Member Spotlight: Eric and Baby Declan

About five years ago, Eric Ventry started to explore having and raising a child alone. Two years into that exploration, he got serious about the process, as he felt that he was financially and mentally prepared. Eric knew his employer, Upwork, was supportive of families, but he learned through the process of becoming a parent himself just what that meant.

“I started a conversation with HR and the benefits team about my intention of starting my own family,” Eric learned that Upwork employees had access to generous benefits for considering and expecting parents. “Upwork offers assistance for both fertility and adoption, as well as family benefits like Cleo,” he explained.

Finding the Right Surrogate Match

Before starting to use Cleo, Eric had already selected a fertility clinic where his friends had previously found success. “I joined Cleo in the Fall of 2018 and I immediately had an informative conversation with my Cleo Guide about the surrogacy process. My Guide provided personalized resources and was available, all the time, for text message questions and regular check ins leading up to the matching process in early 2019.”

Newborn Care Class

After years of planning to become a single father, the dream of starting a family was getting closer and the excitement of becoming a dad was palpable. Through Cleo, Eric was able to find preparation that fit his specific needs. “I didn’t need to take a typical generic pre-birth class because as a single guy, those classes were not created for me,” he noted. Instead, Cleo set Eric up with a one-on-one class taught by a fellow-soon-to-be Dad, Mac. “Mac prepared me for my unique situation, which helped relieve some of the stress and anxiety I was experiencing.”

Declan’s Arrival

Eric welcomed Declan on January 1st and it was love at first sight. At first, Eric had the support of family and friends. Eric’s mother helped during the week when Eric was working and they quickly found a rhythm. Having a newborn at home by himself was challenging, but Eric had no idea how challenging until Shelter-In-Place orders were issued due to the outbreak of COVID-19 when Declan was just ten weeks old.

“I didn’t have any support for Declan. Declan’s grandmother no longer came during the week. My friends wanted to help but couldn’t,” Eric said, explaining that it wasn’t what he was expecting when he brought his son home. “Throughout my considering and expecting journey, Cleo was part of my support team, now Cleo was sort of my only support,” he shared, adding: “Cleo’s virtual support was beyond what I could have imagined. My Cleo Guide kept me sane during a very challenging time.”

Am I Doing Things Right?

As a first-time father, and doing this on his own, Eric grappled with very basic questions. “I wanted to make sure Declan was receiving enough nutrition and getting enough sleep. I was concerned I might be doing things wrong. I scheduled a call with my Cleo Guide to make sure my combination of donor breast milk and formula feeding was setting up Declan for success. My Guide was very assuring and said everything I was doing sounded great and then she offered some advice and small things to incorporate that could be helpful.”

When Declan was about four months old, sleep training began. Declan’s success meant Eric could find a better balance juggling work and life at home. “I had a preliminary call with my Guide and she introduced me to Molly, a Cleo sleep expert. Molly provided the affirmations I needed and gave me new information that was presented in a very simple way. Molly shared the notes from our conversation with my Cleo Guide and that provided comfort knowing we were all aligned and nothing was falling between the cracks. I couldn’t have asked for a better team!”

Cleo’s family benefits platform is an employer-sponsored benefit that combines one-on-one guide engagement, evidence-based programs, and a personalized app experience to serve the needs of modern families like Eric. Want Cleo at your company? Let us know.