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Karina and Kelly's pregnancy announcement (PA Real Life/Collect)

A career woman who married her female best friend – before they fell pregnant “in tandem" using a £72 (~$90) home insemination kit and a sperm donor found online – describes their babies as “almost twins," as they were born three days apart.

Inseparable after meeting at school in Venezuela, South America, Karina Rincon, 31, and Kelly Mesa, 32, then moved to the US after graduating – living all around the country separately, before connecting in Miami, Florida, when they settled there in 2013.

Both successful biomedical engineers, until then they had only dated men, but after confessing their true feelings, they became a couple and married in September 2017, when their thoughts turned to starting a family.

Priced out of expensive IVF clinics, they bought a £72 home artificial insemination kit, before finding a sperm donor online and doubling their chances of having a baby by both trying – never thinking they would each fall pregnant on their first attempt.

Now living as a family of four in Los Angeles, California, after Kelly gave birth to baby Leo on July 7, 2019, and her wife to his sister Sophie just three days later, Karina said:

“I'm really glad we didn't go into labor at the same time."
“That was a worry of ours, but thankfully, being three days apart meant that I could be there when Leo was born and Kelly could when Sophie was."

Karina and Kelly when they were younger (PA Real Life/Collect)

She continued:

“People told us that we would kill each other being two pregnant women in the same house, with all those hormones flying around but, actually, it was great to go through this with the love of my life, who completely understood how I was feeling."

Likewise, things could not have turned out better for Kelly.

She said:

“We are so in love with our babies. People always ask if they're twins and we joke, 'Almost!'"

Karina (L) and Kelly (R) at a friend's wedding (PA Real Life/Collect)

When the couple first met in secondary school, their friendship was purely platonic and they never dreamed they would fall in love.

Sharing confidences about everything, including dating, back then they were positive they were exclusively attracted to men.

After graduating, they moved to the US and remained the best of friends – only their feelings developed and they realized they were no longer platonic.

Karina said:

“Whenever I'd hear Kelly talking about boyfriends, I'd feel almost jealous and started to realize that it was because I had romantic feelings for her."
“She moved around a lot but, eventually, we found ourselves in the same city when we both moved to Miami. I was so nervous, as I had no idea how she would take it, but I had to tell her how I felt. Thankfully, she felt the same."

For the first few years of their relationship, Kelly and Karina kept their love secret from their families – eventually coming out in 2017, just before marrying.

Karina and Kelly when they were younger (PA Real Life/Collect)

Karina added:

“Not all of our loved ones approved. Coming out as a process is very hard. You have to come out to yourself first, accept who you are and understand that you aren't doing anything wrong."
“As I'd only ever dated men before Kelly, some people thought it was a phase, but it wasn't."
“Part of why we wanted to get married was to formalize our relationship and show the world that we were serious about one another."

Karina and Kelly when they were younger (PA Real Life/Collect)

On September 16, 2017, Kelly and Karina tied the knot in Spokane, Washington – where they were living at the time – in an intimate ceremony with 20 guests, after which their thoughts turned to starting a family.

“Growing up, I hadn't thought I wanted children," Kelly explained. “I wanted to focus on my career and studying instead."

“But Karina changed all that. She has always wanted to be a mother, and I knew she'd make a fantastic one. My love for her changed my mind."

Kelly (L) and Karina (R) on their babymoon (PA Real Life/Collect)

She continued:

“We got a few questions from people about how we were going to start a family, which I thought was very closed-minded. There are tons of ways to become parents."

Together, the pair began to research their options, but soon found themselves priced out by expensive IVF clinics and sperm banks.

Then, in early 2018, they discovered a company online that offered at-home artificial insemination kits for just $89 (£72).

Kelly said:

“Some of the clinics we looked at would have cost thousands and thousands – and that was just to find the donor. Then, there'd be all the costs of insemination, medication, doctors' appointments and so on."
“The awkwardness of it all was also a component. Being able to be at home with a DIY kit seemed less invasive."

One thing that was of the utmost importance to the couple was knowing as much as possible about their sperm donor – information that would have been hugely costly if they had used a private clinic.

Karina and Kelly on their wedding day (PA Real Life/Tasha Gordon Oliver Scarlett Photography)

Instead, they found an online network called CoParents.com, which matches couples looking to start a family with potential donors.

As registration on the site is free – though users do also have the option of paying for members-only access – it helped get around the issue of budget.

Setting up a profile, Kelly and Karina explained who they were and what they needed – and soon saw the messages flooding in.

Karina and Kelly on their wedding day (PA Real Life/Tasha Gordon Oliver Scarlett Photography)

Karina said:

“Across the course of three months, we filtered the responses down to around 15 which we liked the sound of."
“Then we got to know them, sending questionnaires about their family history and genetics, and also what their motivation for wanting to help was."
“We wanted somebody truly altruistic, but unfortunately not everybody out there is genuine."

Karina and Kelly on their wedding day (PA Real Life/Tasha Gordon Oliver Scarlett Photography)

She continued:

“We narrowed it further and further down until there were just two donors. We would joke that it was like the reality show 'The Bachelor'."

Kelly and Karina then met the remaining two potential donors in person – neither of whom asked for money – before settling on their final decision in October 2018.

After all three parties took part in genetic screening – the results of which did not bring up anything of concern – it was time to start trying.

Around the same time, Kelly landed a new job in Los Angeles, California, so both women decided to try and fall pregnant using the kit – hoping this would give them the best chance possible before they left Washington, and the sperm donor they had worked so hard to find, behind them.

Karina went first, followed by Kelly the next day, never imagining that both attempts would be successful.

Shortly afterwards, Karina went for a blood test, arranged as part of a “health MOT" just before they moved.

“The results seemed to show that I wasn't pregnant, so we thought, 'That's okay. Let's just wait and see what happens with Kelly,'" she said.

“Days later, in our tiny new apartment in Los Angeles, we got a test for Kelly to take. Two lines appeared, but they were so faint that we didn't know what they meant."

“I said to her, 'My blood test has shown I'm not pregnant, so why don't I take a test, too, as a control?'"

Positive pregnancy tests and scans of the babies (PA Real Life/Collect)

She continued:

“But when I did, mine looked the same – two little lines."

For clarification, Kelly and Karina sent a photo of the tests to a nurse friend – who replied saying she thought they were both pregnant.

Karina added:

“We took some more tests which confirmed it. We were both expecting, and around four weeks along."

Karina (R) and Kelly (L) while pregnant (PA Real Life/Collect)

She continued:

“We couldn't believe it – what were the chances?"
“The reason my blood test hadn't shown anything was because it was too early, so the levels of hormones in my body weren't high enough."

Gobsmacked that they had both been successful on their first attempt, Kelly and Karina then navigated the next nine months of pregnancy together.

Karina and Kelly's pregnancy announcement (PA Real Life/Collect)

Karina added:

“We both understood how the other was feeling. It was nothing like it would have been if we'd had babies with men, where one of us wouldn't be facing the limitations and challenges of pregnancy."
“The only difficult thing was sharing a bed with two ginormous bellies and both of us wanting to pee every five minutes."

As their due dates neared, the couple threw a gender reveal party, which showed one was having a girl and the other a boy – but they decided not to tell loved ones which was which.

Kelly laughed:

“People were putting bets on – but quite a lot of them got it wrong."

In the end, the couple's baby boy Leo arrived first, weighing 6lb 12oz, with Kelly giving birth on July 7, 2019.

She recalled:

“Lots of staff at the hospital initially thought Karina was just my friend who happened to be pregnant at the same time."

Kelly, pictured here in the hospital just before she had baby Leo, with her wife Karina (PA Real Life/Collect)

She continued:

“They couldn't believe it when I told them, 'She's my wife, and she's due any day, too.'"
“The delivery was actually fairly quick and I was so grateful Karina could be there with me in the room. She was ready to pop by then, so nurses kept telling her to go home and rest, but she wanted to be by my side."

Just three days later, Kelly returned the favor when Karina went into labor, welcoming little 7lb 11oz Sophie into the world.

Kelly (L) after having Leo, pictured here with her wife Karina (PA Real Life/Collect)

Now, the pair are enjoying their life as a family of four and say they are utterly in love with their children.

By sharing their extraordinary love story, they want to give hope to other couples for whom traditional conception is not an option, and raise awareness of the many different paths to parenthood.

Kelly concluded:

“My advice to other couples would be to be systematic. Think about what you want, and what will and won't work for you."

Karina, Kelly and their babies, Leo and Sophie (PA Real Life/Collect)

Karina realizes luck was on their side, but says other couples should not give up.

She added:

“My advice is to be patient. I still can't quite believe the way things all happened for us, but don't give up hope."