Parents get married in daughter’s NICU room on Valentine’s Day

It was a day full of love in the NICU at Children’s Hospital of Richmond.
It was a day full of love in the NICU at Children’s Hospital of Richmond.(Kevin Morley | Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU)
Published: Feb. 14, 2022 at 5:28 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - It was a day full of love in the NICU at Children’s Hospital of Richmond.

Tracey Leonard and Adrian Dickens finally said “I do” on Valentine’s Day, making sure their daughter Amanda “Mandy” Dickens was a part of the big celebration.

Tracey and Adrian originally planned to get married on Dec. 17, but the couple, unfortunately, caught COVID-19 a few days prior.

The two then planned to go to the courthouse on Dec. 30, but those plans got foiled when Tracey went into labor on that day, four months before little Mandy was expected.

Mandy surprised everyone and made her grand entrance at 5:22 p.m. on New Year’s Eve at VCU Medical Center.

“Dr. Guthrie, one of the fellow doctors, explained to us that the journey ahead would be like a roller coaster, and he was exactly right. Some days we get good news all day long. Some days we get bad news,” said Tracey. “But everyone at the hospital has been a Godsend. They’re so sweet, understanding, and amazing, not only addressing all of Mandy’s needs but mine and her dad’s as well.”

Since her birth, Mandy has been at the hospital, leading Tracey and Adrian to get to know the hospital staff well.

“The thing I enjoy most about working with this family is the positive attitude they have every day. When you have a child in the NICU, whether it is for one day or 100, it’s never easy,” said Andrea Cataldo, Mandy’s primary nurse.

While Mandy is the main focus for Tracey and Adrian, they still hoped to get married soon.

Tracey said that one day they were joking with the social worker in the NICU that they should just get married over Mandy’s incubator. While they may have been joking, the social worker, Cassi, took it to heart.

“They have created such a loving and joyful environment for their little girl already,” said Cassi. “I was really moved when they told me all they really wanted at this point was to just get married and have their daughter be present. They had been through so many hurdles with their wedding thus far. I wanted them to finally have their moment to celebrate and hopefully make one thing a little easier for them.”

They initially considered having the ceremony on Jan. 31, marking Mandy’s one-month birthday, but the date didn’t allow all the pieces to fall into place. That’s when they had another lovely idea.

“Then we looked at each other and said, ‘What about Valentine’s Day?’ We love each other, and we love Mandy. Let’s do it on the day of love,” said Tracey.

Flowers, balloons and a small cake were donated to make the ceremony memorable for the special couple. The couple finally said “I do” in the NICU with their daughter by their side and family on FaceTime.

Whenever Mandy is finally ready to go home, her extended family looks forward to celebrating her arrival and the wedding.

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