Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes
PROVO — The "gender reveal" for the baby of Marcus and Ashlyn Rittmanic was unlike most, but the soon-to-be mom said she'll treasure the memory of it forever.
While he was in the intensive care unit battling COVID-19, health care workers helped Marcus Rittmanic surprise his wife with their baby's gender — a boy — over video chat. Someone brought Rittmanic a baby boy outfit and the ultrasounds.
"It was just amazing. Not quite what we had planned for our gender reveal, but I'm so glad we got to do it," Ashlyn Rittmanic said.
When her husband had earlier learned that it was a boy, "all of his vital signs went up significantly, like you could see how excited he was just based on his vital signs," she recalled.
"That was really special, and he's really excited," she said, although he'd sensed it was a boy from early in her pregnancy.
"He was just so excited to have a little buddy to teach about cars. He wanted to go fast with him, to coach, and (play) sports with, and just teach all the fun little boy things," Ashlyn Rittmanic said.
Despite having no underlying conditions, Marcus Rittmanic developed pneumonia and his breathing was so labored she had taken him to the hospital within a week of contracting the virus.
"He had a couple up-and-down days and then the last two days he was in the ICU and things went downhill pretty fast," she said.
Rittmanic said her husband had no pre-existing health conditions and thought his hospital stay would be a short one. She declined to discuss his vaccination status or medical details. Her husband's father was also in the hospital with COVID-19 in 2020 and survived.
"Everyone was reassuring me, 'It will be a couple days, he'll be home. He just needs a little extra help,'" she said. "I'm still in shock and trying to process what's happening this week."
Although Rittmanic, 28, lost his battle with the disease in the ICU on Saturday night, his wife says their family will help teach their son about the things his dad loved and the man he was. Their baby boy will be born in the spring.
Just two weeks after testing positive for COVID-19, Marcus Rittmanic, 28, lost his battle with the virus in the ICU.— Ashley Moser (@AshleyMoser) October 28, 2021
At 10:00, hear from his wife about the legacy he leaves behind and the lesson we can all learn from his positivity @KSL5TVpic.twitter.com/RQ5HhBUtcY
"He was an absolutely amazing man, he was a really great husband and a great man," she said.
He was working on finishing his bachelor's degree in finance after putting Ashlyn through school while she completed her doctorate program. Ashlyn Rittmanic said "he sacrificed his time" to support them.
After the couple originally met on Tinder — a fact Ashlyn said her husband didn't enjoy sharing — they communicated long-distance for months before meeting in person as he was out of state for a summer sales job. During that time, Ashlyn's car window broke while she was in the middle of finals. She says he took care of getting it fixed from afar.
"From day one, he just was the most kind and loving and generous person I've ever met. He did more for me than I ever can even explain," she explained.
The couple married about eight months later and were to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary early next year.
"And he loved finance, he loved stocks and just like messing with financial stuff — and I don't know much about it, but he sure did. And he loved technology. It was just so fun for him to find new tech stuff. He also loved cars and motorcycles so much," Rittmanic said.
She said her husband had also purchased his dream car — a Dodge Hellcat — and got to drive it over the summer "and was just as happy as can be." He'd even had professional photos taken of him driving it on a race track going fast, as he loved to do. Rittmanic said she'll also cherish those photos of her husband doing what he loved.
"One thing I'm super grateful for, Marcus has five other brothers, and they all have the same interests as him, they love video games, technology, cars — that was what they did together, and they all were just best friends," she said.
Their son will have all of his uncles to teach him the same things that his dad wanted to teach him, Rittmanic explained.
"And I just hope that the stories I'll tell him is just how loving and amazing and generous and funny he was. And he was a little mischievous, liked to play pranks and scare me, and just do funny things and mess with me, and I just am excited to share all those stories with him," she said.
Rittmanic said she hopes people will be inspired by the way her husband lived life.
"He was just really able to live his life with no regrets and live to the fullest," she said. "I think that's just the biggest message I'm taking away, to not stress about the little things because ultimately they don't matter."
Friends and family have set up a *GoFundMe for Ashlyn to help with funeral expenses.
*KSL.com does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.