My name is Juan Luque, and I was born in a small town in the mountains in northern Argentina. I am the oldest child in a family of seven, and since I can remember, children were not my cup of tea. There were too many children in my household, and I never felt I got enough attention, toys, food or even boundaries. Since I was nine years old, I always dreamed of the moment when I would become a successful adult and leave my family to live on my own. My town was not the most gay-friendly environment, I would say, and the pressure my dad put on me to be a responsible and exemplary brother was enough to make me wish I were somebody else. After years of struggling to find myself and fit in, I landed in U.S. with a co-dependent relationship, a dog and four suitcases.
I was determined to be a successful architect. Soon enough I joined the corporate world and became a frenetic consumer of the American Dream. I got the German car, the house, the 45 credit cards and a total sense of despair when I realized materialistic goals alone don’t make a happy life.
For some time, I felt lost and wasn’t sure what to do of my life. I was too dark to be white, too light to be black, too European to be Latino, and too Latino to be American. I never felt I fit in the gay community either, except when I was at a bar doing what everybody does in a bar. All of a sudden, you feel you have known the guy sitting next to you forever but the next day you don’t even remember his name.
One day out of the blue, well actually to be honest out of a dating site, I found this guy who happen to be a few blocks away from me. We lived in the same city for near 10 years before but never crossed paths before until now. We have so many things so oddly in common that our first date was a very long conversation. A phone call the next day lead to lunch, lunch to dinner, and two or three weeks later he was in my bed holding a cup of coffee. That’s when I realized this was something serious.
He quickly moved to my place “temporarily” since he was going to buy a house soon, and it didn’t make sense to get into a new lease for a whole year. While we were getting to know each other, one day he told me about his big dream to become a father. I asked, “Why?” Life is so much easier without kids. We didn’t touch the subject again until one day I found him painting the spare room of his new house in a very light green color. I asked why was he using such a lame color? He responded, “This is the baby’s room—the nursery.”
An urgent conversation was required. Because at this point, 12 months after we started dating, Patrick was in my plans for the long term. Baby’s room? How’s that possible? Had he been serious about that conversation before? That was not what I expected to hear.
After a few weeks of meditating and talking to friends, I decided to give it a try. After all, my life wasn’t that exciting to begin with, being so independent and always available to travel or start a new adventure (as I liked to think about my freedom of not having kids) wasn’t that thrilling. I also thought that maybe if my life became more about others and less about me, somehow it could be more meaningful.
I loved Patrick, and I didn’t want to let him go I decided to put my own expectations aside and go for the ride. After one last negotiation, we decided to do this together and build our family through something I didn’t even know about—surrogacy.
As a team, we worked together researching surrogacy, In vitro fertilization (IVF), egg donors and fertility clinics. Most of our search was online. We met other gay parents, surrogates, scammers and doctors, and a few months later, we were taking our first flight to L.A. to start our journey. The entire surrogacy process deserves a whole new blog and I promise, if you survive my writing, I will share later.
We ended up buying eggs from a donor, hiring a surrogate and coordinating the entire process by ourselves, as one of the parents we met told us to do. It saved us a big chunk of money. But let me tell you, coordinating all those parts to make them come together is complicated, nerve wracking and exhausting. If you have the extra money, hire an surrogacy agency, the hair and energy saved will be needed when the baby(s) come.
Our first son, Lorenzo, was born in a hospital in La Jolla, C.A. This City should be called surrogacy mecca! It was fantastic experience besides the normal nerves of assisting with your child’s birth.
Lorenzo’s birthday was probably the best day of my entire life. As soon as I made the first contact with him, that feeling of not having a significant purpose in life was gone. The power I felt and the natural need to protect this child was overwhelming. I wanted this so bad. I was so happy!
Having the first child was a lot of fun. First, shopping in excess then reading products information, decorating, organizing a closet full of unnecessary clothes and accessories. Then bringing the baby home for the first time. Feeding. Burping. One perfect baby and you. Like a dream. Your partner goes to work, you snuggle with your baby late in bed, you prepare this little bottle, change the baby—oh life is so sweet. Anybody can do this! Why did I wait for so long? Then the movie stopped. “I want to have another baby,” said my partner. What? Well, we still have some frozen embryos left from the previous treatment… I quickly added, I would like Lorenzo to have a sibling since we are a little older and he may feel less weird by having a sibling of the same origin. Yeah, he added, we are also too old to wait and having to do all this diaper thing all over again… but my life is so perfect with our only child, attached to me like a Siamese twin at this point. I don’t know. Actually, I am not ready for another baby. But Patrick is an Aries and very determined. So I said why not, let God and let go. I accepted.
This time we decided to use only Patrick’s embryos since the first time my embryo won. I wanted him to experience having a biological son, too. Since gay adoption was possible in Florida at this point, we decided to find a surrogate in our town. We flew her to California where we kept our embryos and to use the same doctor for the transfer. Dr. Woods told us that Patrick only had four embryos left and they were old and didn’t look good. As the first time, he recommended we transfer two or three embryos with little chances of having a baby. We decided three to be safe. But given the doctor’s prognosis, we had little expectations to have a child.
The day we had the first ultrasound after a series of positive pregnancy tests and high levels of hormones in the blood was very exciting, as we could see our baby on the screen. It’s a very exciting moment when you see this minuscule tadpole. Well, the excitement become bewilderment and desperation when we, with our own eyes, discovered not one, not two, but three little heads.
Oh my God! We were so confused and excited at the same time. We were looking at three babies on the screen! My first comment was, “Oh my God! Patrick, we never are going to go on vacation again!” But I really didn’t care in the moment. I didn’t have any idea the transformation will occur after this happening.
Having triplets is considered a high risk pregnancy, and when you learn what happens to the surrogate’s body, you feel horrible, and she feels horrible because you’re responsible for three babies for the rest of your life. We counted every single day of the pregnancy. We quickly discovered than having multiple put us in a new sub group, even more weird. It wasn’t enough for me to be Latino, gay and a father. I still needed one more—father of multiples!
The babies were born at 34 weeks and four days. We named them Liam, Lily and Leo. The boys are identical twins and one fraternal little girl. They were tiny, very tiny. Meeting the three babies in the NICU after waiting five longs hours because in Florida nobody knows what to do in a case like ours, it was so tender and scary. They were covered with tubes and looked so fragile. They were in three different rooms one next to the other. I remember going from one room to the other, and I wasn’t able to stop in any one room for more than 30 seconds. I kept moving from room to room, back and forth, until I stopped and asked myself why I was doing this. It was because I wanted all my babies together. I couldn’t stand having them separate and not be able to watch them all at once. It reminded me of a dog we had when I was a child. She had puppies and my brothers and sister and I picked one puppies each and took them to our rooms. Our poor dog was crying and moving from room to room, wanting to have her puppies together. Holy shit! I felt like that. What is it in our mind and body that we develop when we have children? I like to believe those natural instincts of parenthood are deep inside of all of us. We may not see them every day, but they come out when we become parents.
Today our triplets are ten months old, our first son is two years old and our house is anything but a dream—it’s chaos. We don’t care about fashion and expensive accessories anymore. We feed all the babies from one bowl, and my partner and I sometimes hide in the bathroom to have a break or play Candy Crush Saga. I feel tired all the time, and there are days that I ask myself why? Why did you put yourself in this situation?
Raising four kids under two is not an easy task. Most people ask us how we do it. We really don’t know who we do it. We just do it. Every day is a new challenge. Every day is a new lesson. Every day is a blessing. Each baby is a blessing. They give me way more that I can possible give them. They fill my life with laughter and much happiness. I can’t imagine my life without our children. I can’t even remember how life was without them.
I am living a life I never could have imagined. Being a father is the best thing that ever happened to me.