Valentine’s Day arrived early for Asma and Eric Sunday, who celebrated their love this month in an unforgettable way. Within the same day, they got married and had a baby—and it all happened at the Brigham.
“It’s unbelievable and wonderful,” Asma said. “We still can’t believe we are officially married and have a son. We are overjoyed.”
Making it “official” is a key part of the Sundays’ story. In 2017, the couple held a wedding ceremony and reception in New York, but still needed to submit the documentation that would legally recognize their nuptials. After moving to Boston, they made several attempts to return to New York to submit their marriage papers, but busy schedules and life got in the way. Their goal was to have their marriage certificate issued in New York where they first met.
As Asma’s pregnancy developed, the Sundays realized they’d need to obtain their marriage license nearby in Massachusetts. They tried a handful of times to get to Boston City Hall but weren’t successful due to extenuating circumstances, including a snowstorm and a minor car accident. Still, they wanted to make sure their marriage was official before the baby arrived.
Knowing that time was running out, the couple had planned to go to City Hall at the end of January, but Asma was unexpectedly hospitalized at the Brigham two weeks ahead of her due date. She was diagnosed with oligohydramnios—a rare condition in which there is too little amniotic fluid in the uterus—and would need to be induced to safely deliver the baby. After being admitted, Asma knew that while they couldn’t get to City Hall, she and her husband would find a way to get married before becoming parents.
“We woke up and I said to Eric, ‘Oh, man. Babe, we still aren’t married,’” Asma recounted. “We said to each other, ‘Today’s the day.’”
Thanks to several people at the Brigham, including Aliya Hirji, RN, a Labor and Delivery nurse, Jessica Marks, LICSW, an Obstetrics social worker, and staff from Spiritual Care Services, Asma and Eric were married right in Asma’s hospital room. And hours later, they celebrated the birth of their son, Ajai.
Hirji, whom Asma called her “wedding planner,” was excited when the Sundays asked if she could help make the ceremony happen.
“This was a very unique and special experience for me,” Hirji said. “I wish them the very best and congratulate them on two memorable occasions on one very special day; it was one to remember.”
Ann Marie Colletta, BSN, RN, who was the nurse-in-charge on the fifth floor of the Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women and Newborns the day Asma was induced, said Hirji came to her with the Sundays’ request, and they both were inspired to help.
“I have been here for 30 years, and it’s the first time we’ve done such a thing on our floor,” Colletta said. “It’s a testament to how well the Brigham staff work together to make our patients’ and their families’ dreams come true.”
Looking back, the Sundays said how grateful they were to everyone involved at the Brigham who helped make the wedding ceremony happen so quickly.
“My husband and I believe it takes a village to raise our child, and we feel as though the Brigham is our extended village,” Asma said. “Everyone involved in our care there was truly amazing. We are so thankful.”
Following the ceremony, Rev. Joanna Olivetti, a chaplain resident in Spiritual Care Services, said it was such a blessing to meet the Sundays and help them celebrate their relationship. She was honored to be the one to marry them.
“Asma and Eric filled that hospital room with so many wonderful things: family, balloons, candy, happy hospital staff who gathered to witness the ceremony, and, most importantly, they filled it with love,” Olivetti said. “Thank you for sharing your joy with us, Asma and Eric.”
Eric said he appreciated all the support the Brigham offered to him and his wife as they completed two major milestones in their lives within such a short period of time.
“It’s a lesson learned—never leave things until the last minute,” Eric said as he and Asma shared a laugh about the whole experience. “One thing is for sure, though: We did get married.”