Typically, when we think of in vitro fertilization, we imagine one sperm sample that gets implanted into an egg, but for two dads from London, they are thanking modern medicine for allowing them both the opportunity to be the genetic parents of their babies — at the same time. Fathers Simon and Graeme Berney-Edwards were stunned when doctors told them that they didn’t have to choose between the two of them as to who would get to become a father first and helped them to conceive miracle twins. Both men were able to fertilize donor embryos and implant them into the same surrogate’s womb at the same time. Now, they’re sharing their story with the world to show how advancements in fertility medicine have changed their lives.
Simon and Graeme knew that they wanted to have children together, but it wasn’t as easy as they’d hoped in England.
According to the Daily Mail, couple Simon and Graeme began investigating the process of surrogacy in their home country, England. But they quickly discovered there were many barriers to their dream.
In the United Kingdom, it can take up to six months to get a parental order to change the baby’s parent from the birth mother to someone else after she delivers. That would pose a problem for a couple who were hoping to use a donor egg and a surrogate to have their child. Simon and Graeme decided to explore their options so they would legally be the parents on their child’s birth certificate from the get-go and in the meantime, expanded their search for a surrogate to Canada. That’s when they found Meg Stone, a mother of two who would change their lives.
“I saw Simon and Graeme’s profile on a surrogacy website and I thought they had lovely smiles,” Meg told reporters. The mom already has a 12-year-old, Jeffrey, and a 5-year-old, Max. She said that at the time, she agreed to be a surrogate for the couple because, “I had recently split with my partner and I wasn’t ready for another baby, so I wanted to help someone,” she said.
Once Meg was on board, the couple quickly accepted that their child wasn’t going to be born in the UK.
Now that Meg was officially their surrogate, the men decided to use an anonymous egg donor to complete their plan. The men flew out to a fertility clinic in Los Angeles to start the process. At first they believed that only one of their sperm samples was allowed to be used to fertilize the donor eggs. “We couldn’t decide on who would be the biological father. Graeme said it should be me, but I said that he had just as much right as I did,” Simon remembered.
But their doctor in LA surprised them with an answer that thrilled both dads-to-be. “When we spoke to the doctor at the clinic, he stunned us with his reply. He told us that it could be both of us,” Simon said. “They said that we could have half the embryos fertilized with my sperm and then half with Graeme’s sperm.”
The practice of allowing different fathers to fertilize two embryos that can then be implanted into a surrogate is not allowed in the UK, which makes this all the more special that both men would get to be a dad.
To complete their family, the two men got married and decided that they would make the first meeting with their surrogate in Canada their official honeymoon.
“We were nervous at the beginning — in case that we didn’t click with her. But we needn’t have worried,” said Simon. “Meeting Meg was like being reunited with a long-lost sister. She wrapped us both in a hug before introducing us to her adorable boys. We didn’t how to thank her. We told her we were so grateful to her — she was changing not only our lives but our families too,” he said.
The men left Canada feeling as if their future children were in good hands. And only six months later, one fertilized embryo from Simon and one from Graeme were inserted into Meg’s womb, but things weren’t exactly smooth sailing from there on out.
They had to worry that the IVF would take, a two-week process where the couple had to sweat out the fear that they would end up with no viable embryos and have to start all over again. There was also a risk that only one of the embryos would take — which would mean that only one of them would be a dad.
But the couple was determined not to let that happen. “We talked about it and decided that if it happened, we would just go back and have another go again, so that we would end up fathering one baby each,” Simon said. At the end of two weeks, Meg called the couple and told them that she was officially pregnant, but they wouldn’t know if both embryos took until she received a scan a few weeks later.
“[Meg] FaceTimed us from the scanning room. First of all, we saw one heartbeat, and our stomach clenched with nerves,” Simon described. “Then we saw the other heartbeat. Graeme and I just hugged each other. We were just over the moon. We were both going to be dads — she was pregnant with both of our babies.”
The couple kept in touch with Meg throughout her pregnancy and traveled to Canada to be with her for her 19-week scan.
At the scan, their surrogate gave the dads an incredible moment that made everything so much more real. “We put our hands on her bump and felt our babies kicking. It was a magical moment,” recalled Simon. She also arranged for a meaningful Christmas present for Simon and Graeme. She hired a photographer to do a special photo shoot with all of them together. “We got to meet her family, too, which was lovely. It was great to see her being a mom to her children. We knew that our babies were in the best possible hands,” Simon added.
There was only one moment that gave the future-dads some pause. In May 2017 at about 31 weeks, Meg sent them a message saying that she was in pain and thought she was in labor. The couple panicked. Their surrogate was five weeks early and without having time to plan for the emergency long-distance trip, they were worried that they wouldn’t make it for the birth of their babies.
“We packed our stuff and caught the first flight out to Canada,” Simon said. “But while we were in the air we couldn’t contact Meg to find out what was happening. The wait was agonizing.” But when they arrived at the hospital they were relieved to discover it was a false alarm. “We were just so relieved that she and the babies were fine,” he continued.
Close enough to their children’s due date, the couple stayed in Canada until finally at 36 weeks Meg was ready to give birth. “Graeme held her hand through it all while her mom and I stood at the other end,” Simon recalled. “It was the most amazing experience of our lives.”
Their daughter, Alexandra, was born first and their son, Calder, arrived only minutes later. “They were both healthy and it was just amazing to meet them at last,” Simon said.
The dads were incredibly thrilled to see that they had actually achieved their dream. “When we both held them for the first time, we couldn’t believe that we were both daddies,” Simon said. “It was a long way to go and do this, but it was worth it to both be able to have fathered one of the twins each.”
Technically, the twins are half-siblings, but Simon explained that they are still classified as twins even though they have different fathers. “Calder was the double of Graeme, and Alexandra was the image of me,” he added.
The new dads had to wait seven weeks before they could fly home with their newborns, but despite the distance, Meg is still part of the family.
Since the family has returned to England, Simon said their kids are doing well and are “hitting all their milestones.” Although, they admit it was sad to say goodbye to their surrogate.
That is why they invited Meg to come and visit the twins on their recent first birthday. “It was incredibly special having her there to celebrate the twins special day with us. It’s hard work having two babies, but Graeme and I are loving every minute of it,” said Simon. He added they still keep in touch with Meg regularly and are still so thankful that she has given them this incredible gift. “It’s amazing to think that she has enabled us both to become daddies,” Simon explained. “It’s a wonderful gift.”
And the feeling is mutual. Meg is just as enamored with Simon and Graeme as they are with her, “[they] are like brothers to me now,” she said. “They call me the twins ‘Tummy Mummy’ which I love.” But the mom really credits the amazing new advances in technology with bringing the dads their special gifts. “It was amazing being pregnant with embryos that they had both fathered — science is an amazing thing,” she said.