chance by raising these funds, then we're going to do it every year," Ashley said.

The Bahrs are the Suncoast ambassador family for March Of Dimes.

For more information on the March For Babies events, visit https://marchforbabies.org/Registration/Events/?SessionId=&PersonId=&ParticipantId=&CampaignId=74&zip=33609

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