It was the day our daughter Jasmine was born! I can still remember it like it was yesterday. We were at the hospital in our ugly blue gowns in the delivery room waiting for a glimpse of our little princess. It felt surreal like a fairytale or dream. Were we really going to be dads today?
At 8:31 a.m. a little miracle came out of the belly of our surrogate, my sister-in-law. She had a C-section of course. The baby was kind of scary looking, all purple and slimy and then suddenly a huge wail would come out! It reminded me of a scene from the movie "Aliens."
The doctor then cut the umbilical cord; the nurse quickly got her all cleaned up. Then right away they handed us our baby! We didn't know what to say or do. She was so tiny and precious. Holding her for the first time was the most amazing feeling in the world and also a little terrifying. I didn't want to hold her too tight or loose. "Make sure you support her neck," my husband whispered to me. This was the first of many new challenges that we would have to overcome as new parents.
She weighed 7 pounds, 15 ounces; we double-checked: she had 10 fingers and 10 toes. Then they actually let us take her away to our own room. Yes, we were so fortunate that the hospital gave us a separate room for us to stay in; we also had access to the Ronald McDonald house. In fact, we had a social worker to make sure everything was going well with our stay at the hospital since we were two gay dads. We were so blessed that our surrogate delivered our baby at a friendly hospital with outstanding doctors and nurses. We were treated like celebrities; not discriminated against at all for being gay dads. Our surrogate, my husband's sister, also had a separate room and wanted us to bond first with Jasmine; therefore, she would meet Jasmine later on. She didn't want to get too attached after carrying her for nine months.
We then took turns carrying her while the other took pictures. She was the cutest baby I had ever seen but I bet most parents say that about their own child. It then hit us at about the same time when I could see tears coming down my husband's face. We were dads and this was our baby! A moment we will never forget.
Next came grandparents who had been waiting for this day forever. I bet they never believed it would come from their gay son. Times have changed, especially for my family. (It took over a decade to get to the comfort level where we are today.) One of their biggest regrets after I came out was that they thought they would not have any grandchildren. Now you can see from their expressions that they are truly happy to be grandparents to a gay son.
The next challenge was changing a diaper. Believe it or not, I've never had to change a diaper in my life. It is actually harder than it looks. At first it would take two of us to try to figure this out. She would cry, squirm, pee or poo and add any other type of obstacle to make things more difficult. One time she pooped three times in one changing where what looked like black tar was just flowing out non-stop. How did this little creature poo and pee so much? At first we thought we could not handle all of this but it did get easier after the 10th diaper in just one day!
Next was feeding the little angel, who had a very healthy appetite. We had decided beforehand to go the formula route. We have asked so much from our surrogate already and she felt that breastfeeding would potentially make her bond too much with our baby. She did pump some colostrum which is like liquid gold for the baby which provides important antibodies for her. We went with ready-to-feed Enfamil since it was provided by the hospital. We debated months beforehand which brand to use but at the end of the day I think they're all pretty similar. One piece of advice from a friendly nurse was to use the ready-to-feed bottles for the first three months before moving to powder formula since the baby's immune system is so fragile at first. Feeding was much easier than changing a diaper since she loved it. She would instantly stop crying and we would enjoy 30 minutes of piece and quiet. One thing that shocked us is that she ate so much. Feeding every two-three hours even throughout the night!
This brings us to the biggest challenge we had with our newborn, sleep or lack thereof. I don't know about you but we love our sleep and used to get plenty of it. Being tired or sleep deprived is something we never had to deal with. When you don't have a child you can sleep early, sleep in late or take a nap anytime. This luxury is something most people take for granted until they become parents. Getting up two-three times in the middle of the night is pretty tough but when see her beautiful face all your tiredness disappears and you're filled with this unconditional love. You don't feel tired for a second and when she gives you a little smile; it makes it all worth it.
The next day they actually let us bring her home. We were now 100% responsible for this new human being. This is what we had been planning for the past two years. Car seat: check; crib: all ready; wardrobe (and the other hundred things a baby needed in her nursery): easy for two gay dads. The one thing we couldn't plan for was the physical and emotional roller-coaster we would experience in that first month alone. It flew by so fast but the milestones and precious moments we had will last a lifetime. Just witness the hundreds of pictures and videos. Again, we felt like celebrities with family and friends visiting us every single day to witness our miracle Jasmine and congratulate us on finally being successful in the longest, toughest, but most rewarding journey of a lifetime!