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Same-sex couple BOTH carry their child in a pregnancy first

Same-sex couple BOTH carry their child in a pregnancy first

Bliss and Ashleigh Coulter with baby son, Stetson - Bliss donated eggs

A same-sex couple in Texas are believed to be the first in the world to have both carried their child.

Ashleigh and Bliss Coulter live in North Texas. Their dream of becoming moms became a reality in June when Ashleigh, 29, gave birth to son, Stetson.

The women took advantage of a new fertility treatment called Effortless Reciprocal IVF.

The procedure is still being trialled in many parts of the world and is not widely available. For example, in the UK, it has not yet been approved by the HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority).

One clinic that does offer the treatment is the C.A.R.E Fertility Clinic in Texas. The women were treated by the clinic’s husband and wife team of Drs Kevin and Kathy Doody.

Fertilizing the eggs

In traditional IVF, the eggs are fertilized with sperms cells in a test tube or petri dish (in vitro). The eggs are then incubated for a few days in a laboratory incubator. Successful embryos are then transplanted into the uterus of the woman who will carry them.

The difference with Effortless Reciprocal IVF is that instead of being placed in an incubator, the fertilized eggs are placed in a small medical device called an INVOcell. This is placed in the cervix of the woman. After five days, when embryos develop, one or more are placed in her uterus.

The Coulters specifically sought at the treatment as they both wanted to be closely involved with the pregnancy.

In August 2017, Bliss’ eggs were harvested. They were inseminated with donated sperm. Fertilized eggs where then placed in the INVOcell and placed in Bliss’ uterus.

Bliss says she was not keen to be go through the experience of pregnancy. Ashleigh, on the other hand, was eager to carry a child.

After five days, the INVOcell was removed from Bliss’ uterus. A viable embryo was identified and then placed in Ashleigh’s womb. Other embryos were frozen.

Ashleigh then carried their son through to birth. Stetson was born weighing 8 pounds and 3 ounces, and is now a thriving five-month old baby.

A medical first

‘It was so exciting knowing that I was growing my own biological child inside of me,’ Bliss told the New York Post.

‘When we found out we were pregnant, we were more focused on the fact that [we were going to be mothers],’ Ashleigh says. ‘It didn’t cross our minds that we had done something that no one else had done before.

‘It’s a great way to involve both people in the relationship.’

The doctor who treated them, Dr Kathy Doody told CBS Local that although she has helped heterosexual women achieve pregnancy by this method, ‘This represents the first time that two women have both physically carried their child together.’

It’s not unusual for lesbian couples to have children, and sometimes one woman will donate the eggs while the other carries the child. This can be for a variety of reasons, such as health and age. It can also help make both women feel intimately connected to the pregnancy and resulting child.

However, this is believed to be the first time that Effortless Reciprocal IVF has been used by a same-sex couple.

A cheaper form of IVF

According to the clinic, one of the benefits of the system is that it cuts down on the need for expensive incubators, and can mean a 50% reduction in IVF costs. The couple say they paid less than $15,000 for the procedure.

Ashleigh says the experience has had a massive impact on her and her wife. She told CBS Local, ‘You know your whole life changes obviously with anybody when they have a baby so leaning on your partner I think is really, really important and I definitely think it brought us closer together.’

See also

Gay dads adopt boy, after lesbian moms adopt his sisters

Lesbian moms speak about their beloved baby – born severely premature and fighting for survival