My partner Ken and I have been together for over 20 years, and have finally decided to start a family. We could have gone the adoption route, but have seen too much rejection, long waiting times and disappointment, so we decided to hire an egg donor and surrogate instead! It took a while for us to agree on the right egg donor and surrogate, and after making those decisions, it took another 5 months to prepare the two girls for the embryo transfer! At first, we were going to split the eggs, and freeze Ken’s embryo, and transfer two of mine. The chances of both embryo surviving is not that great, so we figured that after the first transfer and birth, we would transfer Ken’s embryo a couple of years later. At the very last minute, we decided to transfer one embryo from each of us, and hope that both would make it! We are now about 20 weeks into the pregnancy, our surrogate is doing an amazing job, and both babies are doing great! We found out that we are having a boy and a girl, and it will be fun to see who has the boy and who has the girl, although each will be both of ours! We are naming them Nico and Kate, and although we won’t be official dads this Fathers’ Day, we certainly feel like we are and are so excited to actually be dads soon! We are so grateful to the amazing technology available to make this dream possible for us!
Excited Dads-to-be Ken & Beat
I work a compressed work week. This means I work Sunday through Tuesday night and every other Saturday night. At first I thought this was going to be a bad deal for my family, all I could think about were the things that I would potentially be missing out on. I never thought about the one on one time I would be able to have with our kids on my days off. I have talked to a couple of other parents who work a similar schedule to mine and have their kids in day care for their days off. This was not a thought that ever went through our minds, and I am glad this plan has stuck.
My first week home alone with our kids was an eye opening experience to say the least. They were 6 weeks old, my wife was finally feeling well enough to go back to work and it was my time to grab ahold of the reins by myself. I was in our bedroom changing my daughter while talking to my brother in law (who works at the same place I do) on the telephone. He was checking in seeing how my first couple of days by myself with the kids was going. I was telling him about all of the cute things they are doing and how it’s a lot of work but it is definitely worthwhile. I turned from my daughter on the changing table to grab a diaper, holding her feet up and making sure she was not going anywhere. Suddenly my side turned a bit warm and I thought that was odd. Well she apparently was not done with that diaper yet and decided to unload all over my side and most of the bed. The first thought that came to mind was “how can such a beautiful girl make that much of a nasty mess?” Having my brother in law on the phone did not help things much since he heard a reaction out of me and asked what was going on. Not thinking I told him and the laughter ensued, and continued for a while later once I was back on shift at work.
When my wife was pregnant with the kids I would often put music on in the living room while she rested on our bed. Apparently the kids enjoyed it because they would be having their own dance party going while the music played. Their enjoyment of music has not passed and I am happy about that. Listening to them sing songs that they hear, and making up new ones is always entertaining. From the Lullaby song, to Super Why they love them all.
Our family enjoys riding ATV’s at the Oregon dunes recreational area in North Bend. Our kids love camping and it is now a much better time for our family than it once was. All of these stages we go through make us appreciate them a bit more. On our first camping trip we lasted one night, it was too early for us and none of us slept a wink. During their first summer we were away at the dunes every holiday weekend, and the sleep was still difficult but at least they slept through. Our daughter never had much of an issue going to sleep, but our son wanted none of it. Couple that with camping in a trailer together, it made neither of them want to go to sleep at night. It was cute watching them in their playpens and look at each other, and talk amongst themselves. We now go camping and it is a great time. We have toys for them to play in the sand with, there are all sorts of critters for them to check out, and the family experience is awesome for everyone.
Recently we found an inflatable bounce house for a good deal. I think we were more excited about this find than the kids were at the time. We rushed home to set it up and the first place it landed was in the front yard. Keep in mind when we bought this it was relatively sight unseen. Just bundled up into a Rubbermaid tote with a price tag. We rolled it out in the dark and got it all setup. The kids couldn’t believe their eyes, they had played in these before but this one was at their home. After that first night of playing with them in it, each morning brought the same question “I want to go outside, play in the bounce house,” so I would set it up for them and we would play outside for the rest of the day. One morning I went up and got my daughter ready for our day together, followed by getting my son ready. I went into his room and his usual request of playing outside was the first thing he asked me. I thought it would be fun to play a joke on him and ask, “What if it snowed last night? Do you still want to go outside?” Granted it was May so snow was out of the question (well at least in previous years). His response was, “Uh… YEAH!” Realizing that he did not quite understand my joke we got ready and headed outside. The next week my wife tells me that he keeps saying it snowed outside when they would go down the stairs. She didn’t understand where it was coming from.
One evening while sitting at home with the family our kids started talking about lady bugs in the kitchen. My wife and I both figured they were just pretending and kinda shrugged it off. This is when I learned that lady bugs come in all shapes and sizes apparently. The kids had found a spider. Not being a fan of little spiders (the big ones don’t bother me, but the little ones I believe are far more unpredictable) I decided to take care of the ladybug for them. Well I should have thought this out a little better, now no bug is safe from being squished by a shoe. We also learned that dad can’t fix everything. Worms when broken apart are not fixable no matter how many tools dad has in his garage. This should make fishing this summer interesting though.
Working outside is something the kids have done with me since they have been able to crawl. It started out as them watching me work, either in the Beep Beep Jeep or the Johnny Jump Up but now they help out and that is a lot of fun. My daughter is a bit frightful of loud machines. The vacuum cleaner was her worst enemy until she was about 18 months old. My son doesn’t mind them, so recently when I was mowing the back yard I called him to help. He came over and I told him to hold onto the bar and help. We would get to the end of the row and I would show him where to stand to be out of harm’s way. Once we were ready to begin again he would come over and help. When we were getting ready to mow one day I grabbed a shovel and started picking up landmines. My daughter asked what I was doing and I explained to her. Now she is the dog poo police. She has also learned where to find bugs in the back yard. They are underneath the weeds that dad pulls. This turned into a good deal for me. She wants bugs so she pulls weeds. The worms are a favorite, but beetles are even better in her eyes. The first time she came to me with a beetle asking what it was, I was surprised she was holding it. Not that it would hurt her but they are a creepy looking unit.Our kids will be celebrating their 3rd birthday September 6th. They have taught me as many things as I have tried to teach them. We have a relationship that many fathers don’t get to experience with their children. I value this more than anything. We have a great time together, fixing things around the house, finding bugs in the backyard, learning that the air vents in the car are not a good place to put change, finding out how to get said change out of the air vents, and many more that I will not bore you with. Cherish your time with your family. In our time of running around, trying to take care of everything, make them your number one priority. These are the times that the family will all remember.
FHM Husband to Tiffany, Dad to Cami & Ty, 2.5 years old
In the fall of 2005, as the nights were getting cooler and the leaves were starting to change, I fell in love with Gary. He was tall, smart, funny, sarcastic, thoughtful, and about 30 other adjectives (all jotted down in an orange Moleskin notebook, of course) that signaled the end of my single mom day. I invited him over one evening in early October to meet four-year-old Soren. They briefly shook hands and then settled in to watch an uproariously funny (at least to a couple of boys) episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos. Little did I know, the relationship between Gary and Soren that started that night would grow and deepen just as my own relationship with Gary was growing and strengthening.
I can’t imagine a present-day Soren without six years of Gary in his life. How would his interests and skills have developed without Gary? Would Soren have developed an interest in aircraft without a stepdad who worked in aviation? Would he have learned to explain how an internal combustion engine worked before the age of five? Would he have an encyclopedic knowledge of World War II? Would he know and use the “English” words “trainers” and “windscreen” instead of “tennis shoes” and “windshield” without an English stepfather?
Gary has taught Soren about aircraft. He’s taught him to golf. He’s spent hours with him building rocket ships out of plywood and assembling model airplanes and rockets (and then loosing them on unsuspecting neighborhoods near the parks and fields where they launch and fly them). He’s taught him about inertia and the Mars Rover and material composition and model aircraft.
Sure, there have been some less than heart-warming moments. Soren still refuses to laugh at the time Gary forced our picky eater to try a tomato. Maybe with time that wound will heal. So far, it’s not even helped by the memory of when new-dad Gary let four-year-old Soren have a chocolate pudding cup for breakfast thinking it was just another yogurt.
I am thankful every day that Gary came into my life and into Soren’s. Meeting Gary makes me believe that things happen for a reason, that they happen the way they’re supposed to happen. I can’t imagine Soren being Soren without Gary in his life. And without Gary in his life, Soren also wouldn’t have his younger brother and sister. He wouldn’t have the life we’ve built together.
Today is our Warnerversary, the one-year anniversary of Gary adopting Soren. One year ago today, the man that had raised and supported and loved Soren for five years officially became his father. We celebrated last year with chocolate cake. The two of them will celebrate this year with a night of laser tag and a dinner out. I will spend some quiet time at home being grateful for things working out the way they did, being grateful for an amazing husband and father to all three of my children.
Wife to Gary & Mom to Soren