Not only are Ashleigh and Bliss Coulter both mothers to their son, they also both had the special opportunity of carrying the baby, one after the other.
The Mountain Springs, Texas, same-sex couple became the first mothers in the world to have shared responsibility of carrying their son, Stetson, who was born in June.
“I gave birth to him and I can see her in him – I see her features and stuff,” Ashleigh, 29, told InsideEdition.com. “There’s not a lot of same-sex couples that can say that, which is really really big and special to us.”
The Coulters used a method called reciprocal effortless in vitro fertilization (IVF), in which the eggs are harvested and introduced to sperm in a capsule called an INVOcell device. The device is then placed into the woman’s vagina, where it is kept for five days to simulate an incubator before the embryos are removed and frozen until the woman is ready to receive them.
Dr. Kathy Doody from C.A.R.E. Fertility Clinic in Bedford, who helped develop the technology, explained the method was developed with hopes of giving couples a cheaper and more accessible option for IVF. Doody added that the embryo would traditionally be placed again in the same mother that had the INVOcell device.
But when Bliss and Ashleigh approached her with how they envisioned expanding their family, Doody was willing to give it a shot.
“I knew that I wanted to have a child that was biologically mine but I didn’t want to carry my child,” Bliss said. “I started reaching out to fertility doctors, saying, ‘This is what I had in mind,’ and got a lot of no.”
She eventually reached out to Doody, who suggested they give this method a try.
“She said, ‘Obviously it had never been done before. I don’t know if it’ll work, but if y’all are willing to try, let’s go for it,’” Bliss recalled.
After Bliss had her eggs harvested and then carried the INVOcell device, Ashleigh was fertilized using her wife’s egg and eventually birth their baby.
“We were kind of taken aback,” Ashleigh said. “We didn’t think that was how we were going to be doing it – we obviously thought I would be the one doing all the carrying. But we were also excited, we left the office and we were laughing – that means both of us are going to be carrying the baby. That’s so cool.”
Bliss explained that even though she never intended to carry her own baby, she said it was important for her to raise awareness for “the LGBT community as a whole, to let everybody know there are other options out there and different ways to start a family.”
In fact, another same-sex couple that conceived using the same method gave birth to their baby in September, Doody said.