About five years ago, I was very happy living the gay life. Me and my partner Huw enjoyed loads of holidays, working on decadent design projects, investing in property, lots of lovely meals out and generally having a bloody good time.
But something was missing. I come from a large family; one of seven, and I have loads of nieces and nephews and seven great nieces and nephews so family is really important to me. As I was approaching the big 40, I thought ‘is this it?’
Of course the holidays and the decadent lifestyle were great, but was I really going to be happy doing this for the next 40 years? The answer was no.
I broached the topic of kids with Huw and the possibility of adoption. At the time, it was getting more common for gay couples to adopt, so for me this was a viable option. But not for Huw. Adoption wasn’t on his radar and he felt if we were going to have a child, he wanted to go a different route.
During a winter sun holiday in LA and Palms Springs in 2012, we became aware of more same sex couples with children. This immediately pulled at my heart strings and the urge to have children grew.
So we began to look into surrogacy. We were introduced to the idea through our circle of friends, and had seen celebrities such as Tom Ford and Elton John and his partner David recently go through the same process. Once we understood more, it suddenly became doable, albeit at a price! Luckily we were in a good position and decided to go for it.
We chose to go the bio-parent route, meaning that one of us would be the sperm donor. We also decided we’d use an egg donor, as this would make things emotionally more straightforward for a non-biological surrogate.
To be honest at this time, we both approached the process as if it were a project, and went through it stage by stage so it wasn’t such a head fuck. We tackled every barrier bit by bit. Huw is wonderfully grounded in his emotions and was great at helping me balance mine whilst trying to ensure our surrogate had a great experience as well. When it came to choosing a surrogate we were pretty clear that we wanted someone who was a bit older, who had a family and had been a surrogate before, with the support of a loving partner.
For us, the whole thing was about the people involved and we wanted, and needed, the surrogate to be fully on board with this and to be involved in our child’s life after he or she was born.
For us, the whole thing was about the people involved and we wanted, and needed, the surrogate to be fully on board with this and to be involved in our child’s life after he or she was born. On meeting Regina we knew she was perfect and very much who we wanted. She shared with us all her previous experiences, which hadn’t ended quite the way she had hoped, we shared our values, hopes and dreams and she immediately helped to put us at ease and made our choice very easy.
Next we had to pick the egg donor. As Huw was providing one side, it was important to me that we picked someone who looked a bit like me and my family. I have some very strong female role models in my family who are clever and gritty and I wanted our egg donor to represent that. It took a while but through an agency we eventually found the perfect match. Then we were underway!
The process happened quickly. We made the decision in November 2012, we signed the papers in January 2013, were matched with Regina that month and met her in March. I can’t tell you how happy we were, and are, with Regina. I remember we all went out for lunch at Soho House in L.A with her and her family and had an amazing time. We were so touched when she told us how proud she was to help us.
The process after that consisted of the doctors getting the two women cycled together and in sync, which took us to July. When we started fertility treatment we were told that we’d probably get around 15-20 eggs. We got eight, and only four or five of those were of sufficient quality.
When it came time for fertilisation, Huw did his bit! The one thing I remember was the room where you go to do your ‘bit’ was busy, so he had to go into a janitor’s cupboard. Not exactly glamorous, but he managed; he’s a trooper.
The doctor did assure us there was very little chance of the two eggs producing two babies – his immortal words were that the likelihood was about 5%.
The first transfer happened, but Regina felt it didn’t go well and sadly, she was right. We then had to wait for another month and a half before we could try again. The doctor we used had a very high success rate but with only two eggs left he advised us to use both at the same time to increase the chances of success. He did assure us there was very little chance of the two eggs producing two babies – his immortal words were that the likelihood was about 5%.
Whilst we were awaiting news Huw and I decided to go on, what could be, our last holiday and sailed around Ibiza on a yacht. On 17th August 2013, as we were coming off the boat, we got the call that we were pregnant… with twins!
We were stunned, excited, overwhelmed and in shock that we were having not one, but two babies; Huw was lying down with a cold compress, that sort of thing! As a result of there now being two babies we had to re-do everything: all the legal papers, insurance, Regina’s agreement – the lot.
During the rest of the time whilst we waited for the twins to arrive, we talked about everything in minute detail. We decided on our roles, who would stay at home more, what our values were and how we were going to bring these two amazing people up together.
Huw has his own business and I worked full-time so we agreed to use nannies to support us, but we knew we both wanted to be incredibly hands on.
At the time, I was working for Twining’s Tea and ran the team looking after direct consumer retail so it was a pretty big job. I went to my bosses and they were extremely supportive and reacted so well to what we were doing. They saw me as a key employee and gave me six months paternity leave which was amazing.
Huw’s team also stepped up massively and ensured the magazines were running smoothly in his absence and we were so excited when both Charlotte (who is Huw’s good friend and managing editor) as well as Mario Testino both agreed to be godparents.
We didn’t need to showcase our life, we were just living it with these two amazing little people. You become facilitators and all that matters is making sure they have amazing experiences and enjoy their life.
When they arrived (Amelie and Atticus) it suddenly was not about me or us anymore and it was overwhelmingly brilliant. We didn’t need to showcase our life, we were just living it with these two amazing little people. You become facilitators and all that matters is making sure they have amazing experiences and enjoy their life.
I wasn’t particularly gifted at school but I did come from a gifted family and I know there was a lot of expectation on Huw to succeed. We don’t want to put that on them. We want to let them be, and give enough support in order for them to find their own way as people.
Regina remains a part of our lives. She is also godmother to both of them and we see her and her family once a year and Skype regularly. The twins refer to her as ‘surro mommy’ as we want them to know where they came from and how they got here. We try and normalise it, even though I guess it’s just a ‘new normal’.
I take them to a rugby class (which I have to say my daughter holds no prisoners at!) and remember when we first started taking them, a few of the men there asked if my wife was at home. I’m very honest and quite upfront and just said that my husband was at home having a lie in. Some of them didn’t really know how to deal with me, but now, two terms in, it’s perfectly normal and they are my ‘rugby men friends’.
The twins are now three and we utterly love being their dads (I’m called Papa). We have no preconceptions or pressures on them; we just want them to interact, live and experience life. Helping them do that is the best job in the world.