Thomas Beatie’s eyes filled with tears as he watched his beautiful bride Amber walk down the aisle just behind his beaming seven-year-old daughter Susan, scattering rose petals.
His sons Austin and Jensen, dressed identically in little black suits and striped ties, stood nearby nervously checking the wedding bands in their care.
To the casual observer, 42-year-old Beatie and 46-year-old Nichols looked like any other couple tying the knot. Yet Thomas was no ordinary groom – in 2008 he made headlines as the world’s first pregnant man.
Beatie was born female but started hormone treatment at 23 to become a man. However, he kept his reproductive organs and became a miracle of modern science by giving birth three times in quick succession.
WATCH THE WEDDING VIDEO
The world’s first pregnant man, Thomas Beatie, 42, celebrated his wedding to his second wife, Amber Nichols, earlier this year in Phoenix, Arizona
Beatie made headlines internationally in 2008 after he became the world’s first pregnant man. He was born a girl but started hormone treatment at 23 to become a man, but decided to keep his reproductive organs
But his happiness at becoming a father was shattered as his nine-year marriage to former bodybuilder Nancy unraveled in 2012.
He fell in love with his children’s preschool director Amber Nichols, but legal battles over his divorce dragged on for so long that he feared he’d never manage to complete his happiness by tying the knot for the second time.
Now 42-year-old Beatie has revealed the dramas behind his dream wedding in an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail Online.
‘I was so nervous, excited and frightened all at the same time,’ he says.
‘When Amber walked down the aisle my breath was just taken away. I saw the boys and Susan, so excited as a flower girl, and I just started crying and I couldn’t stop.
‘It was perfect – even better than I ever imagined.’
Growing up in Hawaii as a girl called Tracy, Beatie rebelled, refusing to wear dresses and – despite taking part in teen beauty pageants – insisted on being treated as a boy.
‘I never dreamed as a child of ever having a wedding,’ he says. ‘I never went to a prom or wanted to wear a dress, so I certainly didn’t see myself at a wedding as either the bride or the groom.’
In 2002 he had gender assignment surgery to remove his breasts and embarked on male hormone treatment but kept his reproductive organs.
After battling to become a legal male in Hawaii, he married divorced mother-of-two Nancy in a quick ceremony before a justice of the peace the following year.
Nancy, a decade older than Beatie, was unable to have more children after a hysterectomy, so Beatie stopped taking his hormone pills and vowed to get pregnant.
The couple chose an anonymous sperm donor and did the artificial insemination themselves. After one failed attempt, bearded Beatie became pregnant with Susan and posed for a series of photos showing off his swelling stomach.
Susan, Austin and Jensen were all born in quick succession, but after moving to Phoenix, Arizona, Beatie and Nancy’s marriage fell apart and he fell in love with Nichols, who is four years his senior.
Beatie had a daughter and two sons in quick succession with ex-wife Nancy, but as their marriage unraveled, he fell for their kids’ preschool director, Amber Nichols. Nichols has a daughter (left) and granddaughter of her own (right)
Legal battles over his divorce dragged on for so long that he feared he’d never manage to tie the knot with Nichols, but the couple tied the knot in February
It was then that Beatie started dreaming of a big white wedding – involving all three of his children and Nichols’ granddaughter Lily, who also lives with them.
‘Almost as soon as Amber and I got together, Susan started asking when we were getting married,’ Beatie says.
‘She was definitely the wedding planner, she had very definite ideas of what she wanted. And it was then that I started dreaming of a big white wedding.’
But Beatie’s divorce took almost four years. Judges in Arizona initially refused to accept that his Hawaiian marriage was legal.
But even after the state’s appeal court ruled in his favor, his battle with now-52-year-old Nancy took another 12 months.
The divorce was finalized at the end of last year, with Beatie and Nancy agreeing to share custody of the children.
‘Finally, Amber and I were able to start really planning our wedding,’ says Beatie. ‘But we kept the exact date secret even from the kids because we didn’t want anything to derail it.
‘Susan was involved in the planning from day one but every time she asked when it would be we’d just say soon, we wanted it to be a big surprise for the kids.
‘And I must admit, I had no idea just how much was involved. We had an official wedding planner and there were so many details we had to go through, everything from food tastings to floral arrangements and invitations.
‘We found this amazing venue – a five-acre tropical oasis called the Boojum Tree Hidden Gardens in the middle of the desert.
‘It is so beautiful, full of palm trees and water falls. We married in front of a lily pad pond with a fountain.’
After the couple finally decided on a location, they decided to wed on February 27.
‘I was incredibly nervous,’ says Beatie, who wore a black suit, white shirt and eggplant colored tie. to the ceremony.
Susan and Lily, wearing eggplant purple dresses, black tights and black shoes, scattered 5,000 rose petals along the aisle as six-year-old Austin and Jensen, five, waited with Beatie.
Beatie says his eyes started brimming over when he turned to see Nichols, wearing an egg shell white beaded vintage gown and lace veil.
The ceremony was filled with dramatics, including the couple forgetting their marriage certificate at home before the wedding
‘She was just so beautiful,’ he says, choking back emotion.
Fifty guests, including Nichols’ parents, two brothers and 19-year-old daughter Mattie, watched as the couple read out vows they had written themselves before ordained wedding officiant Deborah Hajek declared them man and wife.
The 20-minute ceremony was followed by cocktails in a rustic bar and a sit-down meal of chicken, pasta and roast vegetables.
‘Susan was super, super excited by the deserts,’ says Beatie. ‘Instead of a traditional bride and groom figures on top of the main cake, we had two sea horses kissing.
‘When Susan was tiny her favorite bedtime story was a book about male sea horses who give birth. I used that story to explain how I’d given birth to her.
‘We cut a cake but I did not smooch it in Amber’s face. And Amber’s best friend Tracy Segura made the best man’s speech.
‘Our first dance was the first 30 seconds of Endless Love by Luther Vandross – that was our little joke as we’re not really in to that sort of music.
‘Then the tape moved to Watch Me, which has lots of different dance moves, so it wasn’t the traditional slow record.’
The $25,000 wedding meant the couple couldn’t afford a honeymoon but they spent their wedding night at a nearby hotel, while Nichols’ family looked after the children.
As they lay on the bed, the couple laughed over four near disasters that almost derailed their perfect day.
‘There were a few hic-coughs that at the time we thought were utter catastrophes,’ says Beatie.
‘Amber was very stressed out trying to find the perfect dress. She had definite ideas of what exactly she wanted but everything in the stores seemed to be the same generic style.
‘Then she saw one on the internet. It was from China, a knock-off designer gown that was only $250.
Beatie, pictured here 22 weeks pregnant, first made headlines in 2008 when he became the world’s first pregnant man
At the time he was married to his first wife, former bodybuilder Nancy. They are pictured together above in 2011
‘We were worried that it wouldn’t be legit but there were positive reviews on the website, so we wired the money.
‘But when it arrived it looked like a Halloween costume from Walmart. It was absolutely awful and looked nothing like the photo we had seen on the web.
‘We had no way of returning it, so Amber used some of the material to make the floral arrangements.
‘Then at the last minute she found a signature Galina gown in egg shell white with beading and lace on the top – it was just the dress she’d always dreamed of.
‘Amber made her own bouquet of ivory roses, purple tulips and mini green hydrangeas. She accidentally left it in the fridge at our house and – unbeknown to me – was in an absolute panic.
‘Luckily the wedding planner and florist had spare flowers left over and managed to recreate the exact bouquet.
‘Meanwhile, the boys and I were getting into our outfits in a separate room at the venue when I realized Austin’s suit was missing.
‘I was absolutely freaking out but someone went back to the car and found it there.
‘We also forgot the wedding certificate. Can you believe we left the most important document at home?
‘In the end it didn’t matter. The ceremony went ahead and we just returned with our witnesses, Amber’s best friend Tracy and her husband Cesar, to sign the certificate a few days later.
‘We are now legally married and it feels wonderful to finally be Mr and Mrs Beatie.’
Esthetician Nichols, who lost her preschool job when her affair with Beatie became public and has retrained as an esthetician selling skin care products, says she felt relatively calm, compared to Beatie, during the ceremony.
‘He was much more emotional – I couldn’t believe just how emotional, he couldn’t stop crying,’ she says.
‘For me it felt like I was in a dream – a really beautiful dream. Everything was perfect.’
Beatie wanted the ceremony to be totally different to his quickie Hawaiian wedding to Nancy.
Beatie and Nancy, pictured above in 2008 with their daughter, went through a lengthy divorce and decided to share custody of their children
‘Last time I married before a justice of the peace with just Nancy’s daughter and a friend as witnesses. I wore khaki pants and a lavender top, Nancy wore a lavender dress,’ he says.
‘This time I wanted to be there in a suit and tie, with all of our family and friends around us.’
Like many newlyweds, Beatie, whose parents are both dead, and Nichols are trying for a baby.
But even though he could still get pregnant again, Beatie concedes that at 42 he could now be too old.
‘We still have some of my eggs frozen but the quality decreases the longer they are stored,’ he explains.
Nichols managed to get pregnant once – using Beatie’ eggs and the same donor sperm used to conceive his three children – but sadly miscarried
‘We’re going to try again now we’re married,’ says Beatie. ‘We would love a baby together but if it doesn’t happen so be it.
‘Amber’s granddaughter Lily lives with us too and makes our family complete. It can be noisy and chaotic with four children aged three, five, six and seven but we love it.
‘Susan and Lily share a bedroom – it is all sparkly pink and purple and packed with Frozen toys and figurines.
‘They have a dress up box of outfits, princess gowns and wands, and they are always making necklaces from beads.
‘Austin and Jensen’s room has shelves full of Star Wars stuff and their Lego creations – they love to build castles and spaceships. There are dinosaurs and toy cars everywhere and the ceiling has the solar system on it.
‘They are pretty stereotypical. The girls like pink and purple and the boys say their colors are blue and red.
‘They get mad if they are given the wrong color drinking cup at night.’
Beatie, who travels the world giving motivational speeches about his experiences as the world’s first pregnant man, has already done the ‘birds and bees’ chat with his children.
‘When explaining my childhood and history, Susan once asked me if she would turn into a man when she grew up,’ he says. ‘I told her only if she wanted to be.
‘They know I gave birth to them with the help of a sperm donor, who they call the nice man.
‘The kids ask me questions and I always answer. I’m not going to hide anything.
‘I always tell the kids we are unique, we were formed in a different way from other families. They understand that and love to talk about it. They think that both daddies and mommies give birth.’
Story & Image Source: Dailymail