Mom, daughter share same NICU nurse 28 years apart

Following nine miscarriages, family welcomes third baby and an unexpected reunion

Mom, daughter share same NICU nurse 28 years apart

Lucinda “Luci” Shirley Paige Folden is the newest addition to the Folden family of five in Aberdeen, South Dakota.

Luci is baby number three for her parents, Josie and Cody Folden, whose journey to her wasn’t an easy one.

“We had nine miscarriages before Luci,” Josie Folden told Sanford Health News. “We were told at one point that it just might not be in the cards for us.”

Nine heartbreaking losses before Christmas of 2022 when the Foldens found out they were pregnant again.

“Every week went on and we were more cautiously optimistic,” she said. “We loved the baby right away, obviously, and we’re just trying to guard our hearts at the same time. Weeks went on and she kept growing. … We eventually got to the point where we are today, where we did get to bring a third baby home.”

Toward the later stages of what had been a difficult pregnancy, Josie wasn’t feeling well, and doctors were concerned about preeclampsia and swelling around her brain. She was flown to Sioux Falls for more intensive care with Sanford Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

In August of 2023, Luci was born four weeks early.

“She was four pounds, five ounces,” Josie said. “She was perfectly healthy and did fantastic.

“We got moved up to postpartum and she started to fail her car seat tests because of some oxygen dips, and she was continuing to lose weight. She got just barely under four pounds and that’s an automatic admittance to the NICU.”

Their nearly week-long stay in the Boekelheide Neonatal Intensive Care Unit began, and that’s where this story continues.

Same NICU, same nurse

It was the very same NICU where Josie spent her first days of life 28 years ago.

“I was born with pneumonia, an underdeveloped diaphragm and I tried to stop breathing. So I was also flown here to Sioux Falls to Sanford and was in the NICU,” Josie said. “When (Luci) got admitted to the NICU, my parents and I were talking about just like what it was like for me when I was a patient in the NICU, what they experienced. I had so many questions.”

Through more conversation, Josie’s parents shared photos of their NICU care team back in 1995.

“Some of the nurses overheard my husband and I talking about me being a NICU baby here. And they said that there’s some nurses who have been here longer than the 28 years.”

One of those nurses is Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Deb Koens.

“The next time I came back into the room, they had this picture. Josie said, ‘I think we have a picture of you taking care of me as a baby.’ Sure enough, it was me.”

Koens is pictured with Josie Folden as a baby and her mother 28 years ago.

“It was hard to believe at first that they even kept the photo and that they took the time to find the photo. That was pretty special.”

It was a special, full-circle moment.

Something Koens said doesn’t happen often at work.

“To be able to know that I was fortunate to be able to care for both of them, it kind of makes you feel like this has been a long, successful career.”

More reasons to celebrate

“My parents were told multiple times that I wouldn’t survive,” Josie said. “I was baptized in the hospital. They never thought I was coming home. Deb was part of that care that made sure that I got to come home and then someday have three babies of my own. It was really cool to just sit down with Deb.

“Those NICU nurses and those NICU doctors do more than they ever know.”

Now, nearly three decades later, the two are still connected through social media where Josie shares pictures of Luci and her two older siblings, Addie and Ollie.

“Just to see her thrive, special holidays, their special events, it’s just been fun to see her grow and thrive in those pictures,” Koens said.

Nurses are important to the Folden family. Beyond the NICU, Koens isn’t their only connection to Sanford Health.

Dad Cody’s twin sister Ashley Baker is a nurse at Sanford Medical Center in Bismarck, North Dakota, who gave birth to Luci’s cousin Dax within 15 hours, leaving two Sanford Health families with a lot to celebrate.

“She was a few days late and Luci was a month early,” Josie added.

And the Foldens couldn’t be happier.

“It was worth trying for a third because here she is, one of my besties,” Cody Folden told Sanford Health News.

“The twin boy had a girl, and the twin girl had a boy,” Josie laughed. “So now we have these cousins who are basically twins in age who get to grow up together just like my husband and his twin, Ashley, got to grow up together, which I think is just super cool, too, and it all happened at Sanford.”

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Posted In Nursing and Nursing Support, Pregnancy, Women's