Just when we thought we’d reached peak gorgeous birth photos, a new one comes along to remind us what love is.
On Monday, Florida photographer Melissa Benzel shared pics from a photoshoot that took the internet’s breath away. In the most stunning photo, new moms Jaclyn and Kelly Pfeiffer look into each other eyes while breastfeeding their newborn twins, who are nestled between them.
Their story is as remarkable as the photo: Kelly carried the twins, but one is biologically Jaclyn’s. After years of failed IVF for Jaclyn, the pair made one last attempt with Kelly, Benzel told HuffPost Canada.
As a surprise for Jaclyn, Kelly used one of her eggs and one of Jaclyn’s. Both embryos took. Kelly gave birth to their twins (who are technically half-siblings) in May.
Is it dusty in here?
WATCH: How same-sex couples are co-breastfeeding. Story continues below.
Thanks to hormone medication and “pumping around the clock,” Jaclyn was able to breastfeed, too, Benzel explained. In fact, she was able to breastfeed moments after the birth, so Benzel knew she wanted to document both moms nursing the babies in the lifestyle shoot.
“The images of them breastfeeding are incredibly special and heartwarming, not only do they truly show the love they have for each other but that breastfeeding is possible for a non-carrier mom,” Benzel said.
“They are overjoyed by the amount of love this is getting and I am thrilled and honoured I was there to capture such an emotional and important moment in their journey,” Benzel said.
But their journey hasn’t been an easy one.
A few months after they started dating, they made headlines for being fired from the Methodist daycare where they both worked because they were gay. They decided to take a public stand, but it came at a cost.
“Most people plan for a long time about how to come out and who is safe to come out to. We had a few short hours to prepare to come out to thousands — if not millions — of people at once. This included our families, our friends, and the rest of the United States. No big deal, right?” the two wrote in a post on their blog Rainbows and Babies.
They married in 2016, but then, nearly three years of infertility followed.
“It’s a strange thing to prepare a place in your heart for a baby that never comes. For almost three years, every month ended the same – with negative tests, broken hearts, and empty arms. We spent every penny we had trying to bring a baby home with nothing to show for our investment, and the more money we spent, the more it felt like our dream would never be a reality,” Kelly wrote in Love What Matters.
So, after they made the difficult decision that they’d try with Kelly instead of Jaclyn, Kelly decided to surprise Jaclyn. She made arrangements with the fertility clinic to transfer Jaclyn’s embryo, a boy, as well as Kelly’s embryo, a girl.
Kelly had a positive pregnancy test just a few days after the transfer, she wrote. A few weeks later, an ultrasound confirmed both embryos had implanted.
Jackson and Ella were born May 14, Romper reports.
“After years of trying, waiting, heartbreak, patience, and so much love, they finally have their little ones here!” Benzel wrote on Facebook.
Jaclyn worked hard to induce lactation so she could breastfeed, as well.
Co-breastfeeding between lesbian couples is not uncommon, and allows both parents to share the responsibility and experience.
“When you have two babies and two moms, what’s better than two sets of boobs to feed them with?” the couple wrote on Rainbows and Babies.
To induce lactation, the non-birth parent follows a protocol that typically involves hormones, the medication domperidone (which increases milk production), and pumping. Jaclyn started taking birth control pills after Kelly’s embryo transfer, then added doses of domperidone, and started pumping (as often as five times a day), Kelly explained.
The protocol can also be used by adoptive parents, moms who have babies via surrogacy, and trans parents. In 2018, a transgender woman who was able to produce breast milk with the help of hormone treatments became the first in medical literature to be able to breastfeed her baby.
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