My Beautiful First Born…

My eyes were still puffy from crying all night as I made my way into the office that morning.  My officemate and best friend noticed immediately.  “I am guessing it didn’t go so well?”, she asked.  She was referring to the adoption agency meeting Tony and I had the night before.  And no, it had not gone well.  There were some additional barriers to adoption for us, additional barriers in an already incredibly daunting process.  The major one being that they did not think we had been together long enough to be “viable candidates.  Not at this time.  I wanted to start bawling all over again.  “I am telling you, let me be your surrogate.  I love being pregnant, and I do not want anymore kids.  I really want to do this”, she said.  She had offered this before and I had not dared to take her seriously, but all of the sudden I saw… possibility.

And so it began…

I had dreamed of being a parent since I was a child, I am not kidding I secretly played with dolls and used to dream about what it would be like to have a house full of kids.  When I came out at 15 my only regret was that I wouldn’t be able to have kids.  Gay parenting was NOT a thing in 1989.  As a young gay man I tucked the idea of fatherhood away in my fantasy world and learned to accept that this was not in the cards for me.

Until I met him and everything changed.  Falling in love with Tony, along with advances in societies perception about gay people in general, made everything seem possible.

Tony, M, and I naively entered into the journey of surrogacy.  There were some setbacks, long discussions, lawyers, doctors, lab technicians, and awkward moments in small “donation rooms” with “inspirational material” that might inspire most of their male patients, but was really more of a… distraction for us.

One morning M texted me and asked if she could drop off something her daughter had made for us at school.  As I met her at the security door to let her into the apartment building she thrust something at me. I absently took it as she exclaimed, “I’M PREGNANT!”  I cannot tell you what that moment was like.  And by that I mean there are literally no words to tell you how I felt, all of them fall short in describing the rush of emotions. We rushed up to tell Tony together and the 3 of us just cried.  Right there in my living room.  I don’t know how long we all just bawled and laughed and bawled some more, but I do know that for weeks I was impossibly cheerful and annoyingly happy.

M and I worked together, in fact we shared an office, and unlike a lot of surro parents I got to watch our baby grow.  I witnessed M get bigger and bigger.  I was able to dote on her as much as she would tolerate.  I was there to tell her every day how beautiful she was.  10 months seemed to simultaneously fly by and slow to an impossible crawl.  And then…

“Get ready.  I’m pretty sure I’m having her tonight.” I turned to Tony and fell into his arms.  He and I had spent the last few weeks on high alert.  I had completely scrubbed our entire apartment.  I mean COMPLETELY scrubbed.  Her clothes were all washed, folded, and put away.  Her furniture was waiting for her.  We were ready!  HA HA HA HA HA HA!

M did not have Z in a hospital.  She wanted to have her at a birth center and it was the most beautiful experience.  Z swam into the world in a calmly lit beautiful room surrounded by candles and quiet.  Well, except for the sobs that uncontrollably shook my body.  “There’s your baby!  That’s your baby!!” M exclaimed as the midwife placed this new human on her chest.  If I could have frozen that moment I would have gladly have stayed stuck there for eternity.  When I die my idea of heaven would be reliving the moment I feel in love with Tony and the birth of my kids on a continuous loop.  I can still the weight of her as the midwife placed here in my arms.  When I spoke to her she turned her head towards me.  She had heard my voice for 9 months and she knew me.  The moment that I had fantasized about my whole life, but never thought I would see was here… and it was real.  I couldn’t breathe.

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I knew at that very moment that my career, my acceptance into graduate school, everything paled in comparison, and would take a back seat, to her.

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Every dream I ever had about fatherhood failed to measure up to how amazing it was to be her Daddy, to share this incredible experience… this amazing journey with the love of my life.  I quit my job.  The idea of returning to work was too much.  I know that this is not a viable option, or not the right choice for everyone.  I get that.  Staying home is not for everyone.  After working so hard to get her though… I was unable to let her go, even temporarily.

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Z started school this year, and I will tell you that I am still waiting for that relief parents talk about.  At this point I just miss her.  I know that sounds helicopter-y, and I own it.  I miss her.  I smile and excitedly send her off to school with a big hug and encouraging words every day, but it’s fake.  She is this force that cannot be contained and belongs to the world, but she is still my little baby.

Last night as we were reading her book she snuggled in and I kissed her head.  “Daddy?  you know how I love school?”, she asked.  I do.  I responded.  “Sometimes I wish you could just come with me.  Because I miss you and sometimes I get sad.”  I kissed her head, told her that I missed her too, and reminded her of all the fun she has.  I reminded her that I am never far… but inside made a mental note to look into homeschool.

I finally get what they say about these days moving too fast.  I wish that someone would just press pause for a few minutes.  And not only because I am running out of collagen, but because these… these are the good old days.

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