MERIDIAN, Idaho -- Baby Naomi Garcia is a true fighter. She was born 10 weeks early, and suffered severe brain trauma, but months later, she is now home with her family.
Her mom says Naomi is a true miracle.
Naomi's mom, Emily Garcia, always had faith in her baby girl, even though the odds were against her. With the help of a local photographer, she now has beautiful memories to last a lifetime, and even more than that.
Here is the story of Baby Naomi's hero.
When Naomi Garcia was born 10 weeks early, she was under 4 pounds.
"When they took her, they found out there was a brain bleed that was really severe," said Emily Garcia, Naomi's mom.
Her doctors didn't give her long to live. "We were just scared what to do, and we took it one step at a time," Garcia said.
The family was devastated, but Mom, Dad and big brother Luke wanted to capture this sweet little girl on camera just in case they had to say goodbye. "If I can't keep her here, I want something to remember her by, and that's when I contacted Sarah," Garcia said.
LOCAL PHOTOGRAPHER FINDS HER STRENGTH
Sarah Ledford is a local photographer who would soon change little Naomi's life. She received an email from Emily Garcia asking for help in capturing the family's memories. "I just replied and said 'There's no cost. I'll just be there when do you want me there,'" Ledford explained.
There is a group of photographers here in the treasure valley who volunteer to take pictures of babies like Naomi who aren't expected to survive. However, Sarah Ledford isn't one of them -- this was her first time. "I have never volunteered for them because I am not emotionally strong enough to go into that situation," Ledford said.
She admits she had no idea how she found the strength to help the Garcias. "I really don't," Ledford said. "It was one of those, you are being called to do this, so you have the strength to do it."
Ledford eventually completed several photo sessions with the family at a local hospital.
Naomi's mom explains that it was a very sad situation, and the family had to keep fighting for Naomi. "At the beginning, they were telling us that she would never be able to see, hear or make any kinds of noise," Garcia said.
However, as the weeks went by, Naomi stunned her doctors. "She's an incredible little girl; she can hear; she can see," Garcia explained, adding "She's almost rolling over."
PHOTOS TURN INTO FRIENDSHIP
It was after one of the hospital photo sessions that Garcia contacted Ledford and asked her to accompany the family as they took baby Naomi home. "She emailed me after that session and said 'Guess what? We're going home on Saturday,'" Ledford explained. "I said, 'I want to come...'"
So Sarah Ledford went to the Garcia's home in Meridian and took more pictures.
Ledford says she quickly noticed the family didn't have what they needed for baby Naomi, and that she needed a lot of special care.
"She came a couple of months early, and we were still trying to get there, but we couldn't," Garcia said.
"When I left the house after shooting Naomi at home, it weighed very heavy on my heart," Ledford said.
Sarah wanted to do something to help, so she turned to Facebook and asked for donations from her Facebook friends.
"My facebook page has been in love with baby Naomi since I posted the first photos," Ledford said.
Money soon started flowing in from people Ledford didn't even know. "I don't even know most of these people -- it's all across the U.S." she said.
Ledford used the money to take the Garcias shopping at Babies-R-Us. The family bought a playpen, a baby swing, and a play mat for baby Naomi.
Emily Garcia says she is now amazed at the generosity of strangers. "Yes, it's incredible -- just complete strangers going out of their way to make all kinds of donations," Garcia said, adding "We are so grateful."
Now baby Naomi is home - where she belongs, and she has what she needs to be comfortable. Meanwhile, Sarah says if she's called to help another family with a sick baby, she'll muster the strength to do it.
To find more information about Sarah Ledford and see her photos, visit Ledford's website.