Toward the end of his weekly coronavirus town hall on Thursday night, Anderson Cooper broke some good news and offered a moment of reprieve from the ongoing pandemic: “I am a dad.”
“I have a son, and I want you to meet him,” the CNN anchor said.
Cooper, 52, announced on Thursday that a surrogate gave birth to Wyatt Morgan Cooper, who was born on Monday at 7.2 pounds.
The anchor, whose interviews during the pandemic have seen him clash with Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and console a woman whose husband had died of COVID-19, was emotional in announcing Wyatt’s birth on a day in which the U.S. coronavirus death toll approached 63,000.
“It’s been a difficult time in all of our lives, and there are certainly many hard days ahead,” Cooper said. “It is, I think, especially important in these times of trouble to try to hold on to moments of joy and moments of happiness.”
He added, “Even as we mourn the loss of loved ones, we’re also blessed with new life and new love.”
When he said on-air that he had become a father, Cooper was still processing the weight of the life event.
“I’ve never actually said that before, out loud, and it still kind of astonishes me,” he said. “I am a dad.”
In an Instagram post earlier in the day, Cooper, who included the first images of his newborn son, described Wyatt as “sweet, and soft, and healthy.” Cooper credited the surrogate and doctors who helped along the way.
“As a gay kid, I never thought it would be possible to have a child, and I’m grateful for all those who have paved the way, and for the doctors and nurses and everyone involved in my son’s birth,” he said. “Most of all, I am eternally grateful to a remarkable surrogate who carried Wyatt, watched over him lovingly, tenderly, and gave birth to him. It’s an extraordinary blessing which she and all surrogates give to families who can’t have children.”
In picking his son’s name, the host looked to his family. Wyatt was the name of Cooper’s father, a screenwriter and author who died of a heart attack when the CNN anchor was only 10 years old. His death at 50 affected Cooper “enormously,” remembered his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, to New York magazine in 2005. (Vanderbilt, 95, died of stomach cancer last June.)
“I think I’m a lot like my father,” he said in 2005. “I reread his book, (‘Families: A Memoir and a Celebration’), probably once a year. To me it’s sort of a letter from him to me and sort of a guide on … how he would have wanted me to live my life and the choices he would have wanted me to make. And so I feel very connected to him.”
He mentioned his father last week while interviewing Katie Coelho, a 33-year-old widow whose 32-year-old husband, Jonathan, died of COVID-19 after a four-week stay at a Connecticut hospital.
“I can tell you my dad died when I was a little kid and I know he really tried not to die because he didn’t want to leave my brother and I and not have us know him,” the host said to Coelho last week, fighting through the tears.
On Thursday, Cooper explained that the baby’s middle name, Morgan, came from a list his parents had made of possible names for him 52 years ago.
Even in finding happiness during the global crisis, Cooper got choked up as he mentioned those who aren’t alive to meet Wyatt. He remembered his parents and late brother, Carter, who killed himself at the age of 23.
“I imagine them all together, arms around each other, smiling and laughing, happy to know that their love is alive in me and in Wyatt, and that our family continues,” he said.
As the photos of his baby flashed across the screen at the end of the show, Cooper, overwhelmed by the events of the week, said he wanted to be to Wyatt what his own father was to him.
“I hope I can be as good a dad as he was,” he said.