NICU babies get special graduations as they're discharged

- Graduations mark a huge milestone in life, but sometimes they are not always for students.

NICU babies at CaroMont Regional Medical Center in North Carolina are receiving their own ceremonies to mark their discharge from the hospital.

Melissa Jordan, a 28-year-old neonatal nurse at the hospital, came up with the idea when one of the babies in the unit was ready to go home after a 62-day stay.

Baby Wyatt 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

When Jordan went home that night, she made a graduation hat out of construction paper for Wyatt and brought it to his “ceremony” the next day.

Jordan called Bella Baby Photography to help with the moment, and photographer Amanda Meixsell agreed to do the shoot for free.

“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.

That was six months ago, and now the unit has decided to give every baby born at least six weeks premature a graduation when it’s their time to go home.

“The hats have advanced and now I make them out of foam paper," Jordan said. "They’ve gotten prettier."

Each hat says “NICU GRAD,” and indicates the number of days the baby was in the unit, along with the message, "A whole life in front of me."

Bella Baby Photography continues to give each parent the photos, free of charge.


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