Photo courtesy of Stacy Hayward
I had always hoped that, one day, I’d become a father. But it was far from certain that day would ever come. Building a non-traditional family takes a lot of work, and when my husband, Pierre, and I started the process, it felt like we were standing at the bottom of a mountain, looking up. There is no clear-cut process and, without an expert or agency to guide us, we just had to learn how to make that climb ourselves.
I come from a very large family—a very loud and active family—and I loved the idea of building on that. After taking a 12-week course at the local community centre called Daddies and Papas 2B, we decided that surrogacy was our preferred route. We approached a few agencies to find a gestational carrier, but to keep our options as wide as possible, we also put up a post on Facebook. We just put the energy out there and stood back to see what would happen.
As it happened—in fact, it was incredible happenstance—a colleague of a childhood friend of mine responded, saying that she had already been contemplating carrying a child for another couple. Finding a surrogate is largely about making an emotional connection and trusting your intuition, so we approached that first meeting with Ann as if it were a first date. When we met for brunch, the three of us had such an open conversation—we laughed a lot and got along from the first second—it was like love at first sight. That relationship only deepened as we got further into the process. There is a legal side to this, of course—we both engaged lawyers and had them draw up a contract—but so much of it is about trust, and we found that we could talk to Ann about anything.
After we picked an egg donor and the fertility clinic had several embryos, Ann started weekly appointments to prepare her body for the transfer. We made sure that we were at every one and, each time we met, it felt like our personalities jived more and more. By the time she was pregnant, we didn’t have a single concern about her intentions or her ability to carry a healthy pregnancy.
We talked and texted each other every day—and we still do today. That’s what surprised me most about this entire journey: I didn’t expect that we’d become so close, and it’s made our family that much bigger. Ann is a single mom to two kids. Over the past several months, we’ve also gotten to know her boys, her mother and her sister. There is just so much love in our lives now, and that’s only grown since our son, Augustine, was born.
It’s hard to describe the moment when Augustine was born. It became quite frantic at the very end because Ann’s labour was progressing so quickly. The nurses were yelling at me and Pierre to take our shirts off for skin-to-skin contact once the baby was born, and everything was happening all at once. I was able to catch the baby slightly, but I was too shaky to get the sterile gloves on for a full kind of catch, and Pierre cut the cord. It was hard to digest and process. We were so in awe—just overwhelmed with emotion.
That sense of awe continues to this day. Augustine has changed our lives in so many ways. Just watching Pierre take care of our son has made me fall so much deeper in love with him, and our relationship is so much deeper than I ever could have imagined. We’ve built our family from a place of pure love, which is where every family, regardless of gender or orientation, should be built. And we were lucky that we’ve also been able to bring Ann into our fold. She came into this with such a pure heart. It was really a true act of altruism to help us build our family, and we hope that Ann will remain an entrenched person in our lives.
This article was originally published online in April 2017.