Couple Brings Wedding To NICU After Bride Went Into Premature Labor

A couple who had to cancel their wedding twice due to the early arrival of their baby decided to get married early in the NICU, after being convinced by a nurse to do so.


New parents, Grier Stanley Barnwell and Jason Barnwell were all set to get married but suddenly on April 21, Grier went into labor and on the insistence of her midwife she got checked up and was surprised to know that she was 6 cms dilated and was going to deliver her baby in the next 2 hours.

Baby Drue was born prematurely at 28 weeks, weighing only 2 pounds, and had to be intubated and receive a blood transfusion. So, the couple canceled their wedding scheduled for the following week and instead spent more than 100 days in the NICU at a Connecticut hospital.

Drue was extubated in the first 24 hours but needed support to grow as she was struggling to breathe at times and had her ups and downs. “The first 12 hours were really really rough,” Stanley Barnwell said. “It’s just a helpless feeling and we are both protectors and doers and fixers and this was really a crazy curveball to not to be really able to do anything.”

“She had to stay in the NICU to get through those first hurdles of being so premature and then allowing her body to catch up and grow and develop,” Stanley Barnwell said.

Grier Stanley Barnwell spoke about her wedding cancellation, “I was all sutured up and in bed I remember getting out the laptop and emailing Father Tony, who’s our rector for our church, and also the photographer, to say, ‘Hey we are not going to be able to meet next week. We’ve had a little change of plans,’” Stanley Barnwell said. “They told us we would be in the NICU for at least eight to 10 weeks, which brought her up to her due date of July 14.”

The couple tried to reschedule the wedding, but Father Tony became ill and they postponed again, they loved each other and wanted to get married but knew they’d have to wait till baby Drue was discharged from the hospital. That’s when a staff member suggested to them to have a NICU wedding, at the ceremony, Grier wore a crown her aunt Marty wore at her wedding several decades earlier. The couple maintained a video journal to share with loved ones.

“Our family didn’t even know we were getting married,” Stanley Barnwell said. “This was an amazing surprise for everybody.” The couple said “I do” in the NICU surrounded by all the medical staff that attended to their daughter. “The plan for the wedding, it was brought up by a nurse and she’s like, ‘Oh well, you guys should just get married here,’ because she knew what had happened with Drue coming early,” Jason Barnwell, 36, of New London Connecticut said. “We laughed it off like, ‘Are you serious?’ But she took it to another level.”

Barnwell looked dapper in a suit and Grier Barnwell wore a white lace duster over a white pantsuit and held Drue in a Moby wrap. It was special for the three of them with their baby being the youngest bridesmaid ever! “Drue gave us a smile at the end,” Stanley Barnwell, 37, told TODAY Parents. “She was smiling probably because it was her plan.” NICU staff and other parents of NICU babies were filled with joy at the moment.

“I’ve been a neonatologist for 30 years. This is my first wedding in a NICU,” Dr. James Pellegrini, director of the NICU at Yale New Haven Health Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, said. “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 very hard to provide a special environment that our community relies on.”

Drue went home on August 5, on Grier’s birthday, the whole experience at the NICU has brought the couple closer than ever. “We love each other even more,” Barnwell said. “It’s like ‘Wow, look how far we have come. Look how far Drue has come.’ All those emotions are catching up (to us). It’s like, ‘Wow look at what we did, look how strong we were as a family, all of us together.’”


Need some good news? After 100+ days in the NICU, this New London couple is getting ready to bring their baby home. Before leaving the hospital, they decided to tie the knot with their daughter in their arms and surrounded by the NICU team that carried their family through.

Full story ➡️

Posted by Siobhan McGirl NBC CT on Thursday, 4 August 2022


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