“I knew it would be impossible to find a foster home that would take all four of them. No one was going to take a teen mom and her preemie triplets.”
Having your first baby is a scary experience. Everything is new—you've quite literally never done this before—not to mention an entire human is going to be removed from your body one way or another. Childbirth, no matter how your baby leaves your body, is not for the weak. But imagine giving birth alone to not just one baby, but three, all at the same time. Then imagine doing that feat at the age of 14.
Shariya Small experienced that scenario in a hospital in Indiana, and her nurse Katrina Mullen took note. Small's babies were premature, born at just 26 weeks, when the average gestation for triplets is 33 weeks, according to ReproductiveFacts.org. Due to their early birth, the babies, Serenitee, Samari and Sarayah, had to stay in the NICU at Community Hospital North in Indianapolis for more than five months, according to Today.com.
During their time in the NICU, Mullen noticed the young mom visited her babies alone, not appearing to have much of a support system. “She’d be there alone for days at a time sitting at her babies’ bedside,” Mullen told Today.com.
The pair got to know each other over the months that the babies were in the hospital, but Small continued to be reluctant to open up about her family life. That changed after she found out that Mullen had her first child at 16 and had given it up for adoption. Their experiences bonded the two moms, and Mullen began helping to care for the babies and Small by giving her advice and showing her how to properly care for the infants.
Eventually, Mullen gave Small her phone number before the babies were discharged from the hospital. It quickly became apparent that Small did not have a support system, as she called Mullen often asking for advice. Out of concern, the nurse went to visit Small an hour away, where she was living with a family member.
The condition of the home was concerning enough, but Mullen became even more worried when she saw how thin Small's son Samari was. It turns out he had to be admitted to the hospital, which prompted a visit from Child Protective Services, who determined that Small and her three infants would need to enter foster care. She gave the social worker Mullen's information and things began to fall into place.
Listen to Small and Mullen explain their unique story below:
This article originally appeared on 4.10.23
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