Was it a coincidence or meant to be? That’s the question that’s been on David Caldwell’s mind over the last several days. His wife Renata recently gave birth to their son at Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ. One of the nurses on staff, Lissa McGowan, was there to deliver their baby boy and comfort the family, but as it turns out, McGowan is the same nurse that delivered Caldwell nearly 34 years ago at the very same hospital.
McGowan has given back to the Caldwell family in more ways than one. Read more about her amazing story and why this coincidence means so much to her and her patients.
An Unforgettable Reunion
Lissa McGowan has been working at Saint Peter’s for over 40 years. During her tenure as a NICU nurse, she’s cared for hundreds of preterm babies. She’s often there to comfort the families through this difficult time, while caring for the most vulnerable of patients. Giving birth should be a cause for celebration, but for many families, it can be a time of great uncertainty.
Back in the late 80s, McGowan was there to care for a nervous woman who had just given birth to a premature baby. The mother was so grateful to McGowan that they decided to take a photo together. Little did McGowan know that she’d meet this fragile young creature nearly 34 years later. The baby grew up to be none other than David Caldwell.
Now, the shoe is on the other foot. Just last week, Caldwell brought his wife into the facility to give birth. Caldwell’s wife also gave birth to a premature baby, nearly 10 weeks early. It was only until afterward that the nurse realized she’d cared for this family before. She told Caldwell that she was the one that delivered him and cared for his mother all those years ago.
McGowan retrieved the photo she had taken with Caldwell’s mom and showed it to the anxious young couple. David recognized his mother in the photo right away, bringing the entire experience full circle.
A Blessing in Disguise?
For Caldwell, the reunion was more than just happenstance. It was a sign that his mother was looking down on him and smiling. Caldwell’s mother passed away back in 2004, and seeing this photo of his mother when she had just given birth was a reminder that she was still there looking down on him and smiling. Becoming a parent can be nerve-wracking for many individuals, especially after losing a parent. Caldwell would’ve loved to have shared this moment with his mother, but running into McGowan might have been the next best thing. He told reporters, “This happening is like a way of telling me that my mom is looking over me and my baby.”
For McGowan, the reunion was a small miracle in itself. As she told Good Morning America earlier this week, “I have never had this happen before. It’s kind of unusual having your preemie come back after 34 years…but to have a dad come in and be the dad of a preemie is a whole other story.”
For Caldwell’s wife Renata, seeing her partner reconnect with the same nurse 34 years later was a huge sigh of relief. She shared the following post online, “The past 2 weeks have been filled with worries and uncertainty, but we can breathe easy knowing my lil nugget’s nurse is the same one that helped the man I love when he was in the same situation.”
It was a beautiful reminder of the power of empathy and emotional support. NICU nurses do so much more than care for patients. They are there to comfort and support new parents during one of the most stressful periods of their lives. Working in the NICU ward has been one of the great pleasures of McGowan’s life. She looks forward to caring for more premature babies and their families in the months and years ahead.
The next time you see a colleague in the NICU, take a moment to thank them for all they do for young families.