It’s easy to see why YouTubers and podcast presenters Rose and Rosie are loved by so many. They're incredibly open and honest with their followers about their lives, their experiences within the LGBTQIA+ community and their same-sex pregnancy journey.
As a married couple, they are a joy to watch, naturally bouncing off one another, sharing smiles and finishing one another's sentences. We caught up with them to talk about all things pregnancy and babies.
‘I don't think we were adamantly against having children,’ muses Rose, turning to Rosie when I asked when they first started thinking about starting a family. ‘We just didn't feel very naturally maternal years ago. And I think we were just so focused on having a career, and we were having so much fun making content for YouTube. It just wasn't on our mind, was it? And then it was one Christmas about two years ago, or maybe 2019. It just felt very empty.’
‘I just think a few things made us realise that work isn't everything and actually, there's more to life and children would be something we'd like to experience,’ agrees Rosie. ‘But it's difficult for two women because you have to talk about it loads and loads. You can't be like, “Oh, if it accidentally happens then we'll let fate take charge!” So we thought about it really seriously.’
A steep learning curve
But finding out more about the journey Rose and Rosie would need to go on turned out to be much more difficult than they had anticipated.
‘There's no one website that says, hey, here's all the stuff and here's what you do step by step,’ Rosie tells me. ‘So I asked my doctor. And I was like, “Hey, if I want to have a baby, where do I go?” And they didn’t know.
And then a nurse said to me at my smear test “Oh, you might want to go to this local fertility clinic.” And I rang them up asking if they did IUI. But the woman on the phone obviously didn't clock that I was in a same-sex relationship and said: “'Well we don't know if you need it!”’
‘So they automatically assume that you've got fertility issues if you're looking for IUI treatments. Rather than just being in the same-sex relationship,’ adds Rose.
‘Ultimately, it was a very difficult process to understand exactly how things work. The interplay between the sperm bank and the fertility clinic for example, isn't one thing,’ Rosie explains ‘You need to purchase your sperm and then you need to ship it. And if it's coming from abroad, each country has different laws about what you can and can't use. So in England, you have to use a non-anonymous donor. But you can go abroad and use an anonymous donor if you want.’
It’s safe to say the process is a complicated one that any of us would struggle to get our head around, one in which Rose and Rosie spent a year looking for ‘their perfect sperm.’
‘We finally found our sperm, we'd already been to this clinic and had all these tests that the clinic do before you go ahead. And then they said, “Oh, we don't accept that sperm bank.” Clinics work with different banks so we had to either ditch our sperm or switch clinic. It was very emotional,’ admits Rosie.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is an expensive process to undertake, something Rose and Rosie are keen to be upfront about with their viewers and followers, sharing details of their experience on their podcast, Rose and Rosie: Parental Guidance.
‘It's extremely expensive to do, buying the sperm and then having to keep the sperm frozen, that costs money. You pay rent on your sperm!’
‘Each insemination, with the sperm, is about £1000 each time so it's quite expensive and you're there hoping it works,’ Rose says.
‘I don't mind talking about things like money and stuff like that, because people need to know how much it's going to cost and what they're in for,’ Rosie adds.
The pregnancy journey
Deciding which of the two of them would carry the baby was a tough decision. ‘We were both really keen to carry naturally. We were like, “right, who goes first? How do we make that decision?”’ says Rose. ‘And I think naturally because I'm two years older than Rosie we thought, well, maybe it would be wise for me to have the first child, whilst my eggs are still kind of like fresh-ish!
We went to a fertility clinic and they told us it was basically the sooner the better. And it was like, “Oh, okay, well, you got me, I'll do it!”’
Sadly, Rose went on to have a miscarriage with the couple’s first baby following successful insemination. ‘I lost my confidence a little bit. I did try a few more times after losing that baby. But then I was like, “You know what, I don't think this is supposed to happen for me right now.” It was a lot to process. And I've got Polycystic Ovary Syndrome which can make carrying a baby full term size slightly more difficult too.
So I said, “Rosie, why don't you have a go?” Because we've only got so much sperm. I was trying to think practically.’
Rosie then went on to become pregnant after several rounds of IUI and is currently in her third trimester. I’m curious if Rose experienced any mixed feelings at the news, following her miscarriage.
‘I think people would naturally assume that it would be quite a bittersweet moment for me. But I was just so excited and so happy that we had a baby on the way that no, it hasn't been remotely kind of like difficult for me,’ Rose says honestly.
‘The hardest thing is that there have been points throughout Rosie's pregnancy, where I've thought, “Oh, I wonder what it would have been like to feel the baby kick.” But then it goes away quickly because I just think, well, I can feel the baby kick because I'm feeling it now!’
Rose acknowledges that she is nervous that the miscarriage may have affected her confidence to carry a baby again.
‘I'm just concerned that I don't know if I'll be able to mentally and emotionally cope with it happening twice. I've done it once and hopefully, we've raised some awareness about miscarriage and what it means, which I think is incredibly important.’
I was thinking about what family means the other day and I thought to myself, would I honestly feel any different if this baby was naturally mine, whether Rosie was carrying my egg or I was carrying naturally? I honestly can say hand on heart, I don't think I would because it takes so much more to be a parent than blood. And this baby is not going to know any different, I'm just gonna be its parent so no, I'm just I'm super excited.’
The final countdown
Other than the burping and wind side effects ('It's like wind is trapped in Rosie's back a lot of the time and I can hear it and it sounds horribly painful!'), so far, the pregnancy is going well, with Rosie waving a bottle of Gavison as she tells me she’s got to the “uncomfortable stage of pregnancy.”
'Everyone always says "Oh, at the end, you just want to get the baby out!" and I'm starting to understand that!'
‘Yeah, you’re over it,’ Rose smiles at her wife. 'But eight weeks to go yet babe!
You can tell how excited Rose and Rosie are to be parents, just by spending time with them, watching their videos or listening to their podcast. They’re also very aware of how the birth might turn out differently from how they’d like.
‘We're doing hypnobirthing with The Positive Birth Company who are amazing. We want a home birth, but we do understand that anything can happen and we’ve just got to go with the flow as long as we safely deliver this baby, that's the most important thing,’ says Rosie.
Rose is however nervous about her role as a birth partner. ‘My biggest fear is that I'll be hopeless. And that I'll just panic and not know what to do and not be supportive and just be an absolute nightmare.'
Rosie is quick to reassure her. ‘It’s just a fear. I think that's because there's a lot of pressure. I’m not worried at all.’
It’s interesting to find out what each mum is looking forward to when the baby arrives. ‘I'm a really affectionate person, and I could just cuddle all day, that could be my full-time job,’ Rosie beams. ‘So I'm quite excited about that. Just cuddling a baby.’
For Rose, however, surprisingly it’s the responsibility she can’t wait for. ‘I just like the idea of being able to teach someone something. In the capacity where you can see them learning, like seeing growth and being excited about the world. Kind of like living again, through really innocent young eyes and just seeing everything new again. It sounds really great.’