Mom Discovers Preemie’s Loving NICU Nurse Is Same Woman Who Cared for Her Fiancé

Renata Freydin

Lissa McGowan with David Caldwell and his son
Renata Freydin

Renata Freydin had a hunch that she just couldn't shake. Staring at a photo of her fiancé -- taken more than three decades ago, when he was just an infant in the NICU ward -- Freydin fixed her eyes on the smiling woman who was holding him. She looked familiar, she thought. In fact, she looked exactly like another nurse Freydin knew, who was caring for her own newborn son at Saint Peter's University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey. As it turned out, her hunch was right on the money.

  • The new mom's son, Zayne Alexander Caldwell, was born 10 weeks early on January 30.

    Because of his early arrival, the little guy has been recuperating in the NICU ward at Saint Peter's, where Freydin says he's been getting expert care from some of the best NICU nurses around.

    "NICU nurses are a special breed," she tells CafeMom. "They are all so caring and loving. They care for your baby as if it was their own. They do not get enough recognition."

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  • It was while she was recently flipping through her fiancé's baby book that a certain photo caught her eye.

    "I got the baby book out because I wanted to compare photos of me and Zayne as babies and in the NICU," Freydin's fiancé, David Caldwell, told Good Morning America this week. 

    Coincidentally, David was born six weeks early himself back in 1986, which is what led to his own stay in the NICU at the very same hospital. Now, he is a 33-year-old photographer in addition to being a proud first-time father.

  • Right away, Freydin recognized the woman.

    Renata Freydin

    “I knew that lady!!,” the mom later wrote in a now-viral Facebook post Saturday.

    She turned to David and immediately asked him who the woman in the photo was.

    "He confirmed that she was the nurse who took care of him during his stay in the NICU, and his mom loved her so much that she needed a photo of the two of them on the day he was discharged," Freydin shared. "The reason I know her is because I swore she was the nurse that had been taking care of our baby boy for the past three days!" 

    When she tried to tell him that the woman in the photo was the same one caring for their son every day since his birth, however, David wasn't so sure.

    "David didn't believe me," Freydin shared. 

  • "I practically yelled at him because I was so excited," she tells CafeMom. "And he was so startled that it took him a minute to answer."

    "It's not her!" David told her -- to which she replied, "I promise you, it's her!!"

    After bringing the photo back to the hospital -- where three other nurses confirmed it was the same nurse, David finally believed it.

  • It turns out, the mystery nurse was Lissa McGowan, who has been dutifully working at the hospital for decades.

    Lissa McGowan and Zayne
    Renata Freydin

    On February 14, the couple returned to visit their son in the NICU and to ask McGowan to re-create the photo with their own son. 

    She more than happily obliged.

    "The past 2 weeks have been filled with worries and uncertainty but we can breathe easy knowing my lil nuggets nurse is the same one that helped the man I love when he was in the same situation," the new mom wrote.

  • Since posting the story on Facebook, it's been shared more than 23K times and gathered thousands of comments from all over the world.

    David Caldwell, son, and Lissa McGowan
    Renata Freydin

    "Omg thats so sweet!" wrote one woman. "Little baby look like his daddy too!"

    "What a beautiful story!" wrote someone else. "I would love to see and talk with my NICU nurses that took care of my three boys! How very special!"

  • Freydin says she's shocked by how quickly the post has been shared in just a few short days.

    "I honestly never thought this would go viral," she tells CafeMom. "I thought maybe it might get a little attention, but never imagined it would blow up as fast as it did!"

    Mostly, though, she's just happy to report that little Zane is doing OK. Actually, he's doing more than just OK.

    "Zayne is doing so amazing!" Freydin says. "He is growing quickly and getting better day by day! I am honestly hoping for him to be discharged by late next week. (That's just a few days before the baby shower, which is on March 1!)

    As for McGowan and all her fellow NICU nurses? The new mom hopes they know that they're loved and appreciated beyond measure.

    "I love every one of our nurses at the hospital and hope to stay friends with many of them once we leave!" Freydin shared.