A Divorced Dad-to-Be Wonders About the Future
"Becoming a father has always been the most important thing to me," said Michael, an expectant dad. His first child, a little girl, is due via surrogacy in February next year, and he'll be raising her on his own as a single dad. Not the most conventional way to create a family, he admits. (But is there ever really a "conventional" way when you're a gay dad?) Becoming a father has been his dream since he can remember, regardless of whether he gets to share the journey or not. And his journey has been filled with heartbreak, loss and perseverance. As we countdown the weeks till February, here's Michael's story.
Michael didn't come out till he was 25. One of the reasons he waited so long, he says, is that he didn't think having a family was possible as a gay man. When he decided to come out it was partly because he realized he could be both a gay man and a dad. Michael was previously married to a man who, at least initially, shared his desire to become a father. Together they discovered an egg donor and gestational surrogacy agency called Forward Fertility in Madison, Wisconsin, where Michael still lives, and connected with Christie Olsen, the founder.
"She has been amazing," said Michael. "Telling me what to expect, giving me questions I didn't think to ask, being supportive when things went bad, keeping me on top of next steps, all more than I could have hoped for."
But unfortunately, and for reasons out of anyone's control, things did go bad. Michael and his ex-husband went through a failed egg donation, a successful egg donation, a failed transfer, and a miscarriage. Due to these experiences, they had to find money that they hadn't initially budgeted for. But it was the miscarriage that Michael really struggled with, and in hindsight wishes he'd told more people about the pregnancy so that he'd have had more people to help him through that difficult period.
During all this, Michael's marriage ended and he was at a crossroads as to whether he should continue.
"After the separation, I knew I still wanted to be a father," explained Michael. "I had one embryo left that was genetically mine, the surrogate was willing to try again, and after all the time, money, and mental energy I had already spent, I knew I would hate myself for not trying."
Michael is also an only child and in the past 5 years has lost his father and his stepmom. His mother is currently suffering from Parkinson's disease; he wants at least one of his parents to experience being a grandparent.
So he tried one last time with the embryo that was genetically his, and they were successful. His daughter is due in February 2018.
As February approaches, Michael has already begun his preparations for fatherhood. He's planning on taking two months paternity leave and his cousins have offered to stay with him for awhile to help out. Friends have already been calling dibs on babysitting duties as well.
"I really am lucky with how supportive everyone has been," said Michael. "I had been hesitant and awkward with telling people because not everyone knew about the divorce and it's a lot to explain (apparently multiple coworkers didn't even know I was gay so that was one more thing to explain!) But everyone has been great."
Decorating the nursery has begun, baby shower has been thrown, and it's all started to become a little more real.
"I'm nervous about being a single dad. I'm nervous about not knowing enough about girls. I'm nervous that I'm going to stay single forever."
But beside the nerves, he's overwhelmingly excited.
"[I can't wait] for when she's old enough to play with. I'm just a big kid myself!"
For now, Michael is hesitant of the dating scene as he's not sure how to tell potential dates that he's going to be a dad in a few months and his kid is going to be his number one priority. He doesn't feel as though it's a fair thing to ask of a prospective partner: to automatically be number two. But in the future, his main prerequisite for a partner is someone who loves his daughter as much as he loves Michael.
To all the other single gay men considering going it on their own, Michael says, "If that's what you really want, then go for it! There are great people in your life ready to be there for you. Take it one step at a time. There will be setbacks. Take a moment to pick yourself back up, concentrate on that one next step, and move forward."
From setbacks and heartaches, to eager anticipation and a world about to change, Michael is as ready as he'll ever be. We're sure he's going to be a wonderful dad!