GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Women’s Hospital received word to get ready for an abandoned baby.
“I joined the nurses who were preparing for the baby and started to worry about what I was going to encounter,” Cathryn Conchar-Mabe said.
Conchar-Mabe is a former neonatal nurse practitioner at Women’s Hospital.
Some of the things she was concerned about included whether the baby would be full-term or premature and if the baby was cold.
Conchar-Mabe still remembers the general reaction among her colleagues.
“Absolutely shocking. Absolutely shocking,” she said. “We were all very dedicated to caring for babies and trying to get them healthy and home to their parents, so it was certainly a different situation.”
Fortunately, the baby arrived at the hospital alive.
Conchar-Mabe remembers doing a physical on her, and from that perspective, everything appeared to look good.
The baby weighed 6 pounds, 13 ounces.
According to the doctor who spoke to the press at the time, the baby experienced moderate to severe hypothermia.
It was a serious situation.
“Yes it is. Definitely. It slows down the metabolic rate. The baby can stop breathing. It can slow down the heart rate. We've had other cold babies come in and you listen to them and the heart rate is just really low,” Conchar-Mabe said.
Out of that great concern also came the feeling that everybody was working toward a common goal.
“We all wanted to save this baby,” Conchar-Mabe said.
And not just medically.
At this time, the baby was simply known as “Baby Doe.”
The nurses gave her the name Caroline.
Previous news reports refer to the apartment complex where the baby was found as Hunter’s Glen Apartments.
The current leasing office tells us the apartment complex was called Carolina Circle Apartments in 1999.
It appears the nurses gave her that name because that’s the name they had for the apartment complex or because she was found in an area near Carolina Circle Mall.
Rebecca Miles, a volunteer cuddler or NICU Nanny as it’s now called, was determined that Caroline would feel a warm embrace.
“Well I knew she was alone and that's who I'm there to hold, the babys who need holding. And any baby that doesn't have family, well that's who the cuddlers are going after,” she said.
Miles still has fond memories of holding baby Caroline.
“She made eye contact. She was a baby who looked at you and made eye contact and you could tell she was so smart and she was figuring things out, and she just had so much personality right there,” she said.
Even though no family came to claim Caroline, she did have at least one visitor while she was in the hospital – Detective Ruth Hines with the Greensboro Police Department.
“I would go there and check on her and make sure she was OK. She did good. She did really well,” she said.
However, the baby’s medical record still had a lot of missing information.
Time of birth – “unknown.”
Under a heading “Characteristics of Biological Parent” – there appears to be an "x" next to "birth mother."
There is nothing written next to "birth father."
Hines was working hard to fill-in those blanks.
This is part of our series on Baby Doe.
Subscribe to “What Happened to Baby Doe?” wherever you get your podcasts, or you can click on the podcast player below to listen to the trailer.
The first episode will be available June 13.