Transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg marked one year of parenthood with a post on Medium this weekend, recalling the day when he first discovered he and his husband Chasten would be adopting twins.
The soon-to-be parent remembered feeling both delighted and uncertain on the sunny afternoon when he got the news, after a “share of painful false starts” on the adoption waitlist.
Fast forward a year later, and Buttigieg says he experienced an “extraordinary transformation” in his life, along with Chasten.
“In one year, you go from someone absorbed in your own worries, hopes, and career, to having fully faced just how much in life is outside your control — and how magical it is to spend every day with someone who matters more to you than your old self could possibly have dreamed of,” Buttigieg wrote in a reflection
Since Buttigieg announced he and Chasten had adopted Penelope Rose and Joseph August last fall, the Transportation secretary has been eager to share moments from their lives.
In October, Buttigieg and Chasten shared photographs of the children dressed as traffic cones for Halloween, joking that they were “twinfrastructure.” And in January, Buttigieg said becoming a father for the first time lit a fire inside him.
Buttigieg said in his Saturday post that parenting has been a cause of great celebration in his life, but has not always been easy for the former South Bend, Ind., mayor and former 2020 presidential candidate.
When he got the news that a mother was putting her twins up for adoption, Buttigieg immediately took a red-eye flight to the hospital while Chasten quickly hopped in the car and drove to meet him there.
Penelope and Joseph were “perfect” and “heart melting,” Buttigieg writes, but they were born premature and underweight. They weren’t discharged from the hospital until two weeks later, and Penelope continued to struggle with a severe reflux, sometimes turning purple when she couldn’t breathe properly.
Both Penelope and Joseph, who the parents have nicknamed Gus, were hospitalized in October after a respiratory virus infection. Doctors said the children were in critical condition at one point, and Buttigieg wrote the hospital turned into a “new home base” for he and Chasten.
“Parenting is lots of things, and one of those things is terror,” Buttigieg writes on Medium. “You watch your infant, sedated and surrounded by wires and tubes and monitors and medical personnel coming and going constantly, and wonder how we could live in a universe where a few weeks could be all that a child gets on this earth.”
Buttigieg was also combatting a national crisis as supply chains were disrupted across the country, and as President Biden was pushing to get his bipartisan infrastructure law passed in Congress.
While Buttigieg worked everyday from the hospital, some conservatives criticized him for not working harder while his infants were hospitalized, in comments many said were homophobic.
By the end of October, the twins had recovered. However, the normal struggles of parenthood, such as “sleepless nights, blown-out diapers, late-night bottle warmings in the glow of the refrigerator light,” were still around, he said.
“After a presidential campaign, a wartime military deployment, and eight eventful years as mayor of my hometown, I was no stranger to very hard work. But this was a completely new level of sustained sleep deprivation,” the Transportation secretary wrote. “Every parent probably has a memory of a moment that shows you just how deep the sleep loss is running.
“For me, it was when I reached for a cup of coffee, put it to my lips, and suddenly realized it was not a mug but a baby bottle,” he added.
Earlier this month, Pete and Chasten celebrated the twin’s birthdays in Michigan. Penelope was photographed stuffing her mouth with cake and smearing the blue-and-white icing across her face, with Gus joining in.
“It was hard to believe these were the same infants we had stared at in disbelief one year earlier at that little rural hospital,” Buttigieg wrote. “Here they were, four or five times the size they started, delighted by the world around them, boisterous and alive in every sense of the word.”