CHICAGO, Illinois - Sometimes life comes at you with multiple unexpected blows, but that has not stopped Bob Conlin and his wife, Shona Moeller, from making the most of what they’ve been given.
Shona has been in the hospital for 11 weeks on bedrest as she and her husband await the birth of their first child. They are expecting a boy who they have named Forest.
While the news of expecting their first child together was happy, the journey to get to where they are now was tough.
On March 23, just before the COVID-19 pandemic escalated, Bob and Shona were getting the nursery ready for their baby-to-be when her water broke unexpectedly.
Shona was only five months pregnant.
“We were devastated,” Bob said. “We were basically told to prepare to lose the baby.”
Bob immediately took his wife to AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center in Hinsdale, Illinois where doctors told the family the terrible news and sent them back home to wait for the worst.
“It was like waiting for someone that we loved to die right in front of us,” Bob said.
But days turned into weeks and by week 23, their baby was still fighting.
Doctors considered the baby viable at that point, according to Bob, and admitted Shona to the hospital on April 13, where she was put on bedrest until their baby could be born safely.
Shona was admitted to the hospital at the height of the pandemic, so Bob was not allowed to be with her during the vulnerable time.
“We had been together for three weeks going through this devastating circumstance together,” Bob said. “It was heartbreaking to not be able to be by her side and my baby’s side too.”
Shona was in an interior room with no view of the outside, but was soon moved to an exterior room with a window so she could enjoy looking at nature, according to Bob.
Both figured out pretty quickly that if Bob went to a certain location outside the building, Shona could see her husband 40 feet below, which beats FaceTime or a Zoom call.
“Obviously, we weren’t able to touch each other but to be able to see her in 3D and not on a screen was comforting for the both of us,” Bob said.
That’s when both Shona and Bob decided to start making signs.
“I had this instinct that I had to care for my wife as much as I could during this experience,” Bob said. “I had to make her fee special and feel loved and have some sense of normalcy.”
They had the occasional FaceTime and Zoom “date night” on a weekly basis and Bob would send Shona treats from time to time, but Bob wanted to do more.
So he asked his wife out on a date, but he had a surprise up his sleeve.“I asked her, ‘How about Friday at 6? I’ll call you and we’ll have dinner,’” Bob said. So at 6 p.m. on April 24, Bob had Shona’s favorite restaurant deliver food to her hospital room.
“I then ran and set up a table in front of her window with a rose and candles,” Bob said. “She wasn’t expecting that. I said, ‘Why don’t you look out your window?’ She was surprised.”
From then on, the pair have had weekly dates and Bob is always on time. Bob and Shona may set “relationship goals” for many, which makes sense, since both are relationship coaches.
Bob had the chance to physically visit his wife once since she was admitted to the hospital.
“These nurses have been angels,” Bob said. “They’ve been taking care of her (Shona) emotional and physical health. They saw she needed to be with me and see her husband, so they were able to arrange for me to come in for a short visit. And it’s so funny the way all of the timing worked out. I got the tests (negative) results (for COVOD-19) Sunday morning and that happened to be Mother’s Day. So, getting to go see my wife on her first Mother’s Day in the hospital was just amazing. We just hugged and cried and embraced each other and I think we even just fell asleep, holding each other for 20 minutes.”
Shona has another five weeks left to go before it’s safe to give birth to their son, according to Bob.
“She’s such a strong, brilliant, amazing and powerful woman,” Bob said of his wife. “This is a testament to her resilience.”
“We had to process through our grief but this baby kept fighting,” Bob added. “He’s teaching us so much about love and trust and courage and being scared but doing it anyway. I think the other thing too, is he’s just been such a beacon of hope for so many. Everyone is struggling with something. Everyone has something they’re struggling with and I feel he’s showing us we can keep fighting.”
A friend of the family has also set up a GoFundMe for Bob and Shona to help with medical expenses so the family can concentrate on the baby’s health once he is born.