“I Knew I Wanted to Be a Mom. I Didn’t Know What That Journey Might Look Like.”

“I Knew I Wanted to Be a Mom. I Didn’t Know What That Journey Might Look Like.”

In honor of Pride Month, we spoke to three couples with three different routes to becoming a family - plus the lessons learned along the way.

Yes, Your Toddler Can Have a Sleep Regression Reading “I Knew I Wanted to Be a Mom. I Didn’t Know What That Journey Might Look Like.” 8 minutes Next Can twins sleep in the same crib?

To celebrate Pride month and all the ways in which love can make a family, we caught up with a few of our favorite parents, all same-sex couples who found their own unique path to having kids. 

Sam and Alyssa Darling of @myabysslife have always taken a refreshingly open and honest approach to parenting, including their many attempts with IUI (intrauterine insemination) for their daughter and the new fertilization method that brought them their son. 

Impressive careers in the dance and theater worlds brought together Bret Shuford and Stephen Hanna, aka The Broadway Husbands. They took their story online to share their road to becoming dads via surrogacy.


Melissa Connelly of @missyhalle grew up in a strict religious family, where being gay was very much against the rules. But her heart eventually led her to her wife, Kim, and the couple will soon welcome their second child via IVF (in-vitro fertilization).  


Like all Nanit parents, these moms and dads are no strangers to unique challenges and the importance of surrounding yourself with support systems that truly see you (sometimes literally…hey there, Pro Monitor.)

Here, the couples get real about their parenting journeys - the good, the great, the really hard, and the wisdom they hope to pass on along the way. 

Nanit: Looking back to the beginning of this parenting road for you all, when did you know you wanted to have kids?

Melissa: I always knew that I wanted to be a mom. After coming out, I didn’t know what that journey might look like, but I knew that I couldn’t let the opportunity to be a mother pass me by.

Bret and Stephen: We knew about two years into our relationship. It was like, "You know, this would be fun with you." It took much longer to make that happen. 

Sam: Both Alyssa and I always knew that we wanted to have kids; we’ve always had that maternal instinct.

Nanit: How did your family come to be?

Kim and Melissa: Melissa did two rounds of IUI (intrauterine insemination) and one round of IVF to get one genetically normal embryo. Melissa carried and had our beautiful daughter Breslyn, our IVF miracle, in July of 2022. Kim had to do two rounds of IVF to get one genetically normal embryo. She’s now pregnant with our IVF miracle baby due December of this year.

Bret and Stephen: We started the IVF process in 2018, but we couldn't get a gestational carrier to match until the end of 2019. And then we all know what happened in 2020. So in March 2022 when our son was born, we were beyond ready and grateful. 

Sam: When we were first starting to get pregnant, there was nothing online that was like, Hey, this is how two women can have a baby. So we had to dig in [and do the research]. With our daughter, we tried IUI. It took us about eight tries to finally get pregnant. Fr our son Wilder, we did a newer method called INVOcell with my wife's eggs. They essentially have this clear tampon thing, where they put the egg and the sperm in. It sits in your body for about five days to let the egg and sperm do their thing naturally, as opposed to meeting in a lab. After five days, they take the device out and see how many embryos were created. We only had one that was viable and that turned into Wilder. 

“When we were first starting to get pregnant, there was nothing online that was like, Hey, this is how two women can have a baby.”

Nanit: What’s something you love about being a parent?

Kim: Every day our daughter learns something new and no matter how we fall short, she still loves us at the end of the day!

Bret and Stephen: Honestly, it's building that connection between ourselves as parents and our child. It’s wonderful to watch Maverick see the world and know that we get to create a safe place for him to discover it.

Sam: It’s really fun to watch our kids experience their first uncertain things and blossom. Our daughter is neurodivergent and so she has some troubles with sensory issues and whatnot. So that's been tricky to navigate. But recently Avery started going on the swing—you couldn’t put her on it before—and now she’s obsessed with swinging. It’s really fun to see kids learn about things that we’re so used to as grown ups.

Nanit: How about the flip side…what’s challenging for you all about parenting?

Kim: There’s no pause button. No matter how you feel or what kind of day you’re having, you still have to show up 100 percent for your child because they need you and that’s got to be more important.

Melissa: Being kind to myself as a parent. I have to remind myself that it’s my first time being a mom and there is LITERALLY NO SUCH THING AS A PERFECT MOM! I’m quick to notice my own shortcomings, when I wasn’t as patient as I wanted to be, or felt guilty because I didn’t play enough. In those moments, I remind myself that there are so many things that make a good mom—and that I am one.

Nanit: Kim and Melissa, is there anything you're especially looking forward to or nervous about with the arrival of your second baby?

Kim: I’m both excited and nervous about doing it all over again…the sleepless nights, the 2 a.m. feeds, and the endless crying. But our kids also might have entirely different personalities, so it’s going to be so exciting to see how our next baby differs.

Melissa: I’m so excited to see Breslyn get to be a big sister. I’m also so nervous about the transition from one to two kids. We finally have our groove and are feeling like we know how to be parents and we’re throwing ourselves into uncharted waters. It’s going to be an adventure!

Nanit: What words of advice or guidance do you all have for someone about to embark on this becoming-a-parent journey? 

Melissa: Remember that the road to parenthood looks different for everyone and it may look different than you envisioned. Do your research and make the decision that’s best for you to grow your family. But at the end of the day, all that matters is that there’s love and that you show up for one another.

Sam: Allow yourself to be present and to feel everything in the moment. Whether you're trying to have a baby and it's not happening, or not how you thought it would…. Feel that disappointment, that anger. And if things aren't going great during pregnancy, let yourself feel that too. I had a super easy pregnancy with my daughter, a super easy birth. And then it was completely different with my son; I didn’t love every second of being pregnant with him. And I kept beating myself up over it. 

Nanit: Sam, what changed to help you accept your feelings?

Sam: I was honest about them. I can't even tell you the amount of times we posted about the struggles. Putting those feelings online was the biggest help because you feel really secluded when it seems like you're the only one facing something. So allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and say, “Screw it!” let other parents respond and say thank you. We're not in a canoe solo. You put something out there and it turns out you're on a cruise ship. It makes you less alone at the end of the day. And that’s all any of us really want: to feel less alone, especially as a parent.

Nanit: How about you, Bret and Stephen? Any words of wisdom for new parents?

Bret and Stephen: We have been told for too long that it's not possible [for LGBTQ+ people to have kids], but if you really want to be a parent it 100 percent is. There is a community of other LGBTQ parents out there ready to embrace and support you on your journey. Let's raise the next generation of loving, open, and kind humans together.

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Natalie Barnett, PhD serves as VP of Clinical Research at Nanit. Natalie initiated sleep research collaborations at Nanit and in her current role, Natalie oversees collaborations with researchers at hospitals and universities around the world who use the Nanit camera to better understand pediatric sleep and leads the internal sleep and development research programs at Nanit. Natalie holds a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of New England in Australia and a Postgraduate Certificate in Pediatric Sleep Science from the University of Western Australia. Natalie was an Assistant Professor in the Neurogenetics Unit at NYU School of Medicine prior to joining Nanit. Natalie is also the voice of Nanit's science-backed, personalized sleep tips delivered to users throughout their baby's first few years.

Kristy Ojala is Nanit’s Digital Content Director. She spends way too much time looking at maps and weather forecasts and pictures of Devon Rex cats and no-cook dinners. A former sleep champion, she strives to share trustworthy somnabulism tips with other parents—praying for that one fine day when no tiny humans wake her up while it’s still dark out. Her kids highly recommend 3 books, approximately 600 stuffies, Chopin’s “Nocturnes,” and the Nanit Sound + Light for bedtime success.

Mackenzie Sangster is on the Brand and Community team at Nanit. She supports content development and editing for Nanit’s Parent Confidently blog as well as other marketing initiatives. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her friends, cooking, being active, and using the Pro + Flex Duo to keep an eye on her fur-baby, Poppy!

Holly Hays is a contributor and writer for Nanit, channeling her years as a mama and former magazine editor to create fun, useful content for fellow busy, trying-to-do-their-best parents and caregivers. Holly has written for a wide range of brands and media outlets (Ergobaby, HGTV, Manhattan Toy Company, OXO), loves to cook and read mystery novels, and leans heavily on her two daughters to keep her up to date on all the latest slang.