Man Proposes in NICU That Helped Nurse Preemie Daughter to Health: 'We're a Part of Their Family'
Teon Kennedy and Martine Drouillard were engaged in the NICU where their daughter Morgan has been since August
Teon Kennedy and his girlfriend Martine Drouillard have spent much of the past year watching over their baby girl in a New York NICU — so when Kennedy was preparing to pop the question, he knew just the special place.
With their 10-month-old daughter Morgan looking on, Kennedy proposed to his now-fiancée in the NewYork-Presbyterian Alexandra Cohen Hospital for Women and Newborns NICU on Feb. 11, bringing their journey full circle, the hospital said in a press release.
"Forever just started. We have a beautiful baby," Drouillard, 31, said in a statement. "We were always going to plan a future and a family for us, but now it's official."
Kennedy, also 31, had plans to propose to Drouillard at her baby shower last spring. But just as the COVID-19 pandemic began wreaking havoc on their city, the couple was thrown another curveball: Drouillard was diagnosed with severe preeclampsia, and Morgan would have to be born an extremely preterm infant.
The 1.27-lb. little girl came into the world on April 12 at 25 weeks, and as she underwent several procedures on her brain and lungs, Kennedy realized his proposal would have to wait.
She ended up at her current hospital in August, and has been nicknamed "Queen of the NICU," according to the release.
"She's come so far," Drouillard said. "Morgan is so loved here. All the love that I'm getting here is a result of her. She's made us stronger together and as individuals."
With all the time she's spent in the NICU, Kennedy and Drouillard have grown close to its staffers — so when Kennedy finally popped the question, he knew he wanted them to be involved, too.
"It's something that had been on my mind for so long," he said in a statement. "I just never had the right moment to make it happen, but our daughter has made tremendous progress at NewYork-Presbyterian. And the team here, they treat us like family, so this was the best place to make this happen."
As he started planning, he got the NICU team members in on the fun, and they helped him buy decorations, organize a socially distanced celebration and lay out a red carpet complete with flower petals.
Kennedy also wrote a love letter for Drouillard that staffers took turns reading from as she walked down the red carpet and into Morgan's room, where the baby was waiting in a special dress that read "Mommy, Will You Marry Daddy?" and a "Maid of Honor" sash.
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When Drouillard finally made it, Kennedy was waiting on one knee with two different rings, so that his soon-to-be-bride could pick which one she liked best.
"I'm happy, I'm excited, I'm surprised, I'm overwhelmed," she said. "I don't even know how to describe the feeling."
Samantha Lentin, a child life specialist at the hospital, said in the release that helping Kennedy propose "brought tears to everyone's eyes."
"It really meant that we're a part of their family," she said. "We've been through it all with them, and he trusted us. We wanted to be able to build these memories with them and make it as amazing as we could for them."
Morgan does not yet have a discharge date as doctors are still working on strengthening her lungs, but her proud parents said they plan to wait to tie the knot until she can participate in the ceremony, Good Morning America reported.