Jay's Loelife: A GA Exclusive Epic-logue - 1. Starting a Family
Starting a Family
Contempt and anger stemming from utter disbelief hang thick in the air, making it hard to swallow.
Loren pushes away from the table and stands, knocking the heavy leather club chair on its back. This sudden outburst is a stark contrast to the stone of a man who sat next to me for the last hour. “I should’ve known better than to think that bringing a kid into this world was a good idea,” he snaps, his voice cold and venomous.
I open my mouth to talk him down, but Isaac stops me with a shake of his head.
Loren storms out, slamming the door. If the room was tense before, it’s downright suffocating now.
It’s one of those moments where Loren doesn’t need me, but he needs someone, so I text Seamus. Loren just stormed out of the meeting. It’s not good. He’s on foot. Can you intercept him?
Isaac flips through the legal paperwork and sighs. “After everything they did to him, they want to sue him for defamation? This has got to be some sort of joke.”
“Doesn’t feel like a joke.” Lars tosses his copy of the paperwork and the pages flutter across the wooden conference table. “I’m not being sued, but I might as well be. It’s my fault. If Loren and I hadn’t reconnected, he wouldn’t have shared with the world what had happened to us. If he hadn’t shared—”
“No,” I say firmly. “I’m done with you and Loren feeling any sort of responsibility for their shortcomings as humans. Loren thought long and hard before he shared what you two went through. Your parents can be mad all they want, but nothing he shared was defamation. Not even close. He told the truth. Truth backed up by facts, which is why this lawsuit won’t go anywhere. The most damage it will cause is to yours and Loren’s mental health. Our embryo transfer is supposed to be tomorrow morning, and right now, Loren is out of his mind.” I look at our lawyer. “What do we do?”
“Isaac mentioned you did some digging and may have information.”
“It’s not much, but everything I have is yours.”
We spend the next hour going over a plan. The court filings themselves are not a big deal. There is no defamation. Still, we look at things from all angles. The attorney advises us on what Loren should refrain from posting in the meantime. I’m sure Loren will be super okay with censoring himself on the topic of his parents.
My phone vibrates as I leave the office. Seamus: I have Loren. He…needs a minute. Don’t wait up.
Relief washes over me, knowing Seamus has Loren’s back. If there's anyone who can handle him, it’s my best friend. If anyone can truly understand what he’s going through, it’s Seamus.
The neighborhood is dark when big SUV headlights flood the living room. I open the front door and watch as Seamus hefts a drunk Loren out of the passenger seat and drags him into the house.
“I’ssssss drunk,” Loren slurs as he’s hauled through the door towards the living room.
Seamus and I share a grin. Drunk Loren is pretty funny. I shut the door and follow behind them. “You’re drunk, huh? I can’t tell.”
Loren gets dumped face first on the sofa like dead weight. “I has a few. Juss tree or five or sumthin’.”
“Mmm, more like seven or eight,” Seamus corrects.
I nod for Seamus to follow me while Loren mumbles incoherently into the sofa. Once we’re outside, I look at my friend. “How was he?”
“Angry, frustrated, confused.”
“Do you think he’ll be okay? Do you think he really wants to cancel the transfer?”
Seamus shrugs. “He was all over the place tonight, but I don’t think he’s changed his mind about a kid. His insecurities are heightened by the lawsuit. Loren needs a nap and a little affirmation.”
I pull my friend in for a hug. “Thank you for going after him,” I say. “He needed space, but he needed support, too.”
“Of course. Loren isn’t just your husband, he’s Matt’s friend, too.”
“Oh, yeah? Just Matt’s friend?”
“Well, he’s also Aidan and Carson’s favorite uncle.”
Seamus laughs as he squeezes my arm. “I love Loren like a brother. No offense to you and the guys, but in some ways, he’s the closest I have to a real one.”
“I get it. I knew you two were a match made in heaven before either of you figured it out.”
Seamus shoves me towards the house. “Go tend to your husband. Tomorrow is a big day.”
We tap knuckles, then I jog back into the house to find Loren laying on his back. He’s staring at the ceiling like he's paying it three-hundred-bucks an hour to help life make sense. I kneel next to him and run my fingers through his hair, scratching as I go. Like a cat, he closes his eyes and leans into it.
“How are you feeling about tomorrow?”
He lets me scratch for a moment before answering. “Not sure isss the bess idea.”
“Why is that?”
Loren opens his eyes. They look like they belong to a scared child, silently begging to be saved. “What if we make ‘em feel like mine made me and Lars feel?”
I move until I’m stretched out on top of him, my weight pressing him into the sofa and my gaze staring into his. “I would never let that happen, but more importantly, you would never let that happen. Remember the time you thought Aidan felt abandoned? Your reaction in that moment is also your guarantee. You would never let anything happen to our child. If that’s not enough, look at the way you love Aidan and Carson. Not just them, but all your nieces and nephews. You and me together? Oh man, he or she will be spoiled with affection. They will hear and feel how loved they are every single day.”
“How do you know?” he asks.
“Because it’s how I feel every day I’m with you.”
His lip curls and his eyes are still glassy. “You’re juss sayin’ dat ‘cause tomorrow I’ss gonna make you a daddy.”
“Mhmm,” he hums. “‘Member when wass time to donate splerm?”
“Splerm?” I struggle to hold back a laugh. “Sure. You couldn’t do it in the little exam room, so they let us rent a room at the hotel across the street.”
“Mhmm. What else you ’member?”
I laugh. “That you thought I was going to sit back and watch as you wanked our child into existence.”
Loren nuzzles his face into my chest. “You didn’t.”
“No, no I didn’t.”
There wasn’t a chance in this world I was going to let Loren have all the fun. It might have been his splerm being used, but it was my baby too, and I needed to be part of the process. I made sure to drive Loren crazy, work him up into a lather, and then fuck him until he was a bumbling mess. He was a pile of putty by the time he came, so lost, I had to make sure he didn’t miss the cup.
“It wass good. We should do it now.” Loren grabs my face and pulls me into a messy kiss. A moment later, Loren pushes me off. His face is pale and clammy as he throws his arm over his eyes. “Spins.”
I chuckle and grab him a glass of cool water. He spends the next few hours emptying his stomach in the bathroom.
In the morning, I’m up before the sun. I watch Loren sleep for a minute before quietly padding out of the bedroom and to the kitchen. He needs a good breakfast, something to wake him up. My cheeks hurt from smiling as I gather everything I need for a hearty burrito.
Today is a miracle. Thanks to modern medicine, an amazing egg donor, a lovely lady oven, and a team of professionals, today is the day we might just become dads.
Loren shuffles into the kitchen like a half-dead zombie. He doesn’t say a word, just grunts for coffee and food, then slowly devours both. The less coffee left in his cup and burrito on his plate, the more he comes to life until he’s almost smiling.
Loren shoves the last bite in his mouth and washes it down with a final swig of coffee. He looks at me with a sparkle in his eye and a smirk no hungover man should be capable of. “Better get dressed. It’s time to make a baby.”
I grin. “Yeah?”
“Technically, it’s already made.”
“Well—” He wipes his mouth. “Let’s go plant it in the fertile field or whatever.”
A swarm of people crowd outside the clinic. Well-wishers, fans, paparazzi. We sign autographs and chat with the crowd as we make our way through the mob. I don’t mind the attention. Better to have the crowd following us now than last week when I ran across the street with Loren’s cup-o-sperm. That would’ve been a sight to see.
Loren walks through the lobby like a majority shareholder. I half expect him to swipe someone’s chart and start reviewing their treatment plan. Between MJ and us, he’s been through this thing a time or two. He knows the entire staff by name.
We meet Katje in the lobby. Our most wonderful surrogate. With straight-cut blonde bangs, eyebrow studs, and two full, kick-ass tattoo sleeves, Katje is a true Nordic queen of the Pacific Northwest. Where MJ was all about social media attention, Katje is more reserved. A perfect balance for Loren. She keeps him on his toes.
“It’s not too late to transfer two babies,” she says as she hugs us both.
Loren rolls his eyes. “Don’t be hoe for my husband. You’re stuck with one, and only one… of mine. Deal with it.”
Katje’s laugh echoes through the sparse lobby. Like I said, she knows how to give Loren a hard time.
We don’t have time to sit down before we’re ushered to the back, where Katje goes into one room while Loren and I head to another. We’re given paper gowns, booties, and surgical caps. When everything is ready, we’re escorted to the exam room. Katje is on the table with her legs in the stirrups, draped in a paper covering, providing a modicum of modesty.
The entire procedure takes less than five minutes. We spend the next thirty keeping her company until we’re released.
A week later, we’re working at the warehouse in Washington. We’re bagging and tagging the first orders of Loren’s latest collection drop before the crew shows up and takes over. Loren’s in front of the camera, doing what he does best, engaging with his audience and giving a bunch of stuff away.
Between announcements, he eyes me. As someone who shares everything, it’s killing him to keep this secret. I’m surprised he hasn’t broken already. I thought he was going to spill the beans the moment we left the clinic after the transfer.
Tell them, I mouth.
I don’t have to tell him twice. With a giant smile, he runs to me and puts us both in the frame. “I know everyone is wondering what's happening with the transfer. We won’t have an official ultrasound for a few weeks still, but all the blood tests indicate—”
“We’re having a baby!” we say in unison.
Shipping is put on hold as we do a Q & A for everyone. There really isn’t much to tell. The transfer went well. Katje started home testing four days later. We watched with rapt excitement as the lines grew darker each day until the blood test came back positive.
Shoyo_Grey: Why didn’t you transfer two embryos? Wouldn’t it have been more fair?
“The way we did it is very fair,” I tell the camera. “As everyone now knows, Loren is a twin himself. And everyone knows the hell their childhood was. He has valid reasons for not wanting twins, and I completely understand why. I told him that if we’re a one-and-done family, then I want him to be the biological dad. I want to look at my kid and see Loren in every way possible.”
“Yeah, but we got an egg donor who’s a super athlete with the same features as Jay,” Loren chimes in. So…”
“Either way, Loe and I are really happy with our choices.”
BittersweetOptimism: Why isn’t there more of Lars? I thought we’d see him all the time.
Loren’s excitement wanes. “As you can imagine, his life changed drastically when we reconnected. He lost most of his privacy once we became public. We both understand why everyone went crazy. It was a big deal. Personally, he had to come to terms with a lot of untruths. It wasn’t an easy transition for him. He says he’s fine with it, and that might be true, but I’m very protective of him. He’s not a secret, but I won’t over-expose him, either. Plus, we’re still catching up on the years we lost.”
Boywndr86: What names have you picked out?
“None yet. I’m sure Loren will throw out suggestion boxes at some point, but we’re not finding out the gender until birth. Once we see their little face, we’ll know their name.”
JayCee75: Given your childhood, what is one thing you want your child to have that you didn’t?
“Most people would say love, but for me it’s safety. I want them to wake up every morning and run down the stairs with a smile on their face because it’s a new and exciting day. Or burst into our room when they’re scared in the middle of the night and know they’re welcome. It’s important that they know they can come talk to us about anything without fear of rejection.”
I squeeze Loren’s hand. “Cultivating a safe place is just one small, but important way of showing someone how much you love them.”
Rica.: How would you feel if your kid follows either of your career paths?
Loren laughs. “What I do isn’t easy and it’s definitely not for everyone. I don’t think it’s something I would encourage or promote, but if it’s what they want, I’m not going to sabotage them. Who knows what this industry will look like in twenty years anyway?”
“I would be proud as hell if they dedicated themselves to a sport and went pro. I would be their number one fan and supporter.”
“Oh god,” Loren groans. “I really hope they don’t take after Jay in sports. My brain could barely handle it when Jay was playing. I don’t know what I would do if I had to learn another sport for our kid. I will do it, but—” Loren crosses his fingers for the camera.
SM1982: Will you be opening a Loelife Cafe in Arizona any time soon?
“We have several locations getting ready to open in the next year and about a dozen in the next three years. Arizona isn’t on the docket yet, but soon! We love Arizona.”
Bifairy: Jay will you ever come out of retirement to play football again?
I think about it for a moment. “It would have to be an offer I can’t refuse, and at my age, what would that be? So, it’s unlikely but I won’t in good conscience say never.”
Our lives have always been crazy. When the world found out about Lars, it got insane. When Loren finally did a tell-all about their story, we had to hire security. We were never afraid, but the lack of privacy skyrocketed. It has leveled out since, but with the lawsuit still lingering and with the word out about the baby, news outlets are looking for exclusives. I even get calls from contacts within the NFL. It’s not every day their big gay player has a baby with his husband.
We’re too busy enjoying these fleeting moments to consider any of it.
A month after our positive bloodwork, we crowd into the small room. Corey and Isaac stand with their backs pressed to the wall as they film the historic moment. The doctor moves the ultrasound wand inside Katje. We hold our breath and wait. Seconds tick by but a heartbeat never comes. It has to be the most deafening silence known to man.
Katje starts crying. “I’m so sorry.”
Loren squeezes her hand. “There is nothing to be sorry for. These things happen.”
Dr. Bowen takes off his gloves and turns in his roller chair. “Loren’s right. We can do everything in our power to create life, but it’s not always enough.”
A blighted ovum. For reasons unknown, the embryo started to implant, but then stopped. A common occurrence in in-vitro fertilization.
Loren is quiet on the way home. He barely says two words. It’s not until we’re in bed that he breaks down.
I wipe the tears from his cheek. “We will try again.”
“I know,” he says in a whisper. “I never wanted kids. Now that I do, I can’t have them? It’s not fair.”
I gather Loren in my arms and let him cry. I cry, too, for Loren and for the baby I thought we were having. Some might say you can’t get attached to a baby that never had a heartbeat. To those people, I hope they never experience the kind of loss that makes you realize you can. For so many, as soon as the test is positive, the new life becomes real.
Harder than the loss itself is sharing it with millions of people. It’s like reliving it over again. We’re flooded with grace and love. Tens of thousands of people who have gone through various stages of loss themselves reach out and share their stories.
Knowing Loren, I assume he’ll be subdued next time, that he won’t want to share with the world when it’s time to cycle up again, but I’m wrong. Knowing that millions of people suffer through these things without support gives him the courage to be vocal.
The transfer is successful, as is blood work which follows. It’s hard to not feel anxious as we walk into the clinic, knowing what can happen. We hope the saying, ‘lightning never strikes the same place twice’ is true.
I flip through some home decor magazine while Loren thumbs through his phone. Katje comes in and sits across from us with a frown. “I just want to prepare you guys—” she wipes a tear from her eye before it falls. Her lip quivers. “I don’t think it’s going to go well.”
Loren and I look at each other. We hoped it wasn’t the case, but we’ve known it’s a possibility. I grab her hand and squeeze; the same way Loren had done months ago. “Whatever happens, happens.”
“I’m sorry,” she says, barely holding back her emotions. “I want this to work out so bad.”
“It will,” Loren says. “It will work out when it’s supposed to.”
“What makes you think it’s bad?” I ask.
Katje starts crying. “Intuition. I—I feel different. Something is off. I took another test this morning and the line was lighter than last week.”
We’re still hugging when the nurse calls us back. Katje goes in first while we sit and wait outside the door. Knowing what to expect takes the edge off. Loren leans back in his chair and sighs. “I’m kind of glad she gave us a heads up. It will be nice to not be blindsided this time.”
The tech smiles as she walks to the door and knocks. She peeks her head in to see if Katje is ready, then waves for us to join. Silently, Corey and Isaac finish setting up the video equipment as Dr. Bowen comes in. He drops the ultrasound wand below the sheet and a moment later, the screen lights up.
The room fills with a whooshing sound. It reminds me of a conch shell. Katje’s heartbeat is slow and steady. As the doctor moves the wand around the inside Katje’s cervix, the whooshing sound increases. Katje’s heartbeat almost doubles.
Concerned, I glance at Katje to see if she’s okay.
“And there it is,” Dr. Bowen says with a grin. “132 beats per minute.”
Loren looks at me with wide eyes. “Is that—” Our baby. With a heartbeat and everything.
“And here is the other one,” the doctor continues. “137 beats per minute.”
“Wait.” Loren pales as his head snaps to the doctor. “Did you just say, ‘the other one?’”
Dr. Bowen points to the screen with his finger while dragging the mouse over the dark mass, then he does the same over the other dark mass. “Looks like identical twins. Congratulations.”
Katje’s eyes go comically wide. “I knew something was off, but boy, was I wrong.”
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