We grew a baby….

I really can’t believe that it’s been almost 5 years since our first born, Wil, came into our life. I remember it like it was yesterday. What a day. Changed our life forever.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The excitement started when we found out we were expecting our first child.

I’ve already told the story of the day Lorna bought the positive pregnancy test around. The thrill and joy we felt then didn’t diminish for us throughout her entire pregnancy. What I wasn’t expecting though, was just how scared and fearful I’d be throughout the entire thing. Scared that something would go wrong. Scared that the baby we wanted so much would be hurt. Or worse. Scared that we would lose the child we already loved. I wasn’t used to such an irrational fear. I had always been level headed and optimistic. After all, my head knew that Lorna had already carried two healthy children. Why would it be any different this time? I just couldn’t help it. Never had I wanted something more.

It was odd for us. Lorna lived 2 hours away from us in Sussex, so the time we could spend with her was limited. We made sure though that we attended every pre-natal appointment with her. The first time we heard Wils heart beat will stay with me forever. I’d almost convinced myself for no reason that it wouldn’t be there. Deep inside I think I couldn’t believe that we deserved this opportunity and therefore it was clearly going to end badly. We walked into the room and my heart was in my mouth. All the tension and fear I felt though melted away when we heard his heart beat . Strong and loud. Like a train chugging proudly down a track. I couldn’t help but look at Ivan and cry with relief.

Strangely it didn’t get any easier for the subsequent scans and remainder of Lorna’s pregnancy. There was never anything wrong. We had a strong and healthy baby growing. Every scan, every appointment proved just how silly I was being. I just couldn’t help it.

I must have bugged the he’ll out of her calling all the time and asking how she was. Trouble was as we weren’t with her often so I needed constant updates to feel involved. The scans were amazing. Overwhelming. Unbelievable. I was so proud. Proud of Lorna. Proud of Ivan. Proud of us. We had a 3d scan too in order to see Wil again. It was the most amazing feeling seeing him on that screen.

When we weren’t with Lorna we just spoke endlessly about how it would be when we had our son. At the 20 week scan we found out he was going to a boy. We were so happy. If only for the simple fact that we’d both easily agreed on the name William. But for the life of us couldn’t agree on a girls name. Ivan had some rather odd ideas as to what was a good girls name. So, having a boy saved a hell of a lot of arguing.

The day we got that phone call was overwhelming. Lorna rang us the morning of 10th July 2009. She had been in labour for a while,  but still early stages. Given the distance we had to travel we agreed that we would head over and stay at my Mums which was only 5 minutes from my sister. We got there late afternoon and eagerly awaited a call to say we should head over. Not only was Lorna bravely having our baby, she also decided that she wanted to have him at home. I didn’t have a sister I had a wonder woman. Perhaps she really is an angel.

We’d been waiting very impatiently all afternoon when we got the phone call. Unfortunately the phone call was to say that labour had stopped. Frustrated we decided the only thing we could do was drink wine at my Mums to pass the time. After all, we were going to be parents. Surely it would be one of our last opportunities.

I had drunk enough to feel merry and forget the frustration of labour when the phone rang again. This time it was to say that labour had started again and was going full throttle.

Shit!  I was half pissed. I couldn’t let my sister know I had been so irresponsible. She was selflessly suffering for us while I sat back and drunk. I put on a sober voice and agreed we’d get our heads down and they would call as soon as it seemed imminent. I guiltily put my head to the pillow praying I would sober up in time.

The final call came a couple of hours later. About midnight I guess. Thankfully the adrenaline completely sobered me and we headed straight over. We arrived and Lorna was upstairs. Her house was busy with 2 midwives and the sound of painful screaming. I would like to say I felt guilty, but all I felt was a bubbling excitement at the fact that we would shortly be parents.

We’d agreed with Lorna that we could be there for the birth but not actually in the room. In Lorna’s words she knew what a bitch she was in labour. I was just massively relieved that I wouldn’t be seeing too much of my sister!

We waited nervously downstairs. We were so excited but so scared. I don’t remember what we talked about I just remembered keep looking at each other when her screams broke the silence. We had to move from room to room as Lorna moved around; upstairs, downstairs, bathroom, bedroom. It was endless. I thought they’d said he’d be there any moment. 4 hours passed and it seemed the midwifes were getting worried. They didn’t say anything, just seemed more serious and had more conversations that we couldn’t hear. Lorna was doing so well,  but was clearly getting tired from all the work she was doing on only gas and air.

I didn’t have to say anything to Ivan to know he was as worried as me. That delightful feeling was starting to sit as a knot in my stomach. We moved closer to each other and held each other in silent support. Then the moment came that the midwife told us that they were going to move Lorna to the hospital. She had made no progress for a few hours and was physically drained. Lorna needed assistance that they couldn’t give her at home.

Lorna was on her own in the bedroom whilst the midwives made arrangements for an ambulance on the phone. One of the midwifes went back into the bedroom and I heard a cry of “we’ve got a baby”. In one desperate effort whilst on her own Lorna had managed to deliver our baby. The midwives helped fully deliver him and laid him on her chest before calling us up. I looked on overwhelmed with love and amazement as Ivan cut the chord binding my amazing sister and our precious son William Campbell. We had a kiss and fed him, lost in the amazement of him. He was perfect. A beautiful bundle that was to be the start of our real journey together.

William Campbell was born on 11th July 2009 at 05:09hrs weighing 9lb 6oz. And he was perfect.

Little were we to know the media madness that was to shortly follow….

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Mean daddy?!

Mean daddy?!

I love this photo. I love the fact that the kids are still young enough to have little or no control over it. Over Daddy effectively making them look like funny, but slightly creepy villainous characters. Is that wrong?! I must add, that despite the look on their faces, they were loving our impromptu photo shoot. If I’m honest, I was giggling so much that I must have quelled any resistance they had. Either that or I chose to ignore it!
This is definitely being blown up and taking pride of place on our wall.

Tummy Mummy’s Tale

lornaWhen I tell my story about being a surrogate for my brother and Ivan to friends, one of the questions I get asked a lot is how the conversation came up … if I’m completely truthful I can’t really remember as in the whole scheme of things that part of the story is insignificant. What is significant is that I said yes, obviously there was a lot of questions to be asked and plans to be put in place both personally and legally but once that was done the, uh hum, fun began.

After googling ‘artificial insemination at home’ the turkey baster and ovulation kit were purchased, and once said kit showed the correct two day window of opportunity I travelled to Steve and Ivan’s house. I think it’s true to say we were all a little awkward but after some rather boring small talk Ivan disappeared alone into the bedroom (I should add I made the decision to use my egg as it would just be wasted otherwise and it was that part of my brothers DNA, therefore we clearly couldn’t use Steven’s sperm) several minutes later Ivan put a cup of his sample in my room (in a pink spirit glass) and after half an hr I disappeared to inseminate myself with said turkey baster (without going into too much detail and embarrassing everyone .. it’s safe to say the practicality of the turkey baster was lost on me but all went technically well after an embarrassing to the chemist to purchase a syringe.

Waiting for the couple of weeks until I could take a test were awful and I was so excited to give “the boys” their first child that when the first two months produced negative tests I cried for hours. After the third month I knew I was pregnant … and took the test a few days early, even before I got the call from my little brother who was finding it very hard to control his excitement and anticipation. When the test came back positive we bundled straight into the car and drove an hour to the boys house and presented them with the test.

If I could frame that moment and look at it every day I’m sure I would never feel down again, it was amazing and emotionally exhilarating … we were having a baby – two men and a tummy mummy – and we toasted that moment with champagne in pink glasses!

xx

Our Angel: A Child is Born (well conceived)

Ivan and I got together in early 2008. We’d known each other for about 4 or 5 years before that, but it wasn’t until both our circumstances changed that we opened our eyes and realised we wanted to be together. Forever. I’m not quite sure who he pissed off. Or just how bad he was in a former life. But he was stuck with me. Personally,  I couldn’t have been happier, he’s hot. And actually a really nice person too. He makes me laugh, he’s clever, and kind. And he truly cares for me. How could I be happier!

Then my sister Lorna aka ‘The Angel’ came along and threw that idea out of the window.

It was early summer of the same year that Lorna came and visited us. Now I can’t quite remember how the conversation started; maybe that’s down to child induced dementia, or maybe one too many drunken nights at the aforementioned gay bar, or maybe simply because subsequent events took over and shadowed it. What I do remember however is that we were both gob smacked. I remember we were sat at our dining table and Lorna said something like “I think you guys would make great Dad’s and I would like to have a baby for you.”

Oh my god!

Now I know Ivan had always wanted kids. He was great with our nieces and nephew’s and he’d previously explored the idea of fostering. Me, I love kids too. But I love to give them back. We had previously had that conversation, about kids, we’d both agreed that we’d love them. But, in reality, we’d never really considered it was an option. Certainly not in that way. The notion was up there with unicorns and fairies. Ok, maybe not the latter. We’d both had enough experience of them to know they really did exist. Our own baby though? We’re gay. It’s unheard of. Certainly in our circle. Sure, we had friends who had children in straight relationships and then come out. But to create or own? Was it even legal?!

Funny thing is we didn’t even have to look at each other to know the answer we’d end up giving. I remember turning to look at Ivan and seeing the hope in his eyes. I’m sure he must have seen the same reflected in mine. There was a childish excitement to his face. A flush to his cheeks, maybe caused by the wine, but more likely sheer delight.

My memory fails me again on how the rest of the evening went. Definitely alcohol this time. My sister left for a weekend break and we all agreed to think about it and meet a couple of days later to discuss things rationally. All Ivan and I could do was discuss baby names and nursery colours. We tried to do the adult thing, to be honest we, ok me, struggle with that most of the time. We did manage to get a list of questions together for when Lorna returned. The biggest being ‘what if you can’t give the baby up?’ Lorna was blessed enough to have two beautiful daughters of her own and she was adamant that she didn’t want more. In the end we decided to taker her word for it. After all,  what more could we do? We thought about a legal contract but Ivan and I both said that if the unthinkable happened and she couldn’t give up the baby then no legal document could force a break in that bond. Of course we had loads more questions that we tossed backward and forward…… I think we all knew that we were going to go ahead with things. How on earth could we miss such a gift being offered to us. It was our chance to lead the life we’d always wanted. The life we’d discussed. The chance to be a ‘normal’ family.  To cut a really long story short we said yes please.

We consulted with Natalie Gamble the leading solicitor in surrogacy issues. Through this we discovered that at the time it was not legal for persons who were unmarried…and a civil partnership wasn’t good enough…. to use a UK surrogate to have a baby. You could go to America and do it, but then there were complications around parental rights on returning to the UK with said child.

There was hope however. Changes in the human fertility and embryology act that were going through parliament would mean that unmarried partners could use a UK surrogate to have a baby as long as no payment was made amongst other requirements. I must stress. This was a consequential result of the act being changed and not an intentional alteration to allow same sex couples to have a baby. Thank fuck for that oversight!

It was going to take some time for the act to go through parliament, but we were convinced it would. In the meantime we knew that as my sister would be having the baby using Ivans sperm and her own egg we could have parental responsibility through kinship fostering.

We decided to start as soon as possible. Why delay.

Now we established Lorna’s most fertile dates, purchased a turkey baster, and invited her over. I won’t post details, but Ivan did the deed and we despatched Lorna into the guest room with the glass full, well not quite full, and the aforementioned items. Lorna emerged some time later. We all looked at each other awkwardly. Had a cup of tea. Then repeated the process. Lorna left and we eagerly awaited her call a couple of weeks later to say she was pregnant. We were gutted when she didn’t fall the first time. I know. It was so unlikely to happen straight off, but we lived in hope. Still, we weren’t giving up!

The next month we met again. Same routine. Sadly same result.

The following month we met again. Same routine. Different tool. Lorna decided the turkey baster just wasn’t up to the job.  I never thought I would visit the chemist and ask for the biggest syringe they had but I’m bloody glad I did. We waited like we had the previous two months. This time Lorna visited a few days before she was due on. She was supposedly delivering a bird cage to us. I can’t believe we were so dumb to believe that.

Our Angel walked through our door and in her hand was a positive pregnancy test!  Dam her, the bitch made us cry!  Once we had finished crying we danced around the kitchen in glee, hugging and kissing her.

Lorna. You truly are our Angel. You have given us the greatest gift in the world. Words cannot express our love and gratitude to you and your family.

We were going to be Dad’s!!!

 

 

 

late nights and lost socks…

late nights and lost socks...

As I settled down into bed and reached to turn my bedside light off I realised a few things; 1- I was having an unintended late night (its after 10pm you see). 2- It might be milk, but it’s in a cobra glass so it counts as beer right?!  3-  Sadly I’ll be glad it’s not beer and that I have a clear head in the morning when I’m looking for the mate to that God dam frikkin’ sock. How life changes 🙂 Lots of love, S xx ps – fuck knows what the pen means

Finding Gold

wineI was sitting in the garden the other evening with a glass of wine having just put our gorgeous sons to bed. The sun was setting over the fields and as I felt the glow of the evening sun warming my face I took a few moments to reflect on just how lucky I am.

I love my life. I am a gay man. I’m 34 years old this September. I have an amazing husband in Ivan and I am the proudest father of our 3 wonderful boys; Wil 4, L, 2 and C 1. We live in a beautiful cottage in Hampshire which overlooks fields and woodlands. We share this with our range of animals from dogs to chickens and horses to turtles and numerous others in-between (more about them in another post!). We adore where we live and are always out in the garden with the kids. We also grow our own vegetables, well if I’m honest, Ivan does most of the growing!

I really am living my idyllic existence. I have found my pot of gold at the end of the Rainbow. My children. My family. My life.

Ten years ago I would never have imagined myself where I am now. I was young(ish), gay, and carefree; living the life that suited me at the time. I could be found most weekends drunk at the local gay bar where I lived at the time in Sussex. I would be at the gym all the time and holiday as and when I wanted. My meals were mostly take out or eat out. If I wanted something I bought it. I worked to fund my carefree life and I loved it – I still look back on it and smile. I imagined that this is how I would always live my life. After all I had the pink pound. The option of kids would never be open to me. My money would always be my own! How wrong!

Roll on 10 years. I have no money. Time is not mine, it’s the kids. If I want it I can go whistle. A holiday is a weekend camping up the horse field. Getting drunk is an evening in with my better half and the TV and an early start with the kids and a bleary head. Do you know though, I wouldn’t change it for a second. Yes I would love to have more money to make those stresses easier and yes I would love a weekend just me and Ivan in a nice hotel, with a nice meal and a bottle of wine and more than anything I would love a holiday lying on a beach somewhere getting tanned. But, if it meant giving up anything I have, its not going to happen. Nor would I want it to.

After all. Those things don’t matter. What really matters to me now is that the kids are happy and healthy and clothed and fed and exposed to a life that is full of adventure, fun and opportunity. This makes me happy. Hey, I can always lay on the decking next to the kids paddling pool with a glass of red can’t I!

Wil our eldest was born through surrogacy in 2009 – an amazing gift from my sister and the first child born to a UK surrogate ever.  L joined our family through adoption in 2012 and C by the same route in 2014.

My god I have so much more to say , so this will have to suffice as an introduction for now. Rest assured that I will be boring you with the wheres and why fors in the days and weeks to come. In the meantime if there’s anything you want to know or any areas you want me to touch on in this blog, please email me at pondersigston@aol.com or comment below.

Lots of love

S xx