Any parent can remember the emotional and physical challenges of those first days and weeks with a new baby…being exhausted, joyful, and in awe of this newly arrived little person. It can also be somewhat scary.
For Macomb YMCA Director Josh Landefeld and his wife Christy, all those emotions of new parents and more were magnified. Christy experienced a host of life-threatening complications and lost her sight while giving birth to their daughter two years ago.
Daughter Emy was fine, despite being a little premature. She spent some time in neonatal intensive care but was able to come home within a week. For her mother, things were not so smooth. Christy spent Emy’s first two months in and out of the hospital with various complications.
That meant Josh was on solo dad duty, learning to do all the things a new parent does while his wife struggled to get better. “It was extremely challenging, trying to take care of Emy at the same time and visit Christy and make sure I was there for her,” he says. “For a couple hours each day either I and/or Emy would go back into the hospital to see Christy and do what we could to have a family connection during those challenging moments.”
That difficult time was made easier by the support from his coworkers at the Plymouth YMCA, where he was director at the time. A few days a week, he had to bring Emy to work with him… not only because of a lack of childcare options but because he enjoyed spending the time with her forging the all-important father-daughter bond. And it wasn’t just her dad she bonded with. “Everyone there was extremely supportive …everyone was wonderful,” Josh says, “They provided care and love in way most babies don’t get at that young of an age.”
It wasn’t just a blessing to Josh and Emy to have the support from the Y staff; they also enjoyed the chance to get to know Emy and see her grow and develop. And all that love and care from a team of very caring people has had a great effect on his daughter, Josh says. “All the interactions with different people and situations in her early life helped her grow into something special,” he says.
Christy continues to improve. She attended a program to help her adjust to life without her vision, and this past fall went back to teaching. She also served as a Girls on the Run coach at her school. Emy, who recently turned two, is a healthy, happy, talkative toddler. And the Y family continues to be very much a part of theirs. “I’m very fortunate to work at a branch and an organization where that kind of love and support and understanding was there,” Josh says. “And they have continued to be supportive through all of it. The whole time you know you’re having a kid, you know it will change your life — we just didn’t know it would change this much.”