Heartwarming Moment: Two Dads Holding Their Newborn for the First Time

Shortly before a surrogate mother gave birth to their son in Kingston, Ontario, a midwife yelled “shirts off” so that Frank Nelson and BJ Barone, the new fathers, would be prepared to hold their baby against their bare chests for skin-to-skin bonding. Photographer Lindsay Foster took pictures of the birth as a present to her friend, Kathy Frenette, the couple’s surrogate. Foster captured the moment when the fathers held baby Milo for the first time, even before the umbilical cord was cut. In the photographs, a shirtless Nelson embraced Milo, and Barone had his arms around both of them as the new dads shed tears of happiness.

“The pictures she captured were just stunning,” Nelson said in an interview with TODAY Parents on Monday. “I was completely overwhelmed. I was so scared of dropping the baby. But mostly, I felt joy, love, and amazement.”

The raw emotions that Foster captured, according to Nelson, “represent unconditional love and pure happiness for us.” Barone added, “It was such an incredible moment, and I was so excited, so overjoyed, so overcome with emotion. Having this photo is a reminder of how much love we have for him.”

Milo, born during World LGBT Pride festivities, is the couple’s “pride baby,” Nelson said. “We are extremely proud of him.”

Skin-to-skin contact, which has been demonstrated to have numerous health benefits for newborns, from temperature regulation to pain management, is now standard practice in many births, explaining why the dads were shirtless.

The couple took some photos of Milo using their cellphone camera and were pleased with the 200 “likes” they received on Facebook. However, that was nothing compared to the response Foster’s photos received when she posted them on Facebook, and they quickly went viral.

“We are so thankful to her,” Nelson said. “The fact that she captured that moment was amazing.”

The couple still can’t believe how they looked in the photos. “As soon as I saw it, I started crying because you can see such emotion on everyone’s face, especially Frank’s,” Barone said. “It instantly brought me to tears. I couldn’t believe it.”

Their first attempt at having a child failed, and Milo, the son of two high school teachers, was born at the end of the school year. He arrived on June 27, during the World Pride gay rights festival in Toronto.

The photo was shared by George Takei, an original “Star Trek” cast member turned gay rights activist with a large following on Facebook, who wrote, “Congratulations, new fathers. These photos are a wonderful reminder that love is what makes a family.”

The two dads left their camera behind in the rush to the hospital for the birth of their son, but a professional photographer’s shot of their unforgettable first moments with the baby went viral.

For Foster, it was the first time she had photographed a surrogate birth. She felt that there were three parents who needed support, not just the pregnant woman. “Every pain that she had, they were crying along with her,” Foster said. “When she’d scream, they’d scream. I wanted to take a picture and hug them at the same time.”

The couple is now back in Toronto, still gazing at those first photos and enjoying the newborn days. “Milo has been a great baby,” Nelson said. “He sleeps a lot, he poops a lot, and he’s been very good for his daddies.”

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