This past March, fathers Josh Neal and Robert Sleeper welcomed twin babies Bear and Elle at Medical City McKinney. The twins, born via surrogate, arrived only a minute apart from each other with help from Medical City’s family planning services.
Sarah Thetford, RN, labor and delivery nurse, worked closely with the couple to provide a virtual tour of the labor and delivery suites, newborn nursery and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). She also worked to ensure the labor and delivery team was familiar with the couple’s vision and birth plan.
Bear and Elle were born about a month early, at 36 weeks gestation weighing 7 pounds 4 ounces each. Bear’s breathing was irregular, and he immediately went to the NICU.
“The nurses in the NICU were so accommodating.” Sleeper said. “They brought extra chairs into the NICU so that we could do skin-to-skin contact with Bear and Elle, together as a family.”
Staying in a private labor and delivery suite near the NICU, Neal and Sleeper were able to keep their newborns by their side. The nursery nurses helped the new dads with feeding and burping techniques, diapering, bathing and skin care for newborns. Less than 24 hours later, Bear’s breathing stabilized and he was released from the NICU.
“Just because they are two dads doesn’t mean they don’t have the questions and worries,” Thetford said. “We wanted them to feel like they had the knowledge they needed so that they could go home and enjoy these two babies together.”
LGBTQ+ medical inclusion
Thanks to both scientific and social advancements, Medical City helps provide LGBTQ+ medical resources and support, showing that exemplary medical service goes for a variety of family dynamics, not just hetero-led households.
“I do think it’s especially important for our community to understand what is possible,” Neal said in an interview with CBS 11 concerning the standards of LGBTQ+ medical service being exemplified here. “We realize how truly blessed we are.”
Bear and Elle arrived through a surrogate by embryos, each of which contained DNA from Neal and Sleeper. To ensure a safe delivery, Medical City McKinney helped create a specialized birth plan for Neal, Sleeper and their surrogate.
Across all of their hospitals, Medical City McKinney offers a variety of services to new parents, including same sex parents and their surrogates. Expecting mothers, fathers, same-sex partners, siblings and grandparents are encouraged to attend Medical City’s maternity and childcare classes.
Expecting parents still opting to stay in their own homes can take Medical City’s breastfeeding, infant CPR, prepared childbirth and newborn baby care classes online.
“Just as every baby is unique, so is every delivery,” said Medical City Healthcare assistant VP of strategic communications Janet St. James in an email to Local Profile. “We provide a customized birthing experience where parents can choose from a variety of amenities and options which can be planned for long before delivery, including surrogate support and same-sex partner deliveries. Additionally, Medical City Healthcare offers many classes and support groups both online and in-person which are designed to welcome the uniqueness of every family.”
St. James adds that Medical City Healthcare is built on a foundation of inclusion, compassion and respect, for their patients and staff members alike. With inclusive LGBTQ+ medical service standards, they are committed to fostering a culture of inclusion to medical professionals, patients and their loved ones, regardless of race, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or veteran status.
“We encourage our patients to work closely with their physician regarding family planning and coordinating their dream delivery,” St. James said. “Many top physician specialists call Medical City Healthcare hospitals their home, including reproductive endocrinologist infertility specialists, maternal-fetal medicine specialists and excellent OBGYNs. Patient privacy is a hallmark of healthcare and closely protected within our facilities.”
Learn about Medical City Frisco’s cuddle cot here.
Medical City McKinney is working to create a healthier ecosystem by establishing beehives on seven undeveloped acres west of the hospital. Learn about their sweet mission here.
Read our feature of two moms here… one of these moms reflects on coming out in Collin County and becoming a “normal family of three.”