Semuteh Freeman and Dr. Uchechukwu Eke have had a very eventful year. A completion of medical training, a new job, a move halfway across the country, a marriage, an unexpected addition to the family and, of course, the coronavirus pandemic.
“It was definitely challenging,” Ms. Freeman said.
The two were initially drawn to each other when they met in 2015 through the dating app Coffee Meets Bagel, because both were professionally involved with the welfare of children. Dr. Eke was in medical school then, and intended to go into pediatrics. Ms. Freeman was at the time a lawyer representing foster children through Legal Services for Children, an organization in San Francisco.
“We were both interested in looking out for kids,” Ms. Freeman said.
And so, when they learned last year, just six months after their engagement, that they were going to be having a baby of their own, they were surprised but not unprepared. “It came up in the middle of everything, but was definitely more confirming of our relationship, and brought us closer,” Dr. Eke said.
The couple had their first date five years ago over dinner in San Francisco, and then took a walk that ended with gelato. “I think we both wanted to keep the date going,” Ms. Freeman said.
Dr. Eke, 32, was then a medical student at the University of California, San Francisco, and had graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, where he also received a master’s degree in public health.
Ms. Freeman, 34, graduated from Yale and received a law degree from N.Y.U. She is now a deputy public defender in San Francisco.
The two quickly became serious, and in July 2015 at the State Fair in Sacramento, Calif., at the very top of the Ferris wheel at sunset, Dr., Eke asked Ms. Freeman to be his girlfriend.
“Things had been going so well, I felt like we should probably put a name to our relationship,” he said. “And it seemed like a nice romantic moment.”
“I think by the time I realized it, I was already in love with him,” Ms. Freeman said, recalling the small kindnesses he showed her, like putting socks on her cold feet, making sure she ate, helping her prepare for trials.
In addition to their interest in children, the two also had in common that both had parents who had immigrated from West Africa, both grew up in Northern California, both liked basketball and both were drawn to social justice issues.
“Things he thought were important were things that I also thought were important,” Ms. Freeman said.
And they found they complemented each other well.
“He is steady and calm and keeps me grounded,” Ms. Freeman said. “I can be doing so many things, and going a million miles a minute, and he is so consistent and calm and steady.”
When Dr. Eke left the Bay Area in 2017 for his medical residency in Baton Rouge, La., Ms. Freeman said, “We decided we were going to stay together and stick it out.” The two traveled back and forth every other month or so, and then, in September 2019, they learned that their relationship would soon be a little bigger.
“We had a baby during the pandemic,” Ms. Freeman said. “He was a complete surprise.”
A week before the baby was due, Dr. Eke returned to San Francisco from Louisiana. Their son, Nelson, was born May 4, and was just about 10 weeks old when they were married on July 18 in Oakland, Calif., in the stone labyrinth looking out onto the hills behind the Skyline Community Church, with the Rev. Laurie Manning, a minister of the United Church of Christ, officiating.
Dr. Eke also completed his residency, and just a few days before the wedding, began working as a pediatrician at the Oakland Medical Center.
““It’s been a busy time for sure,” Dr. Eke said.