Advances in medicine have allowed two North Texas mothers to reportedly make medical history. The married couple both carried their baby during pregnancy, the first couple to ever reportedly to do so, according to ABC News. It was all possible due to a procedure called Reciprocal effortless In Vitro Fertilization or Reciprocal effortless IVF, says ABC News.
Ashleigh and Bliss Coulter of Mountain Springs, Texas, talked about having kids before they even got married, ABC News reports. Ashleigh said she definitely wanted kids, says ABC News, but Bliss was reportedly hesitant. "I wanted a child that was biologically mine, but I did not want to carry the child," Bliss told ABC News.
According to People, the Coulters knew that typically one mother would carry and deliver the baby because the “the technology and science just wasn’t there” for both of them to physically be involved. Despite knowing the barriers they were facing, the couple still went to numerous doctors to find out what their options were, says People. That’s how they found fertility specialists Dr. Kathy Doody and her husband Dr. Kevin Doody at CARE Fertility in Bedford, Texas, who tried in vitro fertilization using effortless IVF, People reports.
“We were just talking one night at home, and I said, ‘You know, I think we could use this for a same-sex couple,'” Dr. Kathy Doody told WFAA. “And Kevin said, ‘I think you’re right. I think we could.'”
The process starts like traditional IVF, says USA Today; Bliss had her ovaries stimulated so her eggs could be harvested. But instead of having Bliss’ eggs and the donated sperm placed in incubators in the lab, according to USA Today, they were placed in a device called an INVOcell immediately after her eggs were retrieved. The donated sperm and Bliss’ eggs were then placed into Bliss’ body for five days so the embryo could develop, USA Today reports.
"She got the embryo off to an early start," Kathy Doody told USA Today. "The eggs fertilized in her body, and when [the Coulters] returned five days later, we removed the device and froze the embryos." Once Ashleigh was done with her hormone treatments, Bliss’ embryo was placed in Ashleigh's uterus, and Ashleigh became pregnant on their first try, ABC News reports. The couple’s son, Stetson, was born healthy and without complications in June of 2018, says ABC News.
What’s really groundbreaking about this situation is that it’s reportedly the first time effortless IVF has been used for a sex-same couple, according to ABC News, so they can experience what opposite-sex couples take for granted when having children: a shared birth experience. The Doodys alone have performed effortless IVF on around 200 heterosexual couples, CBS News reports. "This represents the first time that two women have both physically carried their child together," Kathy Doody told CBS News.
Kathy Doody told USA Today she thinks effortless IVF opens up new choices for same-sex couples that they didn’t have previously when it comes to their fertility. It’s encouraging to hear there’s a new option for any couple looking to have this kind of birthing experience with their partner.