NICU Babies Get A Special July Fourth Surprise

by Keiko Zoll

One of the best parts of being a new parent is celebrating your child's first holidays during their first year of life. Even better are the endless "Baby's First" onesies and other holiday-themed outfits, and dressing up little ones in red, white, and blue for July Fourth is no exception. For one group of parents though, their babies are celebrating July Fourth a lot earlier than they were supposed to — but their parents and care teams have made it just as special even so. A hospital threw a July Fourth party in the NICU for the babies and their parents, and the photos are pretty much the sweetest thing ever.

As any preemie parent can understand, it's exhausting when you feel totally isolated from the rest of the world and your child is in the NICU — even more so when it feels like everyone around you is just chilling out and relaxing for the Independence Day holiday weekend. Advocate Children’s Hospital, with Chicago-area campuses at Oak Lawn and Park Ridge in Illinois, made July Fourth super special for its tiniest and most fragile patients.

According to a statement from the hospital, nurses and child life specialists dressed up the preemies in festive, patriotic outfits and decorated their bassinets for the holiday. The hospital even had photographers on hand to capture these touching first July Fourth moments for each baby and their family.

Twins are not an uncommon sight in NICU wards, no matter where you are in the country. According to Parents Magazine, twins are typically born four weeks early. Even Beyoncé's twins were reportedly born premature — even though their exact birth date has yet to be officially confirmed by the 35-year-old music goddess.

While the twins at Advocate Children's may not have been nearly as star studded, they're still just as special. Babies Lucy and William were dressed in matching stars and stripes, while Lucy got a lovely white bow headband to finish off her special outfit.

Twin babies Idris and Isaac were draped in matching flag button-down shirts, while their crib got a cute "I heart USA" decoration added to it.

The July Fourth NICU celebration is particularly special for baby Jamaria, who was born at the Oak Lawn campus three months early in April. Her original due date was July 4, according to the hospital.

Baby Lori has just about the fanciest hospital baby beanie I think I've ever seen, which looked just too sweet with her "All American Cutie" ruffled outfit. Also: Those cheeks! Oh my goodness.

The NICU at both Advocate Children's Hospital locations are classified as level III, meaning they care for some of the earliest premature babies who have some of the most life-threatening conditions. Advocate Children's Hospital was recently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation's top 50 children's hospitals for pediatric cardiology and heart surgery. Baby Cayden raises the roof for his first Fourth.

According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, preterm births are rising in the United States, with nearly 10 percent of babies born prematurely before 37 weeks gestation. Baby Conor takes a major snooze, because let's face it: Bein' a baby is hard work.

For the parents of baby Brooklyn, her striped bow headband and July Fourth romper were the finishing touch for her very first Independence Day.

Nurses even went so far as to string up some red, white, and blue lights, and added a poster of "Brooklyn's BBQ" — because what's more patriotic and American that a July Fourth barbecue?

As overwhelming as NICU life can be for babies, their parents, and even their nurses and doctors, it's pretty rad that Advocate Children's Hospital was able to make the July Fourth holiday special for each and every preemie baby.