Jesse Sullivan and Francesca Farago Talk “Surreal” Pregnancy Journey

Getty / Jesse Grant; Photo Illustration by Aly Lim

When Jesse Sullivan and Francesca Farago announced their pregnancy on March 31, Trans Day of Visibility, their videos on social media were met with an outpouring of support: “Congrats to you both! Thanks for sharing this journey,” one user wrote. “You are going to make the best parents ever,” another commented. Of course, they got questions too – about how they would raise their future kids within a queer family, what their IVF journey was like, and how Arlo, Sullivan’s 15-year-old, is feeling about becoming an older sibling.

But the good news kept pouring in. On April 7, the couple revealed they were expecting not one child, but twins. They both readily admit they’d been hoping they’d have twins, if only so that they don’t have to fight over which one of them gets to hold the baby.

“We already do it with our cat and our dog, so if we only had one baby, it would be bad,” Sullivan jokes.

“Once I was seeing the heartbeats on the scan, it felt so real.”

We caught up with Sullivan and Farago a couple weeks after their announcement, and they were both giddy as they talked about expanding their family. They were still a bit in disbelief, too, given that they went through a failed embryo transfer last year. As Farago put it, despite all of the planning, hormone shots, and everything else that has gone into making this pregnancy a reality, “the fact that it’s happening feels surreal.”

Keep reading to find out what Farago has been craving during her pregnancy, how Sullivan deals with the “hate” he gets online as a trans man, and why it’s so important for them both to be open about their relationship and their journey of growing their family.

On How Pregnancy Is Going

Francesca Farago: All the first trimester stuff – nausea, feeling tired – it all started hitting me this week. I’m feeling a little under the weather, to be expected obviously, and because there are two in there, I definitely feel a little bit worse than I’d feel if there were just one. It’s a little bit of a struggle to do day-to-day things, but everyone tells me that when you get into your second trimester, all of that goes away. So I’m excited for that. I’m hiding it with makeup.

Jesse Sullivan: I basically have been like a little caretaker. I make her all her meals, and she’s craving very specific things. So anytime she’s craving something, I try to surprise her. I’ll add a little apple with caramel, and she gets all excited. I take care of the animals, and I’ve been taking care of the house. Kind of doing everything I can to make her days easier, because she’s been going through so much. Not only the twins, but because this was IVF, she’s on all these hormones and it’s been extra hard on her body. So the least I can do is sort of be like full-blown Mr. Maid.

FF: I’m craving healthy foods, and my favorite thing right now is cinnamon raisin toast with vegan cream cheese and berries on top.

JS: Or a bagel with vegan cream cheese and cucumber.

FF: I’m big on cucumbers right now. I could live off cucumbers. I don’t know what it is. I think maybe the freshness.

On What’s Been Most Surprising Since Starting Their IVF Journey

JS: Although we intentionally did this and put so much blood, sweat, and tears into making this happen, once it happened and once I was seeing the heartbeats on the scan, it felt so real. And it sounds so weird, because obviously I knew this was going to happen. But it hits you really hard. And it’s like, we’re bringing human beings into this world together.

FF: I remember the other day, I was thinking like, “Oh my god, we’re actually going to have two babies? Who’s letting us do this?” I feel like a teen adult. My mom started having kids when she was young, but I’m like, we’re ready, but also who let us do this? It’s crazy that it’s actually happening.

JS: I think that’s a normal thing when you’re pregnant or at any stage, you get hit with the reality really hard. It happened to me when I was in high school. It felt different. It kind of felt really real the whole time, and this is hitting me in little stages.

FF: Yeah, I think also because we’re kind of keeping our guard up a little bit because our first embryo transfer failed, so we’ve been very realistic about: there’s a potential miscarriage, the possibility of it not working out. So the fact that it’s happening feels surreal.

JS: That’s exactly why it feels surreal, because we were so prepared for it to not be real.

On How They’ll Parent

JS: I’m so excited to see Francesca actually go into mother mode. It is something that’s so instinctual, and until you’re holding that baby, you don’t really know how you’re going to feel. I can’t wait, because I know she’s going to thrive. She’s going to be the best mom, there’s not a doubt in my mind. I think I’m going to see this already amazing, badass person who inspires me every day – times 100. Even me being a parent, I think I’m going to be inspired by her parenting. I can already see that.

“I’m nervous I’m going to be too strict.”

FF: I’m nervous I’m going to be too strict. Is the term “helicopter parent”? JS: Yeah, that’s where you’re like always like, “Oh, are you going to fall? Do you need help?”

FF: Yeah, I’m already like that with our dog. I’m so protective over him, like I need to know where he is at all times of the day. And I don’t know if that’s because he dealt with a lot of health issues when he was younger and I had to bring him to surgery and it was a really traumatic situation for me and him. I don’t know if that bonded us more, but I feel like with the babies, if someone else is holding them, I’m going to be like, “Are you okay?” I feel like I’m going to be really scared.

Also, because, like, we didn’t just have sex and get pregnant. I’ve used over a thousand needles, I’ve put my body through all this stress, you put your body through stress. Eight months of our lives to get this far – there’s so much riding on everything going smoothly that I’m going to be extra protective, I feel like.

JS: It definitely changes how we feel about things.

On Why They’re Open About Their Journey

FF: One of the positives I noticed right off the bat was reassurance and building a community of women who have gone through the same thing. It’s been really positive. I’ve been really active on Snapchat, and I post how I’m feeling that day or what I’m going through, and I will get hundreds of reassuring comments from women who have gone through the same thing. I think it’s important to share it, because our journey hasn’t been shared before. A queer couple doing IVF and being so public about it – I’ve never seen anyone post like that. So I think it’s important for awareness and acceptance and for people to see that we had to go through some extra steps, but we’re just a regular family as well. And for younger queer kids to know that they can have a life like us and it’s possible – a lot of people don’t think it’s possible.

“A queer couple doing IVF and being so public about it – I’ve never seen anyone post like that.”

JS: Yeah, as a queer couple and telling this story, but more specifically me as a trans man. These sorts of things are so specific to us, and I’ve never seen a story told like this. Especially right now with the political climate, trans people specifically are so targeted, so I think it’s so important. The kinds of messages I’ve gotten and the comments, they’re like, “I’m 15 and I honestly thought I never was going to have a family. You showed me that I can have a family.” It’s those simple things that you think all kids should feel growing up, and they don’t get that. I had a 7- or 8-year-old trans girl whose mom told me that seeing me was the first time she ever thought, “Oh I didn’t think anyone would like me for my body.” So those things make it all worth it and so important that through the hate we keep going.

FF: There’s a lot of hate.

JS: There’s a lot of hate, yeah.

FF: But people are so juvenile with their comments. They’re not even good comments. Be more original.

JS: At least be funny.

FF: Yeah, at least be funny. I think sometimes it gets hard. I’ll post something and get a lot of negative comments and be like, why are we giving these people access to our lives? Why are we giving them access to something so personal and vulnerable if this is the response? I’m like, they don’t deserve to see this. But then I remember, for every 10 hate comments, there are 100 positive ones. We’re obviously going to be very protective when the babies get here. We’re not going to show their faces or anything like that for a while and we’re going to feel out the situation, but it’s hard because it’s not only us that gets hate comments. Arlo gets it as well. You want to protect your family, but you also want to be advocating for families like ours. So it’s always a thin line of what to show and what not to show.

JS: It’s such a thin line. There are obviously so many cis families out there who are showing their parenting style and whatever, and I’m sure they get a certain amount of hate. But I think because of who we are, it’s just so amplified.

When I started this journey of wanting to show my parenting as a trans dad, I couldn’t have imagined how difficult it was going to be. I had a bit of rose-colored glasses going into it, but I’m constantly trying to find this balance of letting people in because it’s important, but also pulling back when it’s like, you crossed too many boundaries. You don’t need to ask these very personal questions about my 15-year-old. I’ve asked you guys not to do it a million times. And then also talking about our future kids and how we’re going to raise them, it was like should we do it, should we not. I already know what the comments are going to be. But at the same time, we had so many people commenting like, “I’m a 43-year-old mom of three and you just changed how I think about this.” I’m like, this type of stuff is so important. We need people doing that, we need people being like, “I never thought I would think differently than I do, but you have opened my mind up.”

But to be completely transparent, it does affect my mental health sometimes. I go through phases where I’m like, this is hard. I don’t know how much more I can keep doing. I don’t want to call them weaker moments, because I think people are free to have moments like that. But I really try to focus on the bigger picture and what I’m doing for my family, what I’m doing for young people.

Lena Felton is the senior director of features and special content at POPSUGAR, where she oversees feature stories, special projects, and our identity content. Previously, she was an editor at The Washington Post, where she led a team covering issues of gender and identity.

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