Sushma Dwivedi Jindal, from New York, was giving birth last week at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Centre. During her labour, she also performed an impromptu wedding ceremony for another couple – who also happened to be in labour.
Here’s how the unusual series of events, which revealed Sushma to be a total queen, unraveled:
As Sushma, 37, was getting an epidural in her spine, her anaesthetist began small-talk to distract her. One of the things she mentioned was another couple on the ward.
“She happens to mention that there was a mad dash to hunt down the hospital chaplain for a wedding,” said Sushma.
That couple, who had been together for 10 years, had intended to get married before their baby arrived in two weeks’ time. They had even organised their wedding license the previous day – but then their baby had other ideas, and the woman’s water had broken.
Doctors believed it would be some time before she was in full labour, which gave them the idea of trying to get married while they waited. Hearing this, Sushma said she offered to help: “I don’t know if this will feel helpful or weird, but I was ordained on the Internet and I can perform the ceremony.”
The hospital chaplain was not ordained to perform a wedding, and so the couple gratefully accepted Sushma’s offer of her services. She explained that she was ordained about four years ago with the Universal Life Church online but had never performed a wedding.
And yet Sushma was willing to help out – despite it being almost midnight – and despite her having an epidural in her back to help with her labour pains.
Medical staff immediately joined efforts for some epic team work. They arranged flowers for Sushma’s delivery room, and distributed battery-powered lights for everyone to hold. A staff member also quickly penned a poem to read.
A nurse braided the hair of the bride, Brianna Doyle, 28, with a crown of flowers, and dabbed lavender-scented stickers on her as a scent.
Lastly, a bow tie was fashioned for the groom, Casey Walko, 30.
Brianna couldn’t believe her good fortune at what was happening – but also, that she had grabbed her purse on the way to the hospital, which happened to have the wedding licence in it. Despite not being due for another two weeks, the bride was calm, knowing the baby was ok, and was able to concentrate on the curious joy of being married whilst in labour.
“When the nurses said to me, ‘We might have another patient in labor who can marry you,’ I looked at them and said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ ” Brianna said.
She also noted that the other patient was in labor, so was unsure about burdening her with the request.
“They said she’s really nice, she’s super excited to do it,” Brianna recalled.
With Sushma comfortable (as much as you can be in labour), and with time before she needed to push, she was able to perform the ceremony - as long as it could come to where she was hooked up to her epidural.
So just after midnight, a nurse found the wedding processional song on her phone, and the staff, in their hospital scrubs, assembled for the wedding of Brianna and Casey.
When the couple entered Sushma's room, she began the matrimony: “Brianna, Casey — welcome to the most unexpected wedding ever.”
The couple were pronounced husband and wife, and Sushma said she was so happy to be able to share their exciting occasion.
“I tried to sound as official and ministerial as possible,” she said. “I wanted them to feel like they were having a nice wedding, not like they were being married by some crazy lady in the next room who was loopy from an epidural.”
Approximately five hours later, Sushma delivered her son, Nayan. And approximately 12 hours after that, Brianna delivered her daughter, Riley.
Both babies and mums are healthy, and will forever have the memories of the most incredible births - and wedding day.
"Nothing can top this," Brianna said, adding that she will always be grateful to the superhero mum, and queen of a woman, who helped her dreams come true.