THE PARENTS: Tyanna Myers, 27, and Marcus Myers, 31, of Northeast Philadelphia
THE KIDS: Melody Faith, 3; Lyric Grace, born Oct. 14, 2020
WHAT HE DID FOR LOVE: Paid double the price for a concert ticket from a resale vendor in order to propose during a break in the show.
Marcus walked right by the onesie in the living room. The one that read, “Only the best husbands get promoted to Daddy.” The one sitting next to a positive pregnancy test.
“He didn’t notice it right away,” Tyanna recalls. But after a double take — he walked into the bedroom, then came back out and looked again — he screamed in excitement. Then both called their mothers with the news.
They’d been planning to wait for a few years after their 2016 wedding — time to travel and enjoy being a couple. “But almost immediately after getting married, I wanted to have a baby so bad,” Tyanna says. “I was so ready. We thought: What’s the point of waiting?”
Parenthood came quickly, a contrast to their relationship’s slow start. The two met when Tyanna was still a senior in high school and Marcus’ band headlined a cafe night at their church in Trevose.
As they hung out with a group of friends — eating at Applebee’s, ice skating at Penn’s Landing, going to hip-hop and gospel concerts — Tyanna felt drawn to Marcus’ goofy sense of humor, a foil to her more serious temperament.
He, in turn, was impressed by her tenacity. A few times, he tried to take the pulse of the relationship — ”You don’t like me, right?” he’d ask, hoping the answer would be, “Yes, I do.” But Tyanna felt wary of their four-year age gap, and she was determined that the next man she dated seriously would be the one she married.
“I’m the oldest child of six,” she says. “I’ve always been a mother figure, taking care of everyone else. I knew I wanted to have a husband and build a family.”
After two years of friendship, they began to date. Then, the relationship moved more quickly: a public proposal on Halloween night during a concert by Christian rapper Andy Mineo; a wedding they planned in six months. Tyanna has an indelible memory of their first dance, to a song Marcus wrote and recorded called “My Love.”
They’d already talked about children, speculating about what their physical traits and personalities might be. Marcus, whose father died of lung cancer when he was a child, yearned to provide the steadiness and role modeling he’d missed.
Tyanna, the oldest daughter of a single mom, worried about parenting multiple kids. “I thought it was overwhelming to have a lot of kids. I couldn’t imagine how you could give yourself to all of them without someone feeling neglected or slighted.” She wanted to be present for her children — more than her mother, who worked 3-to-midnight shifts throughout Tyanna’s childhood, was able to be. They settled on the prospect of three kids. Or perhaps four.
Tyanna’s first pregnancy was “picture-perfect,” she says. “I was wearing heels up until 40 weeks. I was dancing.” The birth, however, fell short of her hopes — a 10-hour labor in which Tyanna felt rushed by hospital personnel. Still, she wept when doctors handed her the baby — ”just holding her for the first time out of my body.”
It felt different from playing Mom to her siblings. “She was something I’d created and chose to have responsibility over.”
For a while, they were content with just one. But Tyanna knew she didn’t want an only child. She had a miscarriage. Then another. It was Melody who broke the news, chirping, “We’re having a baby!” when her father walked in the door from work one day in January.
Her enthusiasm persisted. “When is the baby coming?” she’d ask. “Is she done baking yet?” She kissed Tyanna’s belly before she went to sleep.
The pregnancy was healthy. But the miscarriages, combined with a pandemic that seemed to be creeping closer and closer to home, left them unnerved. “I was constantly praying: Let this work out,” Tyanna recalls.
Marcus wasn’t permitted to come to some of her prenatal visits. Then Tyanna realized she’d have to choose only one support person — either her husband or a nurse-friend whose expertise and advocacy she valued — to be with her during the birth.
“This fire ignited in me: I’m going to take control and have the birth I always desired.” At 32 weeks, she began searching for a midwife who would consider a home birth. She found one, Erin Kershaw, who did prenatal visits in Tyanna’s home and encouraged her to trust her body when it came time to give birth.
The midwife also had a request. A filmmaker working on American Portrait, a PBS storytelling initiative, wanted to film Kershaw as she delivered a baby; would Tyanna consent to have her birth on camera?
“I said, ‘Yes, I can share this,’ ” Tyanna says. “I thought it was important for people who look like me to see that kind of birth.”
She was exactly a week late when she woke up one morning with mild cramps that she recognized as contractions. The pains amped up by midmorning, but they still weren’t anything like the excruciating labor Tyanna had imagined.
Her midwife arrived at 10 a.m. Tyanna climbed into the birthing tub at 10:45, pushed twice, and had Lyric at 11:06. “It was a dream labor,” she says. “She just came so peacefully.” And though she’s watched the video countless times, she still can’t quite fathom how it all happened.
“I’m still shocked, watching it, that everything worked out. That we had her at home. I felt very proud.”
Tyanna and Marcus gave their daughters first names that nod to the music they both love, and middle names that capture the experience of conception, pregnancy, and parenthood. It requires faith, they say, and grace.
“The same amount of love and grace and patience you want to give your kids is the same amount you need to have for yourself as a parent,” Tyanna says. “You’re not going to get it right all the time.”