For all the long, exhausting days of tantrums and butt wiping and breastfeeding at the park on a 90-degree day, there’s one thing I know to be true about parenthood — kids are a gift. I was blessed with three healthy babies, and I will never take that for granted. And perhaps no one else quite understands how miraculous a gift it is like newlyweds Renee and Anna McInarnay. Both women are expecting babies at the exact same time, and remarkably, they’re both expecting girls.
The couple, who first met as teenage camp counselors in 2001 and wed just last year, both work as teachers and live in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Married, happy, and ready to become parents, Anna and Renee first began the process of conceiving through a fertility clinic.
“We entered into motherhood hesitantly,” Anna tells Babble. “We knew that the laws surrounding adoption for same-sex couples in Mississippi were difficult, so we decided to go into fertility. After reaching out to fertility clinics in our state, we felt the most love and openness from a fertility clinic when we called Audubon Fertility in New Orleans. After initial testing, we were told we could both conceive.”
However, the couple feared that the path wouldn’t be a smooth one for Renee, who has Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Ultimately, both women decided to try to get pregnant using sperm from the same donor, and throw the rest to fate.
Although Anna had three healthy eggs, Renee had only one; but the couple moved forward. It wasn’t too long after that they received the incredible news: Both women were pregnant and due at the exact same time.
“You can’t imagine the joy of that phone call,” Anna tells Babble. “They started by telling us that Anna was pregnant. After that shock settled, they said, ‘But wait … so is Renee.’ That joy; that overwhelming moment where you learn that nothing will ever be the same again … it all felt miraculous and funny at the same time.”
Because the babies were conceived just 15 minutes apart with sperm from the same donor, the girls — who will be named Avonlea Grace and Emma Reese (and nicknamed Avi and Emmy) — are thought of by their moms as “paternal twins.”
They will also be arriving into this world at pretty much the same time, since the couple has chosen to give birth 36 hours apart so they can both be present at the birth of their babies.
If that isn’t a love story, I don’t know what is.
Anna also tells Babble that she and Renee have received tremendous love and support from colleagues, students, and family.
“Parents from students from years past have reached out to us, delighted that we are having children,” she says. “We have so many babysitters already lined up from former students who have volunteered. (Teacher perks!) We work with so many wonderful people who have volunteered to do anything they can to help us and offered up countless mom tips. They gave us such a generous shower at school and have all tried to predict gender, due date, and which mother they will take after. They laugh at the chaos that is coming our way, but then offer their services to rock our sweet babies anytime we need them.”
Their families are just as excited — at the gender reveal party, relatives “jumped with joy as we all screamed and celebrated together. It was such a special moment that we will forever cherish surrounded by our family.”
When asked what they wish others would take away from their story, Anna says, “Hope. It is such a powerful thing, especially now. It is not lost on us how rare our experience is and how long some couples wait to have families of their own. This has deepened our gratitude for this double surprise. We hope our story brings someone else hope.”
So what does the future hold for this family of four? Not much is certain in parenthood, but one thing Anna and Renee can absolutely anticipate is laughter and joy, as that’s what brought them together so many years ago.
“The summer after I lost my father to cancer, I met Renee,” Anna shares with Babble. “She had no clue the loss my family endured, but she made me laugh through the biggest heartbreak. Oh how we laughed together! We still laugh together, and imagine our daughters doing the exact same thing.”
h/t Scary Mommy