For as long as I can remember, I knew I’d be a dad. I’d often dream of reading to my kids, playing with them, driving them to Grandma’s. But what I neglected to include in my dreams was how this was going to happen. As our fertility doctor put it, we have “severe female factor fertility issues,”—a common condition when both parents are male.
So my husband and I began to build the village we’d need to make our family. Our inaugural residents were another same-sex couple; I am a daddy-donor to their charming and intelligent three-year-old daughter, who loves to tell people how “Uncle Frank helped make me.” They took it upon themselves to help kick-start our family by referring us to the fertility doctor who expertly mapped out the upcoming journey.
Next, we flew to Montreal to visit our dear friend to ask her if she would be the biological donor of our children. Once she agreed, we spent the following eight months visiting clinics in both Toronto and Montreal, preparing a donor agreement and psychological assessments and scheduling doctor visits, having an “egg harvest” and finally the in vitro fertilization performed. Five days after that, we were the proud parents of several frozen blastocyst embryos that waited patiently until we could find a gestational carrier.
As our village grew with supportive family and friends, I hoped it wouldn’t be too difficult to find the right surrogate. I researched surrogate matching agencies extensively and, even after selecting one, several months went by before we could find someone who matched our criteria. Finally, the universe delivered someone, and it was love at first sight! We adored her family of four kids, her no-nonsense approach to life and her ability to make everyone around her feel loved. She loved our enthusiasm for becoming fathers and our desire to keep her around as an auntie to our child.
Though we knew we were in for an emotional roller coaster ride, with Angela as our surrogate we thoroughly enjoyed sharing each milestone. One cold February evening, about a month after the embryo transfer, we were Skyping with Angela and her kids. Angela excused herself for a moment and returned with a freshly taken pregnancy test. We all watched together in immense anticipation as the stripes on the test revealed a positive result. Shrieking in excitement, I thought the tears in my eyes were playing tricks on me, but by the fifth test we were sure we were pregnant!
In the months that followed, we did almost everything together—doctor appointments, shopping for maternity clothes, registering for our baby shower—all the while cultivating this incredible friendship between our families. A quite pregnant Angela and her husband attended our wedding, where they were met with immense gratitude and belly rubs from our friends and family. Teary eyed grandmothers-to-be would linger around Angela in complete awe, unable to find the words to say “thank you,” while aunts and uncles to be showered her with celebratory cheering, singing and dancing.
As the due date approached, we worked out a birth plan, which included Angela’s husband and both of us in the delivery room. The evening her water broke, we were already in bed, winding down after a long day. The anxious energy that coursed through my body with the news catapulted me into a frenzy of changing clothes (twice!), packing bags, gathering baby essentials and then sitting in the car in the driveway. There was no real urgency, but my mind was racing. The labour itself was long, but we tried to make Angela as comfortable as possible. Our efforts over the last year were finally coming to light.
I held him mere seconds after he was born. The hustle and bustle of the crowded delivery room faded away as I cradled his tiny warm body in my hands. Time slowed down. I reminded myself that I wasn’t dreaming this time. I looked down at my son as he let out his first cry. I felt a sense of complete elation and calm. There was nobody else in the world but us. As the room came back into focus, I looked up at my husband, who was the first to say “We’re dads!” I looked over at a very tired Angela, who was quietly gazing at us, absorbing the enormity of what the three of us had accomplished together.
After the birth of our son, our little village was quick to share in our excitement and celebration. It occurred to me that this group of people would always be a part of his life. Today they visit, they call, they Skype, they text to ask about him and, together, we marvel at our little miracle. When my son grows up, I will proudly tell him the story of how so many people came together for this labour of love.