Life with a Newborn: Christian and Brad Talk About Their Son Joe
Brad and Christian met in Denver, Colorado and have been together for over 10 years. They were legally married earlier this year in March, and they live in Mill Valley, California.
Christian, 37, and Brad, 36, always wanted to be dads. At first, they tried foster care, then adoption, but ultimately were not matched. So they turned to surrogacy. “We were extremely lucky to have found an incredible surrogate that quickly became part of our family while at the same time respecting boundaries — we really could not have had a better surrogate,” shared Christian.
Three weeks earlier than his due date, their son Joseph was born October 18, 2016. The two dads were over the moon! Joseph was 7 pounds 3 ounces, 19.5 inches and in perfect health at birth.
"The first month of Joseph’s life was amazing! There were so many firsts: first smile, first bath, first shot, first doctor’s visit. We are still in awe of this little guy that has been in our plans for years — and he was finally here!”
To help prepare for their son’s arrival, the dads-to-be had taken a newborn care class at the local hospital. Although the class didn't necessarily teach them any new skills they hadn't learned from being uncles to their nephews and nieces, it gave them an opportunity to practice swaddling, bathing and changing a diaper.
For Christian and Brad, setting up a routine for the new family was important. They were already dads to two Miniature Schnauzers; ensuring a good family dynamic from the very beginning was of the utmost importance. Both admit that doing so wasn't always easy with a newborn, but all-in-all, they agree their first month was a success.
Well before the birth of Joseph, or "Joe" as the two new dads are calling him, Christian had everything planned. Grandparents visits were scheduled, the nursery was ready, and plans for coming home from the hospital were organized well before Joe's birth.
For the first two weeks, Christian and Brad decided it was important to have a week or so to bond with Joe and get into their routine before extended family members started to descend on the new family. "I think this was huge for us," explained Christian. "It allowed us time to build up our confidence as new parents and gave us time to just get to know Joseph and for him to get to know us."
By the time the family had arrived, the two dads were able to get a little time to recharge while the grandparents helped out.
Christian and Brad were able to take three months of paternity leave, which enabled them to take shifts at night. Brad took the earlier shift, 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., while Christian, a morning person, took over from 3 a.m. to 9 a.m. This scheduling allowed them to both get some uninterrupted sleep each night. They also kept up their personal exercise schedule which helped keep their mind and bodies at peace.
Gays With Kids: What has surprised you the most about fatherhood?
Christian and Brad: The lack of time we are able to talk about anything other than Joseph. It’s not a bad thing, but sometimes we realize that we haven’t really checked in to see how each other is doing since we are on different sleep schedules. Also, we knew we had great friends and family, but still can’t believe the amount of support we got from neighbors, friends, and family before and after his birth — we returned home from the hospital with home-cooked dinners, cakes, gifts, and a ton of love.
Gays With Kids: Anything that hasn’t surprised you about fatherhood?
Christian and Brad: The lack of sleep. Everyone told us before his birth to get a ton of sleep because we will never sleep again and even though we take shifts and Joseph is a relatively good sleeper — we are still tired most of the time.
Gays With Kids: What have been some of your most precious moments as dads?
Christian and Brad: See what new things Joseph has learned to do. A first smile, first giggle, a first whatever makes up for any fussiness or sleepless nights.
We will never forget being able to witness Joseph’s birth. Christian cut the umbilical cord and Brad was the first to hold and provide skin-to-skin — what an incredible experience that we will never forget. We will also never forget the gratefulness we felt that day and every day since for our surrogate and egg donor.
Gays With Kids: Do you have any advice to future gay dads considering surrogacy?
Christian and Brad: If you are considering building your family through surrogacy, find someone who has gone through the process. Take them out to dinner (we are always available for dinner =)) and just talk through the experience. We learned a ton through the process and are more than happy to share what we learned.