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05/27/2014

Study: Gay dads can do it all, basically

by Jeremy Hooper

As a gay dad who has spent all but a handful of hours with my baby since her first breath of life, this new study surpasses me not:

The 48 gay fathers raising children with their husbands seemed to be both mom and dad, brain-wise. Their emotional circuits were as active as those of mothers and the interpretive circuits showed the same extra activity as that of heterosexual fathers'.
...
One clue: in gay fathers, but not heterosexual ones, the brain also had extra communication lines between emotional and cognitive structures. The more time a man spent as primary caregiver, the greater the connectivity. It was as if playing both parental roles caused the brain to integrate the structures required for each.

FULL: Gay dads' brains show activity akin to both parents': study [Reuters via Yahoo!]

In all of the prenatal visits leading up to Savannah's birth, the doctor would ask, "Are you ready?" In every visit, I'd give a timid and slightly mumbly, "Um, yeah, I think so." But then in the delivery room, the same doc asked the same question to the same parents-to-be. At first I began to offer up the same noncommittal answer I'd given the months prior. Then I stopped myself. Or, more accurately, it felt as it something stopped me. I took a beat, looked the doctor right in the eyes and gave a 201405270913confident "YES—I'm ready!"

As cliché as it sounds, it felt like something clicked in right there, right then, at the very moment. All the prep work, all of the conversation, all of the pledges Andrew and I had made—to each other, to the birth mother, and to Savannah—came together in a really powerful way. My brain shifted to a new place. It shifted because it needed to.

Eight months later, a cry rings my ear and pierces my heart the way nothing else ever has. I've started days earlier and ended them later, packing more into a 24-hour span than I knew my body would tolerate. I am fluent in a new language, one where a subtle shift in a "ba" or "da" changes the request from a diaper change to a teething ring. I am one part a warrior for my kid, in some ways more traditionally "masculine" than I've ever felt; I am one part soft blanket, more able to soothe and provide sweet comfort than I knew myself capable. Every part a parent.

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