A San Antonio couple lost a baby before having their son, with the same nurse by their side

“I never expected to have that connection,” labor and delivery nurse describes how strangers became family

SAN ANTONIO – A life-changing, full-circle experience with a patient led a local labor and delivery nurse to write about it for National Nurses Week this month in the Methodist Health System magazine.

The story, now touching the hearts of people across San Antonio, shows how important a nurse can be in a patient’s life.

“Being a parent, wow. It’s the most rewarding, exhausting job there is,” said Devan Aguilar-Mock.

Devan and her partner Shelton Aguilar-Mock have an adorable 1-year-old son Knox, but he’s not the only child in their family.

“We got pregnant for the first time with an IUI and we were over the moon ecstatic,” Devan said.

Around 18 weeks, a scan showed Devan had no amniotic fluid and by 19 weeks she had an infection.

They had to deliver a baby they knew had not survived.

“This was the first time I had to interact with somebody who had lost a baby that wasn’t a friend or somebody that I knew. It was just such a pivotal moment for me as a nurse,” said Caylene Cortes.

Caylene was Devan and Shelton’s labor and delivery nurse at Methodist Hospital in May of 2020. With the pandemic prohibiting family to visit, she became their support system.

“I walked in and she had a huge Harry Potter blanket and I remember being so relieved thinking, ‘Okay we can at least talk about something,’ because what do you say to somebody that just lost this baby they wanted so bad?” Caylene said. “Harry Potter is my jam, so I showed her my Deathly Hallows tattoo.”

After a grueling, emotional 24-hours, Caylene helped deliver their baby girl.

“Our daughter’s name is Polly,” Devan said.

Caylene kept Devan and Shelton company as they spent time holding Polly, trying to pack in what Devan called a “lifetime of memories.”

“I just wanted to do something special for them because we made this connection, so I just remembered that quote from Harry Potter,” Caylene said.

Caylene went to the computer and printed out the quote: “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

“I did handprints and footprints on there. To me it was just a small gesture,” Caylene said.

To Devan and Shelton, however, it was so much more.

“That’s actually how we announced the birth of her was taking a picture of that,” Devan said.

“She has it framed on her mantle and she shows everybody, that and my picture, and they tell everybody about me,” Caylene said. “It’s just so special.”

Fast forward 10 months -- Devan was pregnant with Knox and was having a pre-term labor scare at 30 weeks.

“We walked in and I was like, ‘Is there a nurse who works here named Caylene?’” Devan said. “Then all of a sudden the door bursts open and Caylene is like ‘Oh my gosh!’ And we just start crying together.”

Caylene helped deliver Knox, who was healthy but had to be rushed to the NICU for precaution.

“I was worried leaving [Devan] and following him, but I knew she had Caylene to watch over her,” Shelton said.

It was a full-circle experience showing the true power of nursing and the ripple effect of making genuine human connections. Now, reunions are common and they don’t foresee that stopping.

“I never expected to have that connection in nursing,” Caylene said.

Devan and Shelton want people to know it’s okay to talk about the grief of losing a child.

They incorporate Polly into their lives as much as possible.

Polly was born during Nurses Week, so on her birthday every year, they deliver gifts to nurses at the hospital to show gratitude for the difficult, life-changing work they do every day.

About the Author:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.