When she woke up one morning in April, she felt more than just butterflies in her belly. But she tried to ignore the pain because in just a few days’ time she’d be walking down the aisle and she didn’t want anything to spoil her big moment.
Grier Stanley's baby wasn’t due for 12 weeks. But babies play by their own rules and this one had decided it was time to enter the big, wide world.
Grier and her boyfriend, Jason Barnwell, welcomed their baby, Drue, on 21 April. Because she was born prematurely at just 28 weeks, she weighed less than a kilogram.
Her parents were terribly worried about their tiny newborn and decided to postpone their wedding, which was supposed to have taken place the following week.
Now the American couple have finally tied the knot – and they did it in the hospital where they became a family.
Jason (36) and Grier (37) said their "I do's" at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (Nicu) in the Lawrence Memorial hospital in Connecticut, America, surrounded by the nurses who'd cared for their daughter.
Jason says it was a nurse who suggested they have the wedding at the Nicu.
“She’s like, ‘Oh well, you guys should just get married here’, because she knew what had happened with Drue coming early," he says.
At first he brushed off the idea, but he slowly started warming to it.
The couple went all out for their big day. Jason looked dapper in a blue suit, while Grier looked lovely in a white jumpsuit and lace overcoat. Even baby Drue dressed up for the special occasion. The little girl looked adorable in a flower wreath as her mom carried her in a wrap.
Grier and Jason took their vows in the same unit where they'd spent 105 days monitoring their infant's development. For the first-time parents, having their daughter and their nursing family around made it even more memorable.
“I’ve been a neonatologist for 30 years. This is my first wedding in a Nicu,” says the hospital's Nicu director, Dr James Pellegrini.
“It’s definitely a celebration, most importantly of this family. It’s also a great reward for the entire staff, the nurses, the respiratory therapists, the folks that keep the place clean. All of us work very hard to provide a special environment that our community relies on,” he says.
Grier kept Drue near during the service. With the help of the Nicu team, she's gone from strength to strength and now weighs around 3,6kg.
On 5 August, two days after their wedding, the family's joy was doubled when baby Drue was discharged from hospital with a clean bill of health.
“We love each other even more,” Jason says. “It’s like, 'Wow, look how far we've come. Look how far Drue has come.' All those emotions are catching up to us. We look at what we did and how strong we were as a family, all of us together.”
SOURCES: PEOPLE.COM, TODAY.COM, LMHOSPITAL.ORG, NBCCONNECTICUT.COM