Congratulations to these tiny graduates! A birthing centre in North Carolina has been holding mini graduation ceremonies for premature babies when they leave hospital – and it's the cutest thing we've seen all week. Neonatal nurse Melissa Jordan and her colleagues at the CaroMont Regional Medical Center in Gastonia, North Carolina came up with the idea six months ago, and they've been performing the ceremonies ever since.
Doctors and nurses at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) look after the babies, who are born six or more weeks premature, until they are ready to go home. When that day comes, the babies are treated to a small graduation ceremony, complete with tiny caps made out of foam. Each cap comes with a personalised message, that reads, "X days behind me, a whole lifetime in front of me," with the number of days they spent in the NICU. Like most university and high school graduates, the babies also have traditional photoshoots!
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Each baby graduate is given a special personalised cap
"When I started the program, I called Bella Baby Photography," Melissa told BuzzFeed Health. "They take pictures of all our babies going home – and asked if they could come photograph the NICU grads, and the photographer actually offered to give these pictures to the parents free of charge."
The neonatal nurse added that she was inspired to start the graduation ceremonies six months ago, when one of her baby patients had been in the NICU for 62 days. "We had a baby born at 29 weeks gestation so he was in the NICU for over two months, and when he was finally ready to discharge, the family came and brought this onesie that said 'NICU grad'," she explained. Melissa added: "Leaving the NICU can be joyful but also scary and nerve-wracking, so this was our way of bringing a little normalcy to taking the baby home."