We are constantly bombarded with frightening or heartbreaking news stories. In contrast, every now and then, we hear about a lovely story with a happy ending. In this story, an Indianapolis nurse made a difference in the lives of a teen mother and her three new babies.Katrina Mullen is an Indianapolis nurse who has spent over 20 years working in the NICU. She also happened to be a teen mother herself.
As a result, when Shariya Small arrived at the hospital at the age of 14, she and Mullen quickly became friends. The situation was already complicated because Small was so young, but it became even more complicated when she went into premature labor. The triplets, two girls and a boy, weighed less than two pounds each when they were born. The babies spent the next four months in the NICU in incubators.
That’s when the Indianapolis nurse became close to Small and the babies. “If you need anything, I will be there for you,” Mullen told Scrubs Magazine. “I immediately thought that I needed to give her a shoulder to lean on.” The Indianapolis nurse and the new mom exchanged phone numbers after the babies were discharged from the hospital. They kept in touch via Facetime or in person over the next few months.
Mullen not only worked in medicine for over 20 years, but she was also a mother of five children. As a result, she felt a connection with Small and had plenty of advice for the young teen mom. Mullen eventually started doing nightly feedings so Small could sleep. Although she adores her new babies, three new babies would be difficult for anyone, let alone a single teen parent.The Indianapolis nurse stepped up to assist the four-person family.
“I’d go sit in her office and talk about pretty much anything,” Small explained. “I would tell her some of my secrets, and she would tell me about her experiences as a teen mother.” That was one of the topics we discussed while I was in the hospital.”Small lived in Kokomo, Indiana, about an hour’s drive from Mullen’s house in Brownsburg. Despite the distance, the Indianapolis nurse remained a regular part of the new family’s lives.
She would even bring gifts for the babies. In fact, the two mothers had grown so close and involved in each other’s lives that people at the hospital joked about Small being Mullen’s “adopted daughter.” That running joke, unbeknownst to the Indianapolis nurse and her family at the time, would soon become a reality.When the baby boy had to be taken back to the hospital for a few days, tragedy struck.
He was able to return home after recovering. Meanwhile, Small would need someone to stay at home with the girls, and Mullen stepped up, saying it was “no big deal.” Unfortunately, the baby’s health scare prompted a CPS investigation, and the social worker determined that all three babies would have to be placed in foster care. Panic set in, and Small called the Indianapolis nurse, who came to her aid once more.
Mullen applied to adopt Small and her three babies and was approved, despite the fact that three of her five children remained at home. “As a nurse, I knew there wouldn’t be many foster homes willing to take a teen mother with three children… I didn’t want to separate them. “I wanted them to stay together,” explained the Indianapolis nurse.
The Indianapolis nurse has even started a GoFundMe page with the goal of raising $3,000 in order to provide “a financial cushion” for the new family. Fortunately, total donations exceeded the original goal, and the family is working together to figure it out. “Everyone told me I wouldn’t finish school, that I wouldn’t achieve my goals,” Small, now 15, said. “But now I’m graduating as a junior and have been accepted into two colleges with academic scholarships.”
The help she’s received from Mullen has been life-changing and invaluable to Small’s now brighter future. Meanwhile, Mullen appears exhausted but overjoyed with the new family’s arrangement. “It’s been fantastic. Stressful? Yes. Yes, I had sleepless nights. But is it worthwhile?” She screamed. According to the Child Welfare website, nearly 400,000 children are in foster care and looking for permanent homes.
A staggering 80% of those children are estimated to have mental health issues, with a stress level five times that of the average person. With so many children in need of loving homes, Small and her babies were truly blessed to be welcomed home by the Indianapolis nurse and her family. This article was originally published on Secret Life of Mom and is reprinted here with permission.