Mike’s update on single dad life, paternity leave lessons, and working with Forward Fertility
Mike is a Forward Fertility client whose story was featured on GaysWithKids.com. That story came out before his daughter was born in February and was an honest depiction of the struggles he went through to start a family – even though it meant the prospect of being a single dad.
We caught up with Mike recently to see how he’s doing as a dad.
How did Christie from Forward Fertility support you in your decision to become a parent?
I would have given up a long time ago if it weren’t for Christie. Surrogacy isn’t a smooth and steady path and Christie was there to help me past all the bumps (or gaping canyons!) in the road. She’s great at following up and pushing forward one step at a time which made the process manageable and moving.
What was your daughter’s birthday like?
Surreal. It took a while to sink in that it actually happened, that I was finally a dad. Part of me always expected something to go wrong, so when I was actually holding my happy, healthy baby girl in my arms I was overwhelmed with happiness. An oddly calming, deep happiness, even though I knew my life was about to get even more crazy!
What was the big thing you learned from your time on paternity leave?
That I can do it! I can be a single dad and rock it. Everyone tells you all these horror stories about being a parent, so I was bracing myself for something really bad. I think that happiness would keep kicking in and, even when I was sleep deprived and she was screaming for a bottle, I still felt lucky and happy just to have her in my arms.
Embarking on becoming a dad just as your marriage was ending must have been scary. Now that your daughter is here, what would you tell yourself six months ago if you could?
You’ve made the right choice. In fact, the best decision you’ve made in your life.
What do you know now that you wish you could have known then?
Hmmmm… That I WOULDN’T fall in the water birth tub!
In the weeks leading up to her birth I started having this anxious fear that I would somehow fall in the water birth tub. I was told that you’re not supposed to cut the umbilical cord immediately but also that I should do immediate skin to skin contact with the baby. Since my surrogate was having a water birth, I was trying to logistically see in my head how I could have my baby against my chest while the cord was still attached. I pictured myself awkwardly leaning over the birthing tub and then falling in, head first! Hahaha.
Needless to say, I didn’t fall in and everything worked out.
Christie talks about supporting donors, gestational carriers or surrogates and parents-to-be from the initial talk to after delivery. How did she help you as your partnership with your surrogate wrapped up?
The gestational carrier I matched with through Forward Fertility is a super human! She is one of the most kind, compassionate people I have ever met. Once we were texting about the next breast milk pickup and she reminded me that she was going to be out of town for the weekend and wanted to ensure me she would be pumping the whole time. It turned out that she was part of a caravan of adults driving high school students from Wisconsin to DC so they could participate in the March for Our Lives… but she was just as concerned about having milk for my baby!
What advice would you give to parents-to-be as they think about their family planning?
Whenever someone asks me this I always give the same answer: just keep going. One step at a time. Know there will be issues to overcome but keep going. It’s incredibly worth it.
Read Michael’s story on gayswithkids.com.
Learn more about the process to match with a gestational carrier.