"If his picture gets anyone to become more familiar with the struggles of NICU babies and their parents, then it's a massive success," says Jensen Karp

By Maria Pasquini Anya Leon
September 09, 2019 11:00 AM

Although Danielle Fishel and husband Jensen Karp have been vocal about their decision to maintain son Adler Lawrence‘s privacy, the couple also want to raise awareness around the struggles parents and babies who spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit can face.

In this week’s PEOPLE, on newsstands now, the couple share the first photos of their 10-week-old’s face as they open up about the “extremely scary” weeks they faced following his birth, when he spent 21 days in the NICU due to fluid build-up in his lungs caused by chylothorax, a rare leak in the lymphatic system.

As excerpts from the story were published online, along with their family snapshots, the new dad wrote a lengthy Instagram post explaining why the couple made an exception to their decision not to post photos of Adler’s face.

“Having a baby in the social media era is tricky. For the past year, @daniellefishel and I have struggled with our inner need to show off just how freaking cute our son is (he looks like if Al Michaels was a Glo Worm) and the idea that we know it’s not necessarily fair to him,” Karp, 39, began alongside an image of their son’s nursery.

“We became aware that Adler would have no say over what is being posted of him, or if he’d want to live a public life (like his parents),” he continued. “We also were fearful of comments or replies from troll neckbeards that he would later stumble on, attached to his image — all without his knowledge or approval.”

Justin Coit

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RELATED: Danielle Fishel Reveals She Had to Stop Breastfeeding Her Newborn Son Adler During His Recovery

Karp, an executive producer of Drop the Mic, went on to share that the couple had also decided to “publish our family pictures once” — just not on Instagram.

“To combat the fact that Danielle had paparazzi follow her to our favorite deli and our bank during her pregnancy, we would publish our family pictures once, with a magazine, away from anonymous accounts and tummy tea ads,” he went on in his Wednesday post.

“We felt more in control, and we felt sharing the story of our son’s health issues was important, and an easier explanation once Adler got older,” he continued, adding that “if his picture gets anyone to become more familiar with the struggles of NICU babies and their parents, then it’s a massive success.”

Danielle Fishel and son Adler
Justin Coit

Earlier in the summer, Fishel explained that not sharing photos of their son’s face “wasn’t an easy decision for us.”

“The truth is, choosing not to post pictures of him kinda sucks. I wanna show you my baby every day. He’s cuter than this 👼 but I worry about a couple things,” she wrote on Instagram. “1. His safety. There are weirdos out there. Enough said. 2. Putting pictures and facts about him onto the internet that he doesn’t have any say in. I’d like for him to be able to curate his own footprint on the internet in the future without being mortified we posted about his fear of swimming or his first crush.”

The former Boy Meets World actress added that she also has a good deal of respect for fellow famous parents who have made different choices.

“I look at people like Chrissy Teigen and I *love* how she posts about her kids and I respect her decision. It makes me think I can/should do the same thing. But then I see Kristen Bell and Dax [Shepard] and I respect and understand their decision too!” she wrote.

RELATED GALLERY: The Great Social Media Debate: Celebs on Why They Do (or Don’t) Share Pics of Their Kids

However, just because they weren’t showing their son’s face at the moment didn’t mean Fishel and her husband wouldn’t be documenting some of Adler’s adorable moments.

“I’m also not going to not post a beautiful picture of one of my best friends holding my baby for the first time because seeing an emoji over his face ticks you off,” she wrote. “I’m sorry if that offends you but we’re doing the best we can and it’s hard. Being a parent and making decisions for your kid is tough. Fyi, dogs are easier. 🐶❤️”

Now that their son is back home and his lungs have healed on their own, Fishel tells PEOPLE for this week’s issue that “he’s definitely a chill baby.”

“He’s giving us lots of smiles and he’s very strong. He’s holding his neck up, he’s looking around. When he is awake and alert, he makes very intense eye contact. He’s very curious,” the actress says, adding that their son was also born with “an insane amount of hair.”

Adler Karp
Justin Coit
Danielle Fishel and Jensen Karp with son Adler
Justin Coit

RELATED: Danielle Fishel Opens Up About “Best Days of My Life” Three Weeks After Son Adler’s Birth

Like all parents, the couple are also trying to balance enjoying their baby’s first weeks while simultaneously looking forward to all the milestones yet to come.

“There are so many things we can’t wait [for]. We can’t wait to hear what his voice sounds like. We can’t wait to know what his final eye color is going to be,” Fishel says. “We’re also trying to soak up all of these seconds with him because it does go by so fast.”

For more from Danielle Fishel, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.

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