Forty-two. That's the number of babies my mother delivered during her short career as a medical doctor during the 1950s. It was a time when women quit working once they got married, as my mother did before my older brother was born. But she was very proud of that number, and when I was still playing with dolls she used to tell me stories about those babies. She didn't protect me from the harsh realities of childbirth either. She told me about all the babies, including the ones who didn't survive or had to stay in the hospital living in incubators before they could be sent home.
Those stories captured my imagination, which is perhaps why I was fascinated to learn about neonatal nurse and inventor Sharon Rogone. Like my mother, Rogone put family before career. In her case, she came into nursing after raising her children. She earned degrees as a licensed practical nurse in 1976 and as a registered nurse in 1980 from San Bernardino Valley College. In the late 1980s, Rogone was working in the neonatal intensive care units (NICU) at St. Bernardine hospital and San Bernardino County Hospital in California.
Motivated by her experiences trying to save premature infants, Rogone began inventing and founded her own medical supply company, Small Beginnings, Inc., in 1997. Her first patent (5,613,502) was for the Bili-Bonnet, a phototherapy mask that protected the eyes of infants receiving light therapy for jaundice. Other inventions include the Bebeonker (an oral/nasal suction device) and Cuddle Buns diapers (to prevent hip dysplasia).