When Ashleigh Coulter and Bliss Coulter were married, they knew they eventually wanted to start a family. They also knew that since they were a same sex couple they would need a little help from science to achieve their dreams of becoming mothers.
"Obviously, us being two women, we were like how can we make this happen?" Ashleigh said. "We felt like there has to be a way."
Both of the women admitted to wanting to be mothers, however while Ashleigh tells WFAA ABC 8 that she really wanted to be pregnant, Bliss was happy to not carry the child. Fertility specialists Dr. Kathy Doody and husband Dr. Kevin Doody however had a way that made it possible for both women to carry their child, making them the first to ever carry the same baby.
Dr. Kathy Doody explained to the news station that thanks to a procedure called reciprocal effortless In Vitro Fertilization, the embryo created using a sperm donor and egg harvested from Bliss was placed in to a "chamber of the INVOcell device immediately after egg retrieval." That device was then implanted in to Bliss where the embryo would begin the first stages of development. In traditional IVF circumstances the embryo would first be placed in an incubator.
"She got the embryo off to an early start," Kathy said. "The eggs fertilized in her body and when they returned five days later, we removed the device and froze the embryos. It turns out, not surprisingly, that the woman's own body is a very good incubator," the doctor explained while clarifying how INVOcell works. "We have livers, kidneys and lungs so we're able to provide those same services to the embryo more naturally."
After evaluations determined that Ashleigh's body was ready, the embryo was then transferred to her and she was able to get pregnant. "She got to carry him for five days and was a big part of the fertilization, and then I carried him for nine months," Ashleigh told the news station. "So that made it really special for the both of us—that we were both involved. She got to be a part of it, and I got to be a part of it."
Not only did both mothers have a chance to carry their child, but the cost of reciprocal effortless In Vitro Fertilization is significantly less than tradition IVF. The method used by Ashleigh and Bliss can cost couples approximately $8000 including medication, while traditional IVF is more expensive and could cost a couple anywhere from $15000 - $20000.
The couple are now the proud parents of a 5 month old son named Stetson, and they couldn't be happier. "He's our miracle baby," Ashleigh said before Bliss added, "he's perfect."
Dr. Kathy Doody feels that this could be a way to help more families welcome children. "I think that family, relationship, children is exactly everything that was meant to be in our world," she said. "I think it opens up new avenues, new choices for same sex couples."