Meet Kris and Landry. Kris and his wife Marie had a precious 29 weeker named Landry. Soon after Marie gave birth, she passed away. Despite this devastating loss, Kris and Landry are doing well. With the support of friends and family, he is raising Landry in a way he hopes would make Marie happy. Kris is an amazing father and Landry is crushing those post-NICU milestones. You deserve the best Father’s Day ever Kris!
Let’s start from the beginning, can you tell us when you learned Marie was pregnant? How did she tell you, and what was your initial reaction?
We were home on a Saturday and she got up early that morning, which made me wonder why she was up so early? I was still asleep and she woke me up to tell me the good news. It was the best surprise she could ever give me. Marie wanted more than anything to be a mom and we were ecstatic that she was pregnant.
When did you learn that things in the pregnancy were not going perfectly? When did you learn you would have to spend time in the NICU?
Marie’s pregnancy went really well, there weren’t any indications that she would deliver so early until the night before Landry was born. Marie said that she had some cramps that night. We called her doctor and let them know what was happening and they didn’t think there was anything to be alarmed about but said to call back if anything changed. I woke up just before 5am and asked Marie how she was feeling. She said she was still having cramps. She didn’t want to call her Dr. until the office opened at 8am. I was able to get her to call just to be sure everything still sounded ok. This time they wanted us to go ahead and come in to have Marie checked out. I thought we might be told that Marie would be put on bed rest or something, we had no idea we would have a baby a short time later.
Can you share what you are comfortable with about the delivery of Landry?
We arrived at the hospital just before 6am after not knowing exactly where to go. We were scheduled to have a tour of the hospital that night. Marie never indicated that she was having serious labor pains until we walked into the hospital. She didn’t want to take a wheelchair to the 8th floor, she walked on her own. The Dr. indicated that Marie’s water broke and we would be having a baby later in the day. They were going to give Marie Magnesium to try and slow everything down and help Landry’s lungs develop. They didn’t have time to give her the shot. Marie had Landry less than an hour after getting to the hospital. We didn’t have time to be scared about having a baby at 29 weeks, she was born that fast. Landry was born on Nov. 15th. She weighed 2lbs. 11oz. and was 15in long. Never in my life have I been so proud of Marie and how composed she was in handling everything that day, and in her stay at the hospital.
Once she was delivered did you know how serious it was or how long you would be in the NICU?
We knew it was serious and we were scared for Landry. We were trying to not look too far ahead and help each other get through whatever was going to happen next. We were told that Landry would probably be in the NICU until some time around Marie’s due date of January 31st. Landry was such a fighter, she never had a surgery or any significant procedure while in the NICU. She went home on Jan. 4th.
Having a baby in the NICU is very hard by itself, but shortly after Landry was born you also lost your wife, Marie. Is there anything that you would like to or feel comfortable sharing after her loss? How did you get through everything, were you able to have a large support system?
Everything happened with Marie the night we came home from the hospital. I had Landry in the NICU at one hospital and Marie was in ICU in another hospital. Marie was my best friend and I knew nothing about caring for a child, not to mention a preemie. I had to split time between seeing Landry and Marie. I got through this by faith, family(mine and Marie’s), and an incredible group of friends that rallied to my side. There is no way I could have gotten to this point alone. I’m forever grateful for “Team Landry”. My parents have put their lives on hold to help me. Marie’s family have come from Louisiana, Maryland, and Rhode Island to help. My niece, Landry’s Godmother, came and stayed with me for a month last Summer. My friends never left my side when I needed them most. I am forever grateful for all the support I have received.
Tell us about the best people on earth, your NICU nurses.
They are incredibly special people. They went out of their way to not only help Landry, but helped me get through the most difficult time in my life. I consider them close friends and have been able to see some of them since leaving the NICU.
What was it like having Landry home the first night?
I was thrilled that she was home but it was scary to not have Landry’s doctors and nurses right there. I had my Mom and Marie’s sister Holly there with me. Landry wasn’t even 5 lbs and even though the sounds of the NICU are scary at first, you come to rely on the monitors probably a little too much to let you know everything is ok. Landry was the only one that slept well that night.
Are you able to share a lot about Marie with Landry yet? Does she look at a lot of pictures?
Landry is 18 months old now and I have pictures of Marie around the house and Landry loves to look at pictures. Marie’s picture is on Landry’s chest of drawers and she has started saying Mama every now and then. Even though Landry is too young to understand, I tell her about Marie everyday. The most important thing for me, is to raise Landry in a way that would make Marie happy.
Did you have a lot of fears or anxieties regarding germs once you brought her home?
We were washing our hands nonstop. I think we even had people take their shoes off when they came in for a couple of weeks. We kept Landry isolated to family early on because it was January and we did not want her to get RSV or the flu.
What does a typical day with Landry look like now?
She gets up at 7:30 and we eat and then its off to the races. During the week she stays with my stepsister during the day. Landry is walking now and she keeps us chasing after her. She still takes two naps a day — she is a great sleeper! She loves her books and bath time. Some nights she is up for being rocked to bed, other nights she puts herself to sleep.
What advice would you give another family going through the NICU, or dealing with the loss of a spouse? Anything that really stands out to you that helped?
Like I said, NICU is kind of scary at first, especially when you end up there unexpectedly. Lean on your Primaries, they know everything there is to know about your baby and for me, they kept me going. I found it helpful to talk with the other families that were in the NICU too. I became very close with two families that were in the NICU. We were fortunate enough to have a mother donate breast milk for Landry. That was just amazing! I never felt like I was in it alone. The NICU doctors and nurses, my family, friends, and NICU families were always there to support me.