A father-to-be has been surprising his wife with elaborate date nights outside her suburban hospital window as she spends weeks on bed rest awaiting the birth of their baby boy.
Robert Conlin's wife Shona Moeller has been hospitalized at AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center in Hinsdale for seven weeks with no visitors allowed due to the coronavirus crisis.
The couple has already been forced to face more unexpected challenges during this pregnancy than they ever imagined.
On top of a global pandemic, the pair were given news no expectant parent wants to hear.
At 20 weeks, Moeller's water broke early and her baby was given a 1% chance of survival.
"I, of course, just like was inconsolable," Moeller said. "Just buried my head in my hands and Robert was enveloping me."
The couple was given their options: terminate the pregnancy or wait and see what happens.
"Those first few weeks we kind of just played a wait and see game," Moeller said.
As she returned home, Moeller said she began to grieve the loss of the child she hadn't even had a chance to meet. But a few days later, something in her changed.
"It just was like a calm that came over me that I was like, 'I think this baby might make it,'" she said. "It was so hard to think that because everything else was telling me otherwise."
Once she got to 23 weeks, Moeller knew she could be admitted to the hospital for treatments that could help the baby develop, despite the lack of fluid. But that meant a weeks-long hospital stay without her husband by her side as the coronavirus outbreak worsened.
"I didn't sleep for like three days before I left for the hospital because I knew I wouldn't be with him," she said. "I was just so terrified to be going through this experience without him... we knew that [the hospital] was the best place to be but it was just so hard saying goodbye."
And the journey wasn't easy for Conlin either.
"I think every time I've come here I've cried and it's for all the reasons," he said in a video shared with NBC 5. "I'm sad that this is happening and so grateful that it is. It's like the complete spectrum of emotion all the time and I'm just so grateful that I get to feel. I've spent a huge part of my life not expressing what's going on with me or feeling what's going on with me and this experience. ... There's no way that I couldn't feel what I'm feeling. I'm so grateful and I'm so filled with hope and I'm also so scared for my wife and my baby."
As he stared down several weeks away from his wife and unborn child, whom the couple named Forest, Conlin decided to surprise his wife with special dates outside her window.
First up, a flower delivery paired with food from her favorite restaurant. And outside, a candlelit table set for two.
"I lost it the first time he sent up flowers and some of my favorite foods and then I saw him with his table and flowers and candles... I just lost it," Moeller said.
Moeller and her husband are both relationship coaches and said they wanted to practice what they preach.
"We always work with our clients on having intentional relationships and like you're either growing your relationship, you are stagnant or you're killing it and we really wanted to make sure that throughout this experience that we were still growing our relationship and growing our love and just being very intentional," Moeller said. "And [Bob] took it to whole new level."
Aside from camping out outside her window with signs encouraging his wife and his baby to "grow Forest grow," Conlin has brought surprise guests and even maintained traditions.
Moeller is also a health teacher and at the end of every school year she breaks open a piñata filled with candy or some other treat set up by her husband. While she has continued teaching via e-learning from her hospital bed, her last day of school was Friday.
"He actually brought a piñata out front last Friday and he blindfolded himself and I had to guide him to the piñata and then he sent up tacos from our favorite place in the city," Moeller said. "That piñata date was just hysterical."
As of Wednesday, Moeller has been on bed rest for more than 60 days and she is 29 weeks along in her pregnancy. Her baby now has a 90% chance of surviving, though a team of medical experts is on standby to help as questions remain.
"We just don't know...when he's born, we don't know what his lungs are going to be like," Moeller said.
Though she has managed to continue some work from her bed, the couple said the financial struggles have made their situation even harder. Supporters have been fundraising to help them prepare for the expected financial toll.
"We are facing a pretty massive medical bill," Moeller told NBC 5.
But despite all the struggles, Moeller and Conlin said they choose to remain positive.
"There's so much darkness in this experience - or there could be - but he's been finding a way to create so much lightness and love in an experience that can be so different," Moeller said. "It's a choice."
And that choice has been inspiring many since news first broke of their journey.
"It feels quite incredible to be able to give hope to other people during this time that is so tough for so many," Moeller said.