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Surprise Engagement Brings Joy to LVH–Muhlenberg NICU

Baby Axton and his NICU team help create special marriage proposal moment for parents

Baby Axton and his NICU team help create special marriage proposal moment for parents

Alesha Thatcher, 25, of Walnutport, gave birth to her first baby, Axton Ray Pagan, Sunday, June 27. Her boyfriend, Ricky Pagan, was by her side. At 39 weeks, she was induced at Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Muhlenberg. But the happiest moment of their lives quickly turned into the scariest, when baby Axton was rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to be cared for and monitored after he was delivered with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck.

Scared, worried and recovering from labor, Alesha was distraught. But Axton was making a quick recovery. The following day, Axton’s health had greatly improved.

“He was looking a lot better. There was so much going on,” says Alesha.

Special surprise in the works

But Ricky had something planned that would bring light to the darkness: He planned to propose to Alesha. Before Axton’s birth, he had purchased a onesie from Amazon that says, “Mommy, will you marry my Daddy?” Ricky enlisted the NICU nursing staff to help him with the special proposal.

“Ricky approached nurse Steph about helping to arrange the proposal. He showed the staff the onesie and told them what he was planning,” says Charlene M. Tanis, MSN, RN, director of the Family Birth and Newborn Center at LVH–Muhlenberg. “With the help of the respiratory therapist, Courtney, and NICU nurses Steph and Marisa, they were able to get baby Axton ready to surprise Mom with the onesie and proposal!”

In 10 minutes, the team got the room and Axton ready for Alesha to come see him, under the guise of a diaper change.

With the help of the respiratory therapist and NICU nurses, they were able to get baby Axton ready to surprise Mom with the onesie and proposal.

That magic moment

“We told Alesha, ‘Oh good, you’re just in time! We were just about to go in and do his care. If you want to change his diaper quickly, you can,’ ” says Tanis. “Alesha unwrapped him and noticed the bottom of the onesie. She said, ‘Oh that's a cute onesie! What does it say?’”

Once Alesha realized it was a proposal, she was overwhelmed with emotion.

“It said, ‘Mommy, will you marry my Daddy?’ I turned around and started crying, and Ricky was down on one knee,” says Alesha.

And Axton’s care team was equally teary eyed.

With the support of their care team at LVH-Muhlenberg, Ricky Pagan proposed to girlfriend Alesha Thatcher in the NICU.
The happy couple poses with their new baby boy and the respiratory therapists and NICU nurses who helped create and capture this magical moment.

Sharing a wonderful memory

“It was a really neat moment to witness, and you could feel the genuine emotions from Ricky and Alesha,” says Tanis. “Nurse Steph said, ‘It was awesome to see and so much fun to be a part of. Obviously, we have some sad days in the NICU, so being able to witness and participate in this was so joyous for all of us. I think a few of us were teary eyed.’”

After the engagement, the nursing team decorated Axton’s room with rings and other decorations to celebrate. And on Thursday, July 1, he was able to go home.

“He is such a good baby. He's our little miracle,” says Alesha.

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