Renee and Anna McInarnay both welcomed baby girls just two days apart after the Mississippi couple became pregnant at the same time
Renee and Anna McInarnay both welcomed baby girls just two days apart after the Mississippi couple became pregnant at the same time through intrauterine insemination (IUI).
On Oct. 13, Renee, 36, gave birth to the couple’s first child, Emma Reese McInarnay, in a Hattiesburg hospital. Two days later, on Oct. 15, she and Emma sat with Anna in her hospital room as she gave birth to their second child, Avonlea Grace McInarnay.
“I held my breath until Avonlea was born,” Renee tells PEOPLE. “I was so thankful and so in love with Emma when she came — Anna and I both were. She was really our rock when Anna was giving birth. I kept holding Emma up and she was our champion. Until I heard Avonlea cry for the first time, I couldn’t really let go. Then there was this relief of having our family safe.”
Renee and Anna, 35, made headlines in recent weeks after the same-sex couple became pregnant with their little girls at the same time.
Now, the new parents say having two newborns at their Hattiesburg home has flipped their lives upside down.
“It’s been really overwhelming trying to get the girls on some type of schedule. But we’re doing really well because our moms are here to help,” Anna tells PEOPLE. “We’ve had a really sweet time together. Babies are magic.”
Renee and Anna met in Mississippi as teens and got married last year. The women knew they wanted a family, so they traveled to Audubon Fertility in New Orleans where they both planned to be inseminated.
Renee was hesitant when doctors at the facility told her she may not be able to get pregnant due to a hormonal disorder, polycystic ovary syndrome, but the women decided that they’d both go through the process and hope for the best.
“On the ride home after they told me, I looked down at my body and I said, ‘Challenge accepted!’ ” Renee recalls. “We were trying to be as optimistic as we could be.”
Facility staff called the couple in January with the news they never expected to hear.
“They said, ‘Anna, you’re gonna wanna sit down’ — because I’m the more excitable one,” Anna recalls to PEOPLE. “They said, ‘Anna you’re pregnant and so is Renee.’ I’ll just never forget it. We screamed and jumped up and down and we were hooting and hollering. We just hugged each other and cried.”
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Over the next nine months, the women relied heavily on each other, going through “weird food cravings” and helping each other off the couch. One day, the love birds decided to share their maternity photos, which quickly caught the attention of social media users everywhere.
The couple never expected their story to go viral, Renee says, and they were even fearful about making their pregnancy journey public.
“We really hesitated at first because we didn’t want to deal with the inevitable trolling and disparaging comments that would be made about a same-sex couple,” Renee tells PEOPLE. “Then we thought, ‘You know, it would probably be really good and powerful.’ “
Their story quickly made headlines and Renee says the response has mostly been positive. But not even that can compare to the joy of having their new babies.
“Avonlea, we call her Avi, she is our very nosey, very alert, baby. She loves for people to look at her and talk with her or play music or sing over her. She’s going to be our conversationalist, for sure. She’s already a little people person,” Anna gushes.
“Emma is our calmer baby. She loves to just snuggle up and, if you’re holding her, loves to go to sleep. We love her facial expressions because they are very serious and very intentional. We have loved getting to know their little personalities. They’re very sweet and funny together. They’re like two little old ladies.”