A North Carolina nurse whose own daughter was born premature is now gifting maternity photo shoots for pregnant mothers on hospital bed rest.
Kayla McMillan, 28, who has been a labor and delivery nurse at the Duke Birthing Center in Durham for five years, gave birth to her daughter, Emma, at just 25 weeks due to eclampsia.
She missed out on a baby shower for her now 1-year-old daughter as well as maternity photos.
“It was really surreal just because I work in a place where things happen like this all the time," McMillan told InsideEdition.com. "I am a nurse and I never thought something like that would happen to me. It’s humbling because now I can help moms in the same position that I was in."
McMillan, who does photography as a hobby, decided she wanted to give something to mothers at Duke University Hospital who may be going through some of the same things she experienced.
In April, McMillan and her co-worker, Samantha Duncan, banded together to create their first maternity photo shoot for a mom confined to her hospital bed.
Duncan does makeup and hair for the women. McMillan then wheels the moms out to the beautiful landscape on Duke’s campus for the photo shoots.
The pair have done six photo shoots since they began.
McMillan said she understands how fearful it can be for moms to be in the hospital while pregnant, so she wants to give them something they can cherish.
“I see how happy they are [during the photo shoots] so it makes me emotional because I am giving them something they may not have gotten,” McMillan said. “It heals my heart a little bit when I take the photos because I am getting something that I didn’t get and their smile is my reward.”
Hollie Hawks was admitted to the hospital at 23 weeks and doctors didn’t think the baby would make it.
They weren’t sure if his lungs were developed.
“I had canceled everything. I wasn’t sure I wanted the memory,” Hawks said.
When McMillan presented the idea of a maternity photo shoot, Hawks said she wasn't sure about the idea.
“I didn’t know if it would be too hard, but we decided it was probably a good thing to do to heal if he didn’t make it,” Hawks said.
Thankfully, baby Isaac was born healthy at 30 weeks on May 3.
Hawks said she’s extremely grateful for all McMillan did for her while she was in the hospital.
“We just kind of had a connection right away with her experience with her daughter,” Hawks said. “Not only did she take pictures, she’d come in and talk to me if I was having a bad day. She even threw a baby shower for me because she knew I didn’t have one. She was truly a blessing.”