Medical City Healthcare - November 12, 2021

Josh Neal and Robert Sleeper met in Dallas County and built an amazing life together that includes successful careers and world travel. Eventually, they moved north to Allen, with the idea of having a bit more space to realize another of their longtime dreams: starting a family as biological dads. The couple had been legally married for over two years and together for more than 15 when science — and Medical City McKinney — helped make their dream of starting a family come true in March 2021.

Modern families.

As we noted several years ago in our blog Modern families: Babies delivered in surprising ways, medicine and modern society are opening up new avenues of nontraditional birth experiences, allowing more people to participate in the joy of welcoming a baby into the world. Or, as in Josh and Robert’s case, two babies —Bear and Elle — born one minute apart and weighing 7 pounds 4 ounces each.

How did that happen, you might ask? A donor provided the two eggs. Each dad provided the DNA needed to fertilize one egg apiece, making each of the men a biological father of a baby. By sharing their pride in becoming parents, Josh and Robert hope to raise awareness of the journey of same-sex parenthood.

Medical City Healthcare is proud to foster a culture of inclusion, compassion and respect for all. Because every family has unique needs, every birth can be personalized and customized with a variety of amenities and options which can be planned for long before delivery, including surrogate support and same-sex partner deliveries.

Josh and Robert had a clear vision of how they wanted to experience their babies’ birth day and worked with the labor and delivery staff at Medical City McKinney to arrange it. Every detail was planned in advance, including which dad would be in the delivery room, which dad would be in the warming room and how the couple would room-in with their newborns.

“Everyone in labor and delivery at the hospital knew weeks ahead of time that ours was a surrogate birth with same-sex fathers,” says Josh. “That saved us a lot of headaches and made the whole experience seamless. We were treated just as well as the children.”

A quick trip to the NICU.

An important part of Josh and Robert’s plan included the opportunity to quickly bond with their newborn babies. Medical City hospitals encourage skin-to-skin contact (also called kangaroo care) for all new parents as it:

  • Promotes bonding
  • Improves babies’ vital signs
  • Helps babies thrive in the NICU and decreases their length of stay

Bear and Elle were born early — at 36 weeks — as often happens with multiple births and Bear’s breathing was irregular. So off he went to Medical City McKinney’s Level II NICU — which is capable of caring for small or sick babies — where a CPAP machine helped regulate his breathing.

However, he didn’t have to go alone.

“The nurses in the NICU were so accommodating,” Robert says. “They brought in extra chairs so that we could do skin-to-skin contact with Bear and Elle, together as a family.”

Bear’s breathing soon stabilized and he was released from the NICU in less than 24 hours.

How suite it is.

In their private labor and delivery suite near the NICU, Josh and Robert were able to room-in with their newborns. The nursery nurses showed the new dads how to feed, burp, diaper and bathe the babies and how to care for their skin.

“It was like newborn bootcamp over 48 hours,” Robert says. “Everyone was so patient with us and had a great bedside manner. We asked a million questions. They showed us so many tips and tricks that we still use today.”

After two nights of soaking in all the knowledge they could, “Papa” (Josh) and “Daddy” (Robert) felt prepared to take their babies home.

“We really got to know the nurses, and I am not going to lie, saying goodbye was emotional,” Robert says. “We left with big smiles. Our kids were brought into this world with love and joy and that’s thanks to the staff at Medical City McKinney.”

See their story on CBS DFW.

At Medical City Healthcare, parents and babies are cherished and protected.

We don’t just deliver babies. We deliver dreams. Find the perfect doctor for you or your baby or call our free, 24/7 Ask a Nurse hotline.

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