From The 519 blog June 19th, 2012
Five-month-old Griffyn isn’t afraid to nap with an audience. The mix of conversation between long-time, new and prospective dads and their kids didn’t keep him from catching shut-eye at The 519’s and the LGBTTQ Parenting Network’s Dads & Grads 2012 Fabulous Fathers’ Day Picnic. One of his dads, Brixton, brought him to the event to meet other families like their own.
“It’s great to connect with other people’s experiences,” says Brixton on the phone a few days later. “Right now, I only know two other families that are like mine, so it’s nice to see that there are others”.
“And to learn we have common experiences and shared experiences but everyone’s experiences are also different. So it’s interesting to see how other people families came to be,” he says, alluding to he and his partner’s Vinder’s path after taking the Daddies and Papas 2 Be course for gay/bisexual/queer men considering parenthood almost eight years ago.
After several attempts to have a baby with help from three different surrogates over several years, Griffyn entered the world earlier this year. Despite the challenges they faced, Brixton says, “I’m sort of glad all those ‘tries’ failed because it was the universe conspiring, and it had to happen this way.”
Eventually, they used a surrogate that their friends used successfully on two occasions, and the next thing they knew they were picking up their son from the hospital.
“It was kind of meant to be, it was very Alchemist. I’m quite happy. It was a longer wait but I think it’s because that’s how it to had to be,” says Brixton. “Griffyn is such a wonderful addition to our family. We’re very lucky.”
“And hopefully, we’ll be starting again in the fall,” he adds. “Our ‘surro-mom’ got the green light to go ahead, and we got our egg donor in line. It’s just a matter of timing everything and hopefully, I’ll be going on parental leave again.”
The constancy of fatherhood
Balancing the needs of parenthood with your own has definitely tested Vinder’s and Brixton’s limits. I applaud Brixton’s transparency when he shares just how difficult parenting can be.
“I kind of jokingly said when [Griffyn] was really young, like one or two months,‘Having Griffyn reminds me of how much I love love love love love infants when they’re someone else’s’,” he jokes.
“The one thing that I guess surprised me was the fact it’s just constant, right? You’re always ‘on.’ …The whole constant thing of it, that’s the challenge.”
When Griffyn had a bit of jaundice, Brixton and Vinder had to feed him every two hours to keep him hydrated. “By the time I finished, I took a 30-minute sleep and had to feed him again,” Brixton remembers. “So that was the challenge, the constancy of it. Your time is not your own. You can’t just go and watch the Avengers movie.”
Brixton says it’s worth it though: “Of course, it’s new in the game and I’m sure there will be other challenges that we face that will push us a little bit – the teen years and whatever – but so far, he’s really good. I wouldn’t change a thing and we’re very happy.”
Impact on your relationship
Brixton can’t find the words to describe how his relationship with Vinder has changed now that Griffyn is in their life. When he pinpoints them, he realizes how their relationship has morphed into a more traditional family.
“We were still family but to have a kid means you’re really a family,” he says deepening his voice. “…I feel very lucky that I have we’re here to support each other. Although I’m the one that’s taken the time off, Vinder’s just so involved, he’s just so into it. Sometimes when he’s just getting home from work, I don’t want him to have to do things but he’s in there.
“Bath time is their time. It’s great. It’s special. It’s a totally different bonding experience … more than ever, we’ve learned to work as a team,” Brixton says, not knowing that his words tug at my chest through the phone.
Brixton’s also learned not to criticize when he and his partner approach things in different ways. (Crucial knowledge for families and couples alike.)
“He does things so much differently than I would. I have to stand back when he’s changing a diaper and think, ‘Okay, I’m not going to say anything…I have a more efficient way of doing this.’ But, you know, it doesn’t matter. I don’t think that’s a function of having a baby – we have a different ways of doing things period, right?”
I nod – vigorously.
Brixton’s advice for prospective dads
There are some things Brixton says he’d do differently when he looks back at his journey towards parenthood with Vinder. He hopes prospective dads will take his perspective to heart.
“Take the steps and start. If it’s adoption then get your family profile, get your home study, get started. And once the ball is rolling, go with it. I think there’s so much information out there about ‘Do this’ and ‘Do that’,” he says.
There’s a lot of informative to sift through out there but Brixton believes getting started with the right intentions will help dads know what’s right for themselves and their kids. From the mounds of advice he and Vinder received from friends and family, Brixton offers two favorites.
First, upon the guidance from their friend’s four-year-old son, they feed, love and give Griffyn lots of ‘zurberts.’ “We do all three and it’s worked wonders. He’s very happy content baby.”
Second, another parent advised them to get Griffyn sleeping his crib as soon as they could. “We did that in his second month…and now he pretty much sleeps through the night. Getting him used to that means we have a life, we can sleep in our bed and do what people do. Have some alone time.”
Duly noted by this one day hopeful parent.