We can’t believe you’re here.
Three weeks ago, you showed up in the world. But your mom and I weren’t sure if we’d ever get the chance to hold you.
It’s a long story, but I’ll start here: A few years ago, your mom and I decided we wanted to have a baby. (You!) So many of our friends decided they wanted to have a baby, too, and 10 or 12 months later, a beautiful baby arrived. We assumed that we’d be like them: We wanted a baby, so we’d have one — probably right away.
But we had no idea how hard having a baby would be.
We had one miscarriage, and then a second. We tracked everything we could possibly track. We had our blood tested (totally normal), peed on sticks (ew), and were forced to ejaculate into cups (double ew). We had so much sex that, by the end of certain weeks, your mom and I had to give each other pep talks before trying again.
We had doctors tell us that nothing was wrong with us — we were just unlucky! Take these giant pills that smell like fish food four times a day, every day, for the next month, then try again! Everything’s fine!
Everything was not fine.
We were told that nothing was wrong with us, but when the outcome you want never happens, it’s tough not to feel like something might be wrong — and it might be you.
We started to have serious conversations: Why did we want to be parents? What would we be willing to do to become parents?
We told ourselves that if we couldn’t have you, it would be OK. The life your mom and I had, before you? It was enough.
But we still wanted you in our lives.
So we talked about our options. Sex wasn’t working, and IUI (as your mother called it: The Turkey Baster method) didn’t either. So then we came to IVF: In vitro fertilization.
We have relatives and friends who conceived via IVF. It’s not cheap, and it’s not easy. We were lucky — beyond lucky — to have the money and time to try.
Deciding to do IVF meant all sorts of changes in our lives.
IVF meant intense monitoring of your mom’s lab values and ovaries.
IVF meant that I had to learn how to give your mom shots, and not always at home. I gave her shots in hotels, in restaurant bathrooms, and once in a public hallway outside the Eataly at the World Trade Center. (The person who walked by mid-shot simply ignored us — maybe the greatest act of kindness we’ve ever been given.)
IVF meant getting middle-of-the-day voicemails about the quality of my sperm and your mom’s eggs, and it becoming as normal as checking the weather forecast.
IVF meant that friends were sometimes too scared to tell us that they were pregnant, even though we were truly, always happy for them.
IVF meant lots of conversations with other moms and dads who’d gone through IVF. Your mom had it so much harder than me, but there were still questions I had to ask that they don’t teach in Sex Ed. How do you, exactly, masturbate into a tiny cup? Sitting? Standing? What should you watch when producing your half of a child by yourself? Let’s say you’re in the doctor’s office, and the TV seems to be stuck on English-subtitled Chinese stepmom porn. Do you call the nurse for help? The front desk? Just click buttons until you figure out how to change it? (Son, I’m proud to tell you: I clicked, and I figured it out.)
IVF meant waiting — lots and lots of waiting.
IVF meant taking home what will forever be our first photo of you: A collection of tiny cells under a microscope.
IVF meant walking back and forth, sometimes a few times a week, to that doctor’s office on Madison Avenue, sitting in the waiting room with dozens of other men and women who wanted to be parents as badly as we did.
IVF meant walking out of that same doctor’s office one day, having just gotten wonderful news about you, and pretending like we hadn’t, because we knew so many people in the waiting room weren’t getting the news they wanted that day.
IVF meant holding our breath at every appointment, every week, for months, even long after the doctors told us that you were doing great and that things would be OK.
IVF meant discovering that so many other people were going through infertility too, or had gone through IVF. It meant sharing stories — some funny, some angry, some sad — to help others understand that they weren’t alone in their infertility journey.
IVF meant big changes: Turning my office into your nursery. Learning how to install a car seat. Figuring out parental leave and childcare.
IVF meant that one day, in early July, we had the incredible joy to finally watch you come into this world.
And yes, we know that someday, you’re going to ask us where babies will come from. Your friends might ask their parents the same question, and they’ll probably start by saying, “Well, when two parents love each other…”
But not your mom and I. When you ask, we’ll tell you the truth: Babies come from a special doctor’s office on Madison Avenue, across from a Balenciaga.
You, Ben, like everything at Balenciaga, weren’t cheap! But you are perfect.
We’re so grateful — to the doctors and nurses and techs who made you possible. To the friends and family who supported us along the way. And most of all, Ben, to you, for making us parents.
We love you.
-Dad and Mom
The very talented Abbie Sophia took that photo of the three of us.