Kokomo, IN

Inspiring Story of NICU Nurse Adopts Premature Triplets After Bonding with Struggling Teen Mom

Akhil A Pillai

Supporting and caring for others is a fundamental aspect of being a compassionate and empathetic person. Whether through small gestures of kindness or more significant acts of generosity, we can make a difference in someone's life by offering our support and care.

Shariya Small, a 14-year-old mother of premature triplets, struggled to adjust to the challenges of motherhood. She resented the constant need to wake up at all hours of the night to feed and change her babies, and the fact that all three of her children were born prematurely at 26 weeks, weighing less than two pounds each, only complicated matters. Her babies spent the first four months of their lives in incubators at the neo-intensive care unit, leaving Small feeling overwhelmed and underprepared.

Fortunately, a nurse named Katrina Mullen was assigned to look after Small’s children at the hospital. Mullen quickly developed a bond with Small and offered to be there for her whenever she needed support. Mullen, who has been a NICU nurse for 23 years and has five children of her own, was able to provide Small with advice and guidance on how to navigate the challenges of motherhood. She showed Small how to attach her son’s feeding tube and even offered to feed the triplets at night so Small could get some sleep.

Small quickly became dependent on Mullen and they began to meet regularly to talk about life and parenting. Mullen would drive two hours round trip from her home in Brownsburg to Small’s home in Kokomo just to see her and the babies for an hour. She also sent gifts to Small’s home, including sleepers and chairs for the babies.

Their relationship grew stronger, and Small came to rely on Mullen for emotional support as well. Mullen became known as Small’s surrogate mother around the hospital, and people would ask her how her “adopted daughter” was doing. When Small had to bring her son back to the hospital, Mullen agreed to watch the two girls while she was away.

However, when the Indiana Department of Child Services investigated the living situation inside Small’s home, they determined that all three of her children needed to be in foster care. In a state of panic, Small called Mullen, who quickly agreed to adopt not just Small but all three of her children. She didn’t want them to be separated, and as a nurse, she knew that there would not be many foster homes that would take a teen mother with three kids.

Moving into the Mullen house was an adjustment for everyone involved, but they made it work. Mullen changed her schedule to make sure she could care for the babies, and Small went back to school to finish her education. Despite the challenges, Small persevered and was able to graduate as a junior and was even accepted into two colleges with academic scholarships. Her dream is to become a nurse just like her mother.

Mullen couldn’t be prouder of Small and her accomplishments. Though the journey was stressful and filled with sleepless nights, it was all worth it in the end. The bond between Small and Mullen is a real example to the power of human connection and the difference that one person can make in the life of another.

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I have done Masters in History. I write interesting historical and real life stories.


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