Six years ago, fitness trainer Shaun T, creator of the Insanity workout and the new Transform :20 program, was ready to start a family with his husband and business partner, Scott Blokker. But the journey wasn’t easy. “We went through all the things that couples struggling with fertility go through: tests, doubt, grief, not knowing, waiting,” Scott says.
Twelve attempts, six egg donors, five surrogates, two doctors, one miscarriage, and thousands of dollars later, their two adorable sons, Silas Rhys and Sander Vaughn, arrived. Though they share the same egg donor, Sander is from Shaun’s sperm and Silas is from Scott’s sperm. Their surrogate delivered them two minutes apart. “Ask all the questions you want,” Shaun says when people wonder how the boys came to be. Adds Scott, “It blows my mind how much I’ve learned.”
The boys turned 1 in November, and their dads could not be more proud, especially after all they’ve been through. The babies were born at 32 weeks and spent the first three weeks in the NICU. “On their last night there, we had no monitors, no nurses, just us,” says Shaun. “I remember thinking, ‘This will be a piece of cake.’ I was so wrong. They cried nonstop!”
Well, guys, welcome to parenthood! Scott and Shaun speak of the first four months of parenting twins as an almost comically dark time in their lives. “It was terrible,” says Shaun, laughing. “We got into more fights than we’d ever had in our entire relationship.” Scott adds, “I even questioned whether we’d ruined our marriage by having kids, but it wasn’t the kids. It was the not sleeping!”
Two preemies meant both parents doing every feeding around the clock. “No more than two hours of sleep at a time for weeks in a row is killer,” says Scott. Meanwhile, Sander wouldn’t eat, or if he did, he’d spit up. “We felt bad, but at 3 a.m. it was, ‘Okay, who wants Sander?’ ” Shaun says.
Eventually, the babies started to sleep through the night, and so did Shaun and Scott. Like magic, conflicts abated. They divided and conquered. Scott says he’s the family manager, while Shaun is the cruise director. “I do all the planning—babysitters, shopping, doctors—and Shaun brings the fun.”
The couple took only a month of paternity leave but hired a few employees for their business. Scott stayed home while Shaun went on a book tour. “My parents live next door,” Scott says, “so they helped a ton.”
At this point, they’ve got a routine down so well that either Dad (Scott) or Papa (Shaun) can rattle it off: Bedtime, for instance, is bath, lotion, diapers, feeding, a little playtime, then a story and lights-out at 7 p.m. The parents high-five nightly on their way downstairs. “We high-five all the time. It reinforces we’re a team as parents,” Shaun says. Once the babies are down, they speed-clean, with Shaun picking up toys while Scott washes bottles. Then they settle in for couple time, eating and watching TV before heading to bed.
“I’ve received two great pieces of advice,” says Shaun. “Scott’s dad told me, ‘You’re not coming into the babies’ world. They’re coming into yours,’ and that made me eager to show them the life we live. The second was from my grandfather, who was married to my grandmother for 56 years. He said, ‘Never go to bed angry,’ and we don’t. The connectedness you feel at the end of the day is the driving force for how you wake up the next day, so every night we fall asleep holding hands.”
Scott once confessed to Shaun that he wanted to have 11 kids. Shaun didn’t have to think twice about that. “Hell to the no!” he says, laughing. But he has come around to the idea of a larger family. “Man, once you have two, it’s cool. I think we could do this again.”