For most same-sex couples, the process of childbearing is not without its share of planning and headaches. Unlike heterosexual couples, the possibility of an accidental pregnancy when you're gay or lesbian is slim to none, so moms- and dads-to-be usually have to get creative with fertility methods and embrace the possibility of adoption once they commit to starting a family.
With lesbian couples, where both women often share maternal instincts and the desire to carry children, there exists a sort of clichéd urban legend fantasy of the two getting pregnant at the same time with the sperm of the same donor and effectively giving birth to bonafide siblings (twins) on the same day.
I call this master plan an urban legend — and reiterate the cliché of it — because it's the kind of arrangement almost every lesbian thinks she wants, but complications often arise and get in the way. For one, what are the odds that both women will have eggs that take to being fertilized? Secondly, you have to have the funds for two of these procedures, which are insanely costly at best (take it from me, who briefly looked into freezing eggs). And lastly, parents might be able to grasp how hard it is to take care of one person with child — so just imagine having to tend to a pregnant partner while you're pregnant yourself.
Essentially, all the stars have to align perfectly for two loving ladies to pull this off, and that's exactly what happened with Mississippi couple Anna and Renee McInarnay, who discovered they were both pregnant with the same donor and expecting at the same time.
Anna penned her and her wife's incredible story on Love What Matters, which quickly picked up and went viral on the internet because of the expectant parents' unusual arrangement.
In her personal essay, Anna shares how the couple was initially hesitant about parenthood and knew they wouldn't have a great chance at adoption, since the laws in Mississippi make it difficult for same sex couples. In the end, they opted for fertility.
"We felt the most love and openness from a fertility clinic when we called Audubon Fertility in New Orleans," Anna writes. "After initial testing, we were told we could both conceive."
Some complications arose when Renee was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), and doctors said she might have difficulty getting pregnant. But that didn't stop the couple from trying:
We decided we would try to see how many eggs were ready between us both in an attempt to limit the time we needed to spend in treatment. We also knew that the likelihood of us both conceiving was very low, especially on the first try. While we weren’t opposed to being pregnant at the same time, we didn’t think of it as a likely possibility.
As Anna describes it, the two decided to try their luck at harvesting and settled on the same sperm donor so they could try again down the line, in the event only one of their pregnancies took this time around.
"We found out that Anna had three eggs that were ready. When they checked Renee, one of her ovaries was quiet, but on the other side was a little egg! We called it our unicorn baby," she writes.
Although the prohibitive cost made it so the couple almost didn't go through with Renee's treatment, the PCOS nurse urged them to try. "She reminded us how amazing it was that we were ovulating at the same time, and that we both had eggs mature enough for treatment," Anna explains. "So, we did, never expecting the odds to be in our favor."
The two-week wait felt like forever, according to the couple. When the doctors finally called, they asked if Anna and Renee were both sitting down: "They said, ‘Anna is pregnant.’ We all just screamed. Then they said, ‘So is Renee.’ Right after the screaming and the jumping, we hung up the phone and held each other and cried."
Ten weeks later, the babies' genders were revealed. The couple found out they were about to be mothers to girls, Emma and Avonlea. "Since they were conceived 15 minutes apart by the same donor, we call the girls ‘paternal twins’ even though we know they are half-sisters and not official twins," gushed Anna.
Initially, the moms wanted to give birth to their "twins" on the same day, but decided against it after doctors "pointed out that laboring at the same time with epidurals would keep [them] to [their] beds." Instead, they "made the decision that having the girls have the same birthday was less important" than the couple "being able to be there to love and support each other through their births."
After learning the first mom would need a 36-hour recovery, they wheeled Renee in to the hospital to give birth to baby girl Emma. "Then we will wait to let Renee recover ... hopefully around 36 hours later, Avonlea will be born," Anna blogged. "This is the plan, but we know what will be will be."
Per Anna's latest Facebook update, the two arrived at the hospital last week to await their first. "We are officially in the hospital for #BabyWatch2018," she shared. "Emma is set to make her way first way later this evening barring any complications. Renee is a champ and is going to make me look like a total wuss when it’s my turn. 😂 After a short break, Avonlea will make her way too. We appreciate all the love, concern, and support we have received from family, friends, and strangers who feel like friends now. ❤️"
Renee chimed in a few days later to share that both babies and mommies were healthy and happy. "It was a very long labor that resulted in a c-section but our Emma Reese came into the world today at 11:49 am. She is 7.13 pounds and 20 3/4 inches," she wrote yesterday.
Earlier this morning, she shared the update that completes their family:
Beautiful, sweet curly headed Avonlea Grace has arrived at 4:01 am this morning at 7.1 pounds and 20 inches. She has lungs like her Mommy. Anna is doing great and is currently snuggled up in some skin to skin love with our perfect little one. We can’t wait to post pictures of our beautiful girls!
Neither can we! We wish both moms and healthy recovery, and can't wait to see what will become of this lovely family of four ladies.