Never has a newborn had so many unofficial aunties.
Because when Benjamin Allen Cohen entered the world some two years ago, there was a slew of famous ladies just chomping at the bit to shower him with love, designer baby gear and, perhaps, tagline suggestions.
Such is the life when you're the heir to the entire Real Housewives empire.
Even before Andy Cohen's son made his appearance in February 2019, his celebrity wattage was recognized, women from every corner of the Bravo franchise (plus Cohen friend John Mayer) descending on L.A. to celebrate his impending arrival at A Star Is Born-themed bash thrown by OGs Kyle Richards, Ramona Singer, NeNe Leakes, Teresa Giudice and Vicki Gunvalson.
"Get up on a f--king table and dance for Andy now," Real Housewives of Beverly Hills representative Lisa Rinna crowed, ordering everyone atop the flower-lined tables at The Palm, the posh Beverly Hills steakhouse co-owned by Cohen pal Bruce Bozzi. "He paid for your life." So safe to say Benjamin will be kept in $400 Fendi cashmere pants for years to come.
And that's not even counting his East Coast crew, the Bravo exec turned face of the network and consummate host rolling with a squad that includes besties Anderson Cooper, Kelly Ripa and Sarah Jessica Parker, who dropped off a bin of hand-me-downs.
"Kelly Ripa helped me find my baby nurse, who's incredible," he told People. "Sarah Jessica sat with me for three hours on a Saturday and helped me do my registry. And she lent me clothes and burp cloths that she had saved from her kids. She labeled them all. She left me a big plastic container full of things that she knew I would need."
It's what he had envisioned when he decided in late 2017 to investigate the surrogacy process, the procedure taking place mere days before he'd celebrate his 50th birthday. Sure, he was going the single dad route, but he knew that with his tight-knit circle, he'd never be truly alone. "I want Benny to be surrounded by as many women as possible," he noted to People. "Women have played such a key role in my life. My most important relationship has probably been with my mom. He will be surrounded by women. He needs it. We all need it."
So, save for the excruciating 12 or so days when a coronavirus diagnosis forced him to quarantine away from his son, this whole dad business is going pretty much as expected for the St. Louis native who called becoming a parent, "something I've wanted in my heart for my entire life."
When he made that December 2018 announcement, he predicted that fatherhood "will be my most rewarding yet," and judging by his Instagram feed, he's loved every last snuggle, bottle feed and swim lesson.
"Everything has changed," he shared on a June 2019 episode of Late Night With Seth Meyers. So even with his stroller fears and the new SUV he had to buy to schlep around the seemingly unending amount of baby gear, parenting feels amazing, he continued. "He's a little lovebug."
The self-described soccer mom has even dealt with the inevitable keyboard critics with aplomb. Not quite two weeks in, he shared, he'd learned one of the earliest lessons: "People are judgy as f--k."
But even that's not enough to damper the joy he's felt since all nine pounds, two ounces of Benjamin made his debut in a California hospital.
"I was in the delivery room," Cohen shared with People days later. "I had been hoping that he would have a full head of hair, and he really overdelivered. That was the first thing you see, the head of hair coming out. And I was amazed."
Following his surrogate's labor, he was tasked with cutting the umbilical cord and then enjoyed his very first skin-to-skin session with his newborn. "He was so alert for the first two hours. His eyes were wide open. He didn't cry; he was just calm," he recalled. "I kind of have no words for it."
And he's not the only one charmed by his sweet demeanor, enviable hair and squishable thighs. Who but People's designated "Cutest Baby Alive" could get legendary designer Diane von Furstenberg to crawl around on all fours? Or Uncle Anderson to make silly faces?
Good thing each encounter is preserved on the Internet for prosperity. Because Benjamin has already enjoyed quite the highlight reel. And Cohen has no intention of slowing down, their beach days, trips back to his native Missouri and visits to the Statue of Liberty, the stuff he dreamed about when he first contemplated parenting.
"I'm excited to go on adventures with him and show him the world," he noted to People. "I want to see him running around a big green yard. I want to teach him to swim." Thankfully, the career he's spent decades nurturing affords him the option to split his days between his duplex in NYC's West Village, a home in the Hamptons and wherever else he may decide to bide his time.
"I'm in a place in my life where I have a pretty generous schedule and where I can afford to pick up and go somewhere for the weekend," he explained. In other words, Benjamin better have a passport at the ready.
His dance card is filling up fast, as well.
No surprise that the toddler is a hot playdate amongst the under two set. Though his regular meet-ups with Amy Schumer's similarly aged son Gene David Fischer have been temporarily put on hold, "they're little friends," the comedian revealed during an April appearance on Watch What Happens Live.
And, naturally, he and Anderson Cooper's son Wyatt Morgan Cooper are destined to be best friends. "Wyatt Cooper, you couldn't have come at a better time!" Cohen gushed after his late April arrival. "I know a friend who can't wait to meet you!" (As an added bonus, it will reunite Ben with his former nanny, who has gone on to help the CNN host navigate sleep schedules.)
But while Cohen is excited for the big milestones—his first day of school, a bar mitzvah—he's savoring the thousands of little ones that come first. At four months, he reported to People, his son was growing rapidly: "He is drinking his milk, he is a really chill baby. He is trying to crawl. He's grasping a lot, a lot of eye contact, focusing on books. He can hold his bottle almost."
He's also developed an affection for Snoopy, is mastering the art of solids ("He always hates the first bite and it amuse me every time," Cohen shared in September), uttering his first words and winning over a crowd of ladies not used to welcoming outsiders in, with Kyle Richards, Vicki Gunvalson and Bethenny Frankel all making their acquaintance.
"Fatherhood is a new adventure every day, and watching Ben grow has been a total joy and eye-opening joy ride," Cohen mused to People. "It can feel overwhelming. But when he looks at me and smiles or laughs at something I say, everything feels right."
(E! and Bravo are both part of the NBCU Family.)
(Originally published Feb. 4, 2020 at 11:30 a.m. PT)