Lissa McGowan has been working as a nurse at Saint Peter’s University Hospital for over 40 years. Throughout that time she has tended to thousands of fragile preemies in the NICU department, seeing them go from strength to strength and offering much-needed comfort to their anxious parents along the way.
Recently, the dedicated healthcare worker had the opportunity to offer her nursing skills to little Zayne Alexander Caldwell, who was born 10 weeks prematurely, while reassuring his parents David Caldwell and Renata Freydin. The only difference with this set of circumstances is that McGowan had once held baby Zayne’s daddy in her arms, too!
Nearly 34 years ago, when Caldwell’s mom gave birth prematurely, her son was taken to the NICU. There he was cared for by young nurse McGowan. At the time, she offered much support to Caldwell’s mom and, as a result, that new mom took a photo of the nurse holding her baby boy.
A few decades later, seeing his son’s situation inspired Caldwell to dig out his own baby book and in it was that same photo taken all those years ago, of a baby David with nurse McGowan. Zayne’s mom, Renata Freydin, looked at the photo and straight away recognized the woman in the post as the same nurse who’d been looking after her baby boy for the last three days. She shared the happy news on her Facebook account.
The new parents took the photo into the hospital where it was confirmed that the same nurse had tended to both father and son. “I have never had this happen before,” McGowan shared with Good Morning America. “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.”
David Caldwell can remember his mom talking about the photo and saying: “Oh this woman was so nice. She was so great. She just reassured me every day that you would be fine.” And 34 years later, that nurse was able to see this with her own eyes.
Yet for the new dad, the fact that McGowan is there to look after his son is even more meaningful. With his mom passing away in 2004, he believes “this happening is like a way of telling me that my mom is looking over me and my baby.”
For Freydin, seeing the woman who cared for her partner so beautifully now care for their son is a huge sense of relief. “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,” she wrote.
With a new father-son snap to add to the album — with dad holding the 34-year-old picture in his hands, the couple can look to an exciting future with their little bundle. Meanwhile McGowan will no doubt continue offering her care to others in need.
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