When it became clear that Francesca Page, then 27 weeks pregnant, was not leaving the hospital before she delivered her baby, she felt sad that she was missing out on some of the traditional mom-to-be experiences. But that sadness didn't last long. A week into her stay, her sister, Georgina, threw Page a maternity photo shoot in the hospital.
“It was hilarious. It was so wonderful,” the 30-year-old journalist from Long Island City, N.Y. told TODAY Parents. “She wanted me to feel like a pregnant woman and she didn’t want me to feel like this thing lying in hospital.”
Georgina came prepared: She smuggled in Page's 5-year-old toy Yorkie and a green screen so that the photos had a professional backdrop. Friends painted Page's nails and fixed her hair. The guests drank Champagne as Page posed draped in red fabric with flowers in her hair, a nod to Valentine's Day, which was upcoming.
“It was nice to feel human again,” she explained. “The very tough part of it was trying to celebrate the life of someone coming amid a medical situation.”
Page was admitted to the hospital at 27 weeks after experiencing early contractions and unexplained bleeding. Doctors hoped to put off an early delivery as long as possible. The uncertainty felt overwhelming, but Page decided to face the unknown with the same excitement as an expectant mother with a healthy pregnancy.
“I thought either I can sit here and be scared every day or make the most of it,” Page said. “I can think of all the things that are terrible about it or I can think about all the good things of having a baby girl.”
So Page began excited preparations for her baby. But there was only so much she could do from her hospital bed. Then her sister arrived.
On Valentine’s Day, she gave birth to Nicolette Rose, who weighed 2 pounds 9 ounces at 29 weeks. Nicolette shares her mom’s strength.
“She is a big personality,” Page said. “She was called ‘Premie Donna’ because she was so tiny with so much fire.”
Nicolette spent six weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit before coming home with Page and her husband, Daniel Green. Page credits her ability to stay so positive and upbeat with “expecting the unexpected.”
“I had never planned out what having a baby would look like,” she said. “I am not the only woman out there who has gone through crazy birth stories. It is more and more important to talk about what we go through. It is tough being a mom — everything you go through until that point can be so extreme.”