Bringing a child into the world during COVID-19 has cast fatherhood in a new light for a UCLA physician.
Father's Day this year felt quieter than the last couple for UCLA physician Jason Jalil, MD, and that's okay.
On May 22, under the care of Radhika Rible, MD, of UCLA’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. Jalil’s wife gave birth to the couple’s second child, a boy. Their first son also was born at UCLA, a little more than two years ago. But this time, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the experience of fatherhood has been quite different.
As an adult and geriatric psychiatrist well integrated into the UCLA hospital system, Dr. Jalil knew not to be worried about his family’s safety during labor and delivery. “Seeing how things are run and knowing that all of the proper precautions are being taken, I wasn’t concerned at all,” he says.
But raising a newborn and a toddler at a time of social distancing has changed the calculation in other ways. “With a kid prior to March, we took a lot for granted,” Dr. Jalil says. “Now, every decision is very calculated because there’s so much on the line.”
That’s meant curtailing trips to the grocery store; it’s also meant not bringing friends and relatives into his family’s home. Dr. Jalil notes that when his first son was born, more than 100 people were on hand for the bris, a joyous occasion in Jewish culture. “This time it was just five of us, in our backyard,” he says.
Yet, the ceremony, where his son was given the Hebrew name Asher, meaning “happiness,” or “blessing,” was no less meaningful. In fact, Dr. Jalil has found that the restrictions imposed by the pandemic have brought their own blessings.
“It was jarring at first,” he says. “But then I began to see the silver lining and realize I’d get to spend two months with my older son at home before the baby came — concentrated time together that we wouldn’t have otherwise had. Life slowed down, and that has allowed me to really appreciate the subtleties in my children’s development and embrace the transformation of our family.”
Dr. Jalil says he and his wife discussed whether they would have tried to conceive a second child had they known COVID-19 was looming. They agreed the answer was yes. “Throughout history, children have been born during dark periods,” he says. “Bringing new life into the world speaks to our resilience as a community, and offers hope that the next generation will learn from our mistakes.”