An Illinois husband touched hearts around the country for staging dates nights outside his pregnant wife’s hospital window while she was on bed rest — and now he is officially a dad!
Robert “Bob” Conlin celebrated his first Father’s Day on Sunday, just one day after he and his wife Shona Moeller welcomed their newborn son, Forest Gace Walter.
“Seeing my son for the first time was like seeing a miracle,” Bob, 45, tells PEOPLE. “This little baby fought so hard to be my son and it makes me want to be the best father in the world for him. He is my greatest gift and I cannot wait to learn from him and he to learn from me.”
Forest weighed 4 lbs., 3 oz., and measured in at 17.5 inches long, Conlin proudly revealed on the GoFundMe page that was started on their behalf in April and has since raised over $21,000.
“My heart beats outside of me. WE DID IT!!! WE ALL DID IT!!! Here he is,” the new dad wrote beside two photos from the birth on Saturday. “He’s doing well. Momma is doing well. I’m a mess and doing well.”
“Thank you everyone. Your love, thoughts, prayers have got us here,” Conlin continued. “Our NICU journey begins.”
Forest’s arrival was a long time coming for his parents, who were separated in April amid the coronavirus pandemic.
At the time, Moeller, 41, was admitted to Hinsdale’s AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center at 23 weeks pregnant after her water broke prematurely. She was then kept on bed rest in an effort to prevent going into early labor, which could risk her unborn child’s health.
Though Conlin wanted to be by his wife’s side during those uncertain times, he was unable to because of COVID-19 restrictions. But that didn’t stop him from showing his support from afar.
Instead, Conlin set up date nights outside Moeller’s window, complete with a candle-lit table, signs, FaceTime and takeout from their favorite restaurants.
In the following weeks, Conlin kept his followers updated on Moeller’s progress while patiently counting down the days until Forest was ready to make his appearance.
That highly anticipated day finally came on Saturday — and according to Conlin, it “exceeded” every expectation he had.
“We were so concerned that he would have a lot of challenges once born but he has met and exceeded every milestone,” Conlin tells PEOPLE. “The doctors and nurses are blown away.”
Forest’s birth was also documented on Conlin’s Facebook, which he announced alongside several sweet photos of Moeller holding her baby boy.
“Momma meets Forest for the first time. He immediately started rooting as soon as he got near her. 😭” he wrote in the post. “We were moved to the mother-baby unit saying goodbye to Shona’s home for the last 69 days… The three of us are eternally grateful.”
Looking ahead, Conlin says Moeller is expected to get discharged on Wednesday, while Forest will likely be home in a few weeks.
Above all, he is looking forward to starting a life with his wife and son outside of the hospital walls.
“I’m most excited to have my wife home and eventually to have Forest home,” Bob says. “I’m also really excited to watch him grow and fight to come home. This little one is a fighter.”