As nativity stories go, it could hardly be more modern, more brave or more touching. Devoted couple Emily Patrick and Kerry Osborn are pregnant with each other’s babies, and will give birth within weeks of each other.

In a pioneering case, the first of its kind known in Britain, the women swapped embryos – both fertilised by the same sperm donor – during IVF treatment. Now Emily, 38, a creative producer, will give birth to a son who is biologically Kerry’s at New Year. School teacher Kerry, 35, will follow in February, giving birth to a little boy grown from Emily’s egg.

It means that, uniquely, both women are simultaneously pregnant and will go on to raise two sons – where one boy carries the DNA of one mother after being birthed by the other, and vice versa for his sibling.

‘We wanted a family in which we both felt deeply physically and emotionally connected to each other’s babies,’ says Emily. ‘There wasn’t a blueprint for this but it made sense to us. With a straight couple both parents share in the creation of their child. We can’t do that. But we can be equal mothers to both sons. They’ll have the same father and we will be their mothers in different but equally profound and loving ways.

‘Beforehand we wondered if we’d ever think about the fact that the baby we are carrying is not our own biological child. But it’s such a physical and emotional experience feeling a child grow inside you, that there’s no way in which it’s not “yours”.’

Devoted couple Emily Patrick (right) and Kerry Osborn (left) are pregnant with each other’s babies, and will give birth within weeks of each other. Pictured: Holding their baby scans

In a pioneering case, the first of its kind known in Britain, the women swapped embryos ¿ both fertilised by the same sperm donor ¿ during IVF treatment

In a pioneering case, the first of its kind known in Britain, the women swapped embryos – both fertilised by the same sperm donor – during IVF treatment

Now Emily, 38, a creative producer, will give birth to a son who is biologically Kerry¿s at New Year. Pictured: Emily holding her baby scan

Now Emily, 38, a creative producer, will give birth to a son who is biologically Kerry’s at New Year. Pictured: Emily holding her baby scan

School teacher Kerry, 35, will follow in February, giving birth to a little boy grown from Emily¿s egg. Pictured: Kerry holding her baby scan

School teacher Kerry, 35, will follow in February, giving birth to a little boy grown from Emily’s egg. Pictured: Kerry holding her baby scan

It means that, uniquely, both women are simultaneously pregnant and will go on to raise two sons. Pictured: Together, with their retired greyhound Dotty

It means that, uniquely, both women are simultaneously pregnant and will go on to raise two sons. Pictured: Together, with their retired greyhound Dotty

One boy will carry the DNA of one mother after being birthed by the other, and vice versa for his sibling

One boy will carry the DNA of one mother after being birthed by the other, and vice versa for his sibling

Indeed, as Emily is talking, Kerry’s son, just a couple of weeks from his due date, is kicking hard beneath her maternity jeans.

Kerry continues: ‘It’s a privilege to be pregnant with Emily’s baby. There was no big conversation, it just felt natural to us, doing this amazing thing with and for the person you love most.

‘We recognise that even a few years ago, this kind of reciprocal IVF wouldn’t have been an option. It was much harder to be gay parents. It says a lot about how far opinions have evolved that not only can we do this, but that so many people from the LGBTQ+ community are now following our progress and thinking about doing it too.

‘We don’t feel like pioneers, but I hope that in some sense we are and that one day soon this will be considered normal.

‘The only people I was anxious about telling were my grandparents, and all they can think about is how they’re going to be great-grandparents to not one but two babies in the space of eight weeks.’

The private procedure has cost the women an estimated £25,000, which includes buying sperm from an anonymous donor – an American man with Dutch and German heritage. Since he donated at a British clinic, under UK law the boys will have the right to know his identity when they turn 18, something Emily and Kerry welcome.

‘Curiosity about where you’re from is normal and natural, the boys should absolutely have the right to know who fathered them and what he’s like,’ says Kerry. ‘I don’t think there’s anything to lose, but by finding out about the other half of themselves, they have everything to gain.’

Emily adds: ‘We plan on being open and honest with our children from the beginning. Let’s face it, the moment they realise they’ve got two mothers, they’re going to twig there was someone else involved.’

As Emily is talking, Kerry¿s son, just a couple of weeks from his due date, is kicking hard beneath her maternity jeans

As Emily is talking, Kerry’s son, just a couple of weeks from his due date, is kicking hard beneath her maternity jeans

Today, the couple¿s most pressing problem is the fact that they¿ll soon have two newborns in the pretty, all-white, double nursery they have prepared at the Victorian home in Gosport, Hampshire

Today, the couple’s most pressing problem is the fact that they’ll soon have two newborns in the pretty, all-white, double nursery they have prepared at the Victorian home in Gosport, Hampshire

The private procedure has cost the women an estimated £25,000, which includes buying sperm from an anonymous donor ¿ an American man with Dutch and German heritage

The private procedure has cost the women an estimated £25,000, which includes buying sperm from an anonymous donor – an American man with Dutch and German heritage

Since he donated at a British clinic, under UK law the boys will have the right to know his identity when they turn 18, something Emily and Kerry welcome

Since he donated at a British clinic, under UK law the boys will have the right to know his identity when they turn 18, something Emily and Kerry welcome

Today, the couple’s most pressing problem is the fact that they’ll soon have two newborns in the pretty, all-white, double nursery they have prepared at the Victorian home in Gosport, Hampshire, that they share with their retired greyhound, Dotty.

So far, they have only agreed on their firstborn’s name. They are also wondering what to call themselves, since only one of them can be ‘Mummy’.

‘Maybe it’ll be Mummy and Mum, or perhaps Mummy and Mama,’ says Emily.

Their house, they say, looks like a laundry, as piles of secondhand baby grows rise with each wash. It also looks like a DIY store as a double pram, twin cots and a pair of capsule car seats lie around – in varying states of assembly.

In short, they are as excited and as anxious as any other first-time parents, while acknowledging that the imminent birth of their sons will be hailed as a landmark development in the history of IVF. Neither Emily nor Kerry has ever struggled with their sexuality. Emily knew she was gay in her mid-teens and came out to her supportive parents when she was 16. Kerry was at university to train as a teacher when she realised she was a lesbian and came out to her equally accepting family.

They first connected in January 2017 on the dating site Tinder. Emily was working in New Zealand having been there for a decade and Kerry was visiting.

Though in the same country, they were too far apart to meet in person but began an old-fashioned, long-distance courtship, corresponding for four months before they finally met. The first meeting included Emily down on one knee holding a sweetie in the shape of a ring and Kerry clutching a bottle of champagne.

They have been together ever since, travelling extensively around South East Asia and New Zealand before settling in Gosport a year ago. Now their extraordinary shared pregnancies have put the seal on a love story six years in the making.

Their house, they say, looks like a laundry, as piles of secondhand baby grows rise with each wash

Their house, they say, looks like a laundry, as piles of secondhand baby grows rise with each wash

It also looks like a DIY store as a double pram, twin cots and a pair of capsule car seats lie around ¿ in varying states of assembly

It also looks like a DIY store as a double pram, twin cots and a pair of capsule car seats lie around – in varying states of assembly

So far, they have only agreed on their firstborn¿s name. They are also wondering what to call themselves, since only one of them can be ¿Mummy¿

So far, they have only agreed on their firstborn’s name. They are also wondering what to call themselves, since only one of them can be ‘Mummy’

‘We were actually as good as married in the space of two weeks,’ says Kerry and they both laugh and roll their eyes. ‘It snowballed fast,’ agrees Emily.

Kerry was always the more maternal of the two – she knew she wanted children, whereas Emily hadn’t considered it before they got together. Discussing their future in the long hours of lockdown, they settled on the idea of creating a family in which they could be both biological and gestational mothers.

Kerry says: ‘There was no great ceremony, it was a Thursday night and we started swiping through sperm banks. The problem is that once you start, you can’t stop, there is so much choice. We chose a man about our own age who had two children and was donating for altruistic reasons – there were people in his family struggling with infertility and he wanted to help others.’

The couple were able to inspect his handwriting, as well as a picture of him aged about eight, and listened to a recording of his voice.

‘We know what he does for a living, his hobbies, his likes and dislikes, and his family history back to his grandfather’s generation,’ says Kerry. ‘We even know he has long limbs and high cheekbones!

‘In short, we know enough to be able to tell our sons what traits they have inherited from their father.’

Making the final selection was, Kerry admits, ‘incredibly hard’.

‘You are not doing it for yourself,’ she explains, ‘you are doing it for your children and their future. We wanted a donor who looked a little like both of us – but his health was our greatest concern.’

In short, they are as excited and as anxious as any other first-time parents, while acknowledging that the imminent birth of their sons will be hailed as a landmark development in the history of IVF

In short, they are as excited and as anxious as any other first-time parents, while acknowledging that the imminent birth of their sons will be hailed as a landmark development in the history of IVF

They first connected in January 2017 on the dating site Tinder. Emily was working in New Zealand having been there for a decade and Kerry was visiting. Pictured: In Queenstown, New Zealand

They first connected in January 2017 on the dating site Tinder. Emily was working in New Zealand having been there for a decade and Kerry was visiting. Pictured: In Queenstown, New Zealand

Though in the same country, they were too far apart to meet in person but began an old-fashioned, long-distance courtship, corresponding for four months before they finally met

Though in the same country, they were too far apart to meet in person but began an old-fashioned, long-distance courtship, corresponding for four months before they finally met

The whole process of fertilisation and implantation was conducted according to the rules of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the UK’s independent regulator.

It means that, aged 16, Emily and Kerry’s sons will be entitled to see their father’s full profile, and then at 18, they can ask for his name, date and location of birth, and his most recent address, enabling them to make contact if they wish. The donor has made it clear he is happy for this to happen. Emily and Kerry began IVF in September 2021, undergoing a baseline scan to check their ovaries, and ensuring they met their clinic’s age and Body Mass Index (BMI) criteria. In July last year, after having daily injections for a fortnight to stimulate their ovaries, they had their eggs collected at the same time.

Emily produced 15 eggs and Kerry 14. All were fertilised using their donor’s frozen sperm, resulting in five embryos for Emily and seven for Kerry.

The women had each other’s embryo transferred into their wombs in April but while Emily became pregnant with Kerry’s embryo, Kerry did not. It briefly derailed their plan.

‘It was bittersweet for me,’ admits Kerry, ‘but I wasn’t devastated. How could I be? My baby was growing inside Emily.’

The couple had been realistic about the chances of failure for one or both of them – in fact they’d only done a joint pregnancy test because it was a Bank Holiday and they wanted to go for a beer.

‘Most people get pregnant on a night out – but it’s not like that for a lesbian couple,’ says Emily.

Eight weeks later however, following a second implant, Kerry too had a positive pregnancy test.

The whole process of fertilisation and implantation was conducted according to the rules of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the UK¿s independent regulator

The whole process of fertilisation and implantation was conducted according to the rules of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the UK’s independent regulator

They have travelled extensively around South East Asia and New Zealand before settling in Gosport a year ago. Now their extraordinary shared pregnancies have put the seal on a love story six years in the making

They have travelled extensively around South East Asia and New Zealand before settling in Gosport a year ago. Now their extraordinary shared pregnancies have put the seal on a love story six years in the making

‘That was when we cried with happiness,’ they say.

Emily adds: ‘We knew we would never regret doing it this way. If we had gone with the cheaper, more straightforward option of carrying our own babies then there could always have been a moment when we wondered “what if”. In contrast, this is exactly what we’d hoped for.’

Since then, while Kerry has breezed through her pregnancy, Emily has suffered sickness and dizziness. ‘In the early stages I was passing out, I have carpal tunnel syndrome in my wrists and my feet are the size of Shrek’s,’ she says.

‘Naturally I have told Kerry I should have kept my own baby because he seems much more chilled,’ jokes Emily.

‘Yes, I’m glad she’s got mine,’ adds Kerry.

They had a ‘gender reveal’ party in October where Emily’s sister found out the sexes and filled two water pistols, one for each mother-to-be. It wasn’t until both Emily and Kerry were dripping with blue water after squirting one-another that they realised they were both having sons. Fittingly, both women hope to have water births.

They accept that some people may not approve of what they are doing but they believe the strength of their relationship – and the security of the home they are preparing for their children – will silence any criticism. Emily says: ‘We are waiting for a negative response, there is still homophobia out there, but we are confident we can handle it.

‘We’re doing this for ourselves, and if we become some kind of role model for others we’ll be happy about that too. IVF has been a taboo subject but it shouldn’t be and we hope we can become part of that conversation.’

Emily and Kerry began IVF in September 2021, undergoing a baseline scan to check their ovaries, and ensuring they met their clinic¿s age and Body Mass Index (BMI) criteria

Emily and Kerry began IVF in September 2021, undergoing a baseline scan to check their ovaries, and ensuring they met their clinic’s age and Body Mass Index (BMI) criteria

As new mothers, the couple hope to resume their exploration of the British Isles in the 15-seater minibus they have converted into a camper van

As new mothers, the couple hope to resume their exploration of the British Isles in the 15-seater minibus they have converted into a camper van

They do not anticipate any further legal formalities. Kerry says: ‘We signed consent forms at every step of the way – this is not the same as an adoption or a surrogacy. Both of our names will appear on the birth certificate as parents for both boys and the embryos that we still have in storage are ours, not mine or Kerry’s.’

As for the remaining embryos, they will be donating them to medical research once they are certain they don’t want to have any more children. Kerry says: ‘We are only able to have our family because someone somewhere helped with that in the past. We are so grateful, so it feels like the right thing for us to be altruistic now.’

As new mothers, the couple hope to resume their exploration of the British Isles in the 15-seater minibus they have converted into a camper van. They’d also like to get married, having put their wedding plans on ice to focus on having babies. Both women wear promise rings, although Emily’s fingers are now so swollen she has had to take hers off. Later this year, they’re taking their sons to New Zealand, to celebrate in the country where they first met.

‘People are scared of stepping out of their comfort zone with children – but we’ve had to do things a bit differently so far and we won’t be stopping now,’ says Emily. ‘It’s going to be so lovely to see each other as mothers, to be a family at last.’

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