The Short of It
A New Mexico nurse, who was adopted herself, adopts a baby she cared for in the NICU.
Despite working in the pediatric ICU with numerous sick babies, Amber Boyd says she felt a special maternal connection with Nicole, who was a 3-month-old preemie when they met.
Nicole suffers from omphalocele, which is a rare condition where a hole in the abdominal wall causes organs to develop outside of the body. That means her intestine, liver, gall bladder, and spleen grew in a sack on the outside of her tiny belly. She was unable to breathe without a ventilator; she couldn't eat normally; and she was unable to hit simple baby milestones, like rolling over.
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But her situation was even more heartbreaking: Nicole's mother lost her parental rights, so she had become a ward of the state. But she wasn't alone during her 18 long months in the ICU. During that time Boyd told Today, "I was her primary nurse and formed that bond. She is just a fighter. ... She is just a great kid."
Once her condition improved after many surgeries and treatments, case workers began to consider Nicole's options after discharge. Where would she live? Who would care for her? An aunt of Nicole's who was caring for her healthy twin couldn't adopt another baby, and a potential foster family didn't work out. That's when Boyd discussed the idea of fostering the baby with her husband, Taylor.
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"The only part that kind of scared me [was] making sure I learned all the medical stuff. I wanted to make sure I didn't make her situation worse," Taylor admits.
But instead, under the Boyds' care, the little girl has flourished. The now 3-year-old, who had an operation to close up her belly, is walking on her own, and when her tracheostomy and G-tube are removed, doctors expect she will talk and eat like a normal toddler.
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Just this past February, the Boyds officially adopted the baby they fell in love with in the ICU. They know there are challenges ahead with Nicole's care, but her new dad says, "I can't imagine a time without her. We have only had her for a short amount of time, [but] she has become a huge part of the family."
Clearly, Nicole is not the only lucky one here. Her spirit and perseverance have deeply touched her parents and given them just as much happiness as she's given them.