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Duke nurse plays photographer for moms with risky pregnancies

Monday, June 19, 2017
By Stephanie Lopez | WTVD ABC11

This story originally aired on Monday June, 19.

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DURHAM, North Carolina (WTVD) -- A Duke nurse is helping expecting mothers find some peace during one of the scariest moments in their lives. Kayla McMillan takes maternity pictures for moms who are spending weeks in the hospital during a risky pregnancy, to help them feel like they're not missing out on the joy of waiting for baby.

The sound of Hollie Hawks's baby crying is music to her ears.

"As soon as he was born he could die," Hawks said crying, describing the possibilities her doctors outlined for her unborn son. "He could have no lung function."

Her water broke at 16 weeks and she spent months waiting - unsure if she would ever meet her first child.

"We cancelled our baby showers," she said. "We still haven't finished the nursery. I couldn't do it. I couldn't have that stuff in my house if I wasn't bringing a baby home."

McMillan, her nurse at Duke Hospital, was all too familiar with Hollie's pain. She had a seizure when she was pregnant with her first child and had to deliver her daughter the same day at 25 weeks ... and just like that, the labor and delivery nurse became the mother of a neonatal intensive care unit patient.

McMillan didn't get to take maternity photos before her daughter's premature birth, but now the Duke nurse is trying to pay it forward to other moms like her.

"I feel so passionate about helping these women," she said, "because that was something that I had planned on, that I wanted, that I wanted to have on my wall, and to have that taken away from me kind of stung later."

So she gave Hawks a free maternity shoot on the hospital lawn, before Hollie's little bundle of joy arrived at 30 weeks - his lungs intact.

"She has made it so much easier on us," Hawks said. "Just having her, even now as a friend, we could never repay her for all she's done."

"Seeing him doing as well as he has, it still gives me chill bumps," McMillan said of Hawks's new son, Isaac. "Because it's amazing what miracles can happen."

"He's truly a miracle baby," Hawks said, teary eyed.