Chris and Mike tell us about their life as new dads, their daughter's birth through surrogacy and how the highs and lows of parenthood are universal.
Our beautiful daughter Lucille is now almost a year, and it feels like a lifetime since we were sitting in our first NCT class, anticipating her arrival. The classes were a good starting point, but they gave us so much more, not least the invaluable friends we made.
It has been essential to have a handful of like-minded new parents who we can call upon to ask the most random, and sometimes slightly ridiculous, questions. I guess the questions never end, but they have become less random, and certainly less ridiculous now we have a robust little crawler who laughs and mimics us at every given moment – we really have to watch what we say in front of her.
We had to interpret our antenatal classes in a slightly different way from the other parents, as we are a male same-sex couple who had our child with a special friend who agreed to help us become parents through surrogacy.
"It surprised me how many times I had to answer the question, ‘but where is her mum?"
Our friends in our NCT group always treated us as just another couple, but the same accepting attitude was not always apparent in the wider world – ranging from waiters to healthcare professionals. I guess it’s the way life is set up: people are used to there being a mum and dad and if there’s any variation on that, they have questions that are sometimes a little tiresome, and even intrusive.
During the first few months after Lucille’s birth, it surprised me how many times I had to answer the question, ‘but where is her mum?’. I wondered how someone would cope with that question if they had been a new dad who had lost their female partner in childbirth.
Having the birth we wanted
One healthcare professional who couldn’t have been more understanding was the head midwife at the hospital where our surrogate gave birth to Lucille.
She was kind enough to meet us well in advance of the birth to discuss our birth plan, which was important because the hospital had never previously dealt with a surrogacy arrangement, let alone with two male parents.
"It was also important that everyone involved understood that it was Mike and I who were Lucille’s parents."
Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.
We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.
Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.
Read more about the parenting issues facing same-sex parents on the website, Pink Parents
Visit the We Are Family Magazine, a community resource and platform for social change, representing lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in a family context through positive representation, advice and support.
Stonewall has 'A guide for gay dads' with helpful information and advice.