There’s nobody like Mom – and two young sisters in the U.K. adore theirs as their hero.
Video footage of Vaughan's heartwarming reunion with Bella, 9, and Hettie, 7, has since gone viral on Twitter, with 6.5 million views.
The single mom reunited with her kids on May 31, after leaving them in the care of their aunt Charlotte on March 28, news agency South West News Service (SWNS) reports.
In the quick clip, Vaughan snuck up behind the girls as they relaxed on a couch and asked what video they were watching.
"Mummy! Mummy!" the girls shrieked in surprise, as the family embraced with hugs and tears after more than two months apart.
Though it was incredibly difficult to leave the children for a short time, Vaughan said she felt her daughters would be safest in the care of her sister while she focused on fighting COVID-19 on the front lines.
“I brought them to my sister’s home because I wanted to keep them safe, because I work at the hospital and was exposing myself to the virus each day,” the Kings Lynn, Norfolk, England woman said. “But I also wanted to work more, and I couldn’t do more hours and keep the girls. It was a really difficult decision but it was a sacrifice that needed to be made.”
“Leaving them was very emotional as I didn’t know how long it would be until I saw them again – I never expected it to be nine weeks,” she continued. “But so many others have made the same sacrifices because we want to help people and fight this virus.”
Vaughan works as an operating department practitioner at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Norfolk, and upped her schedule to work over 50 hours a week to help fight the pandemic.
Working 12-hour shifts during the days and nights, the 43-year-old spent three weeks in the ICU before transferring to a COVID-19 emergency department to assist with airway management.
During the nine hectic weeks, Vaughan stayed in touch with her kids with frequent FaceTime video calls and text messages – but it just wasn’t the same as being together.
“It was dead quiet [at home,] no one running about or screaming or laughing, it was horrible,” the health care worker recalled. “I don’t know what to do without them singing and dancing.”
After nine weeks, Vaughan felt it was time to “put my girls first” once again.
“By the end, I had a countdown to when I’d be seeing my girls again and it was really the one thing keeping me going,” she said.
The hardworking woman and her sister decided to keep the reunion a surprise from Bella and Hettie in case something changed – and the plan paid off.
“We kept it a secret from them because I didn’t want to disappoint them in case something changed, but it was all worthwhile when I saw their reactions,” Vaughan said. “I just didn’t want to let them go and when they cried I just felt it in my heart. It was amazing.”
“I’m just glad to be with them now, I was so overwhelmed both physically and mentally, it was surreal,” she mused. “We haven’t stopped cuddling for a minute since I’ve been back,” adding that the being reunited with her kids feels like winning “a gold medal.”
The family is now happy at home with their 11-year-old Jack Russell Daschund cross Lotty, and the girls say they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m so happy to be back home. It makes me happy because I missed Mummy the most. And then Lotty,”’ Hettie explained.
“I think the National Health Service are really great people trying to save the world. Mummy did a brilliant job,” Bella echoed. “She had to be away to save people. She’s my hero.”