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Same-Sex Couple Becomes First to Carry the Same Baby


The Baby Was Born Using Reciprocal Effortless In Vitro Fertilization

Ashleigh and Bliss Coulter gave birth to a beautiful baby boy back in June 2018, marking the first time a same-sex couple has carried the same baby. The fertility process used a combination of reciprocal in vitro fertilization and effortless in vitro fertilization, using the eggs from one mother and putting them inside the uterus of the other mother. Both mothers wanted to play a role in creating their first child, hoping for a stronger physical connection to the newest member of their family. Thanks to this new form of IVF, both women were able to carry baby Stetson. Learn more about this truly remarkable story.


How Baby Stetson Came to Be

Ashleigh and Bliss Coulter met and fell in love six years ago and were married in June 2015. Like most couples, the two started talking about raising kids long before they said, “I do.” But the idea of conceiving a child was a complicated matter for the young couple. For instance, who would carry the child?

Both parents wanted a biological connection to the child, but Bliss wasn’t sure if she was up to carrying the baby to term. Typically, same-sex couples will use IVF to conceive a child, usually from a sperm donor, while one parent gives birth to the child. Yet, this would mean that only one parent would be the child’s biological mother.

While researching the subject of IVF, the couple eventually got in touch with Dr. Kathy Doody, a fertility specialist from the C.A.R.E Fertility Clinic in Bedford, known for her cutting-edge IVF techniques. Dr. Doody told the couple they could indeed carry the same child using a process known as reciprocal effortless IVF.


What Is Reciprocal Effortless IVF?

This new process uses a combination of both reciprocal IVF and effortless IVF.

Reciprocal IVF is a process in which eggs are harvested from one woman and fertilized in a laboratory until an embryo is formed. Then the embryo is placed in the second woman who will then carry the baby to term.

Effortless IVF is a process in which one woman’s eggs and the sperm from a donor are placed in a capsule known as an INVOcell device. The two samples are then placed in a woman’s vagina, so the sperm can fertilize the woman’s eggs and form an embryo.

But, with the help of Dr. Doody, Ashleigh and Bliss Coulter combined these two processes to make sure that each woman had a biological connection to the child. The doctor harvested eggs from Bliss and introduced them to a sperm sample in a capsule, just like regular effortless IVF. But instead of giving the capsule to the woman who would eventually carry the baby to term, the doctor gave the capsule back to Bliss who would form the embryos after five days. The embryos were then passed on to Ashleigh. After some initial hormone treatments, Ashleigh would go on to carry the child to term. Thus, both women carried the same child.


The Future of IVF

The case of baby Stetson and his two mothers is the first of its kind. Dr. Doody has stated that she believes it’s her job to help couples find ways to bond biologically with their child. This new form of reciprocal effortless IVF may help other same-sex achieve the same results. Same-sex partners may no longer have to settle with one person carrying the baby. While this new form of IVF is more expensive than other in vitro fertilization treatments, having both parents carry the child creates a stronger child-parent bond.


As word spreads of Bliss and Ashleigh’s success, more same-sex parents will likely explore the option of reciprocal effortless IVF in the future.


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