NEW YORK (CNN/WCBS) — Having a baby in the NICU is a difficult time for parents.
So a New Jersey man was delighted to find out that the NICU nurse caring for his newborn son is the same woman who took care of him 34 years ago.
When Renata Freydin and her fiance, David, gave birth to baby Zayne 10 weeks early, the new parents didn’t know what to expect.
“I like to tell parents, ‘I’m sorry you have to be here because it’s unsettling and nerve-wracking, but I’m happy that we’re here for you.'” said NICU nurse Lissa McGowan.
McGowan has been working in this neonatal intensive care unit at Saint Peters University hospital for 38 years. She’s been helping Zayne grow to a healthy weight in the NICU since his birth 3 weeks ago.
“Me and her kept going back and forth,” said father David Caldwell. “‘He looks like me.’ ‘No, he looks like me.’ So, I was just like I’m gonna go get my baby book and settle this.”
So dad found a picture of himself as a newborn, in the arms of the nurse who cared for him when he was born premature at the same hospital… 33 years ago.
“Instantly,” said Freydin. “Like right away, I saw the eyes and face and I was like this is absolutely her.”
Her hair was a bit darker back then, but nurse Lissa’s eyes haven’t aged.
“It just was fate,” said McGowan. “It just came full circle.”
The parents can’t know for sure how long their baby will have to stay in the hospital. They come here to see him, but still even those few hours apart can be heartbreaking.
“It’s the hardest thing I ever had to do to leave here without him,” said Freydin.
Knowing their newborn is with nurse Lissa gives them solace.
“His mom passed away in high school and she’s the one who told him about Lissa, saying she’s such an amazing nurse, this is the one who took care of you when we were in the hospital, so we keep thinking it’s just kinda her, saying we have this angel for you,” said Freydin.
Three decades later, this family is still safe in the same hands.