Kelly and Jaclyn Pfeiffer got married on October 28, 2016. Nearly, three years later, the two women are expecting twins, an event captured beautifully by Florida photographer Melissa Benzel.
Kelly and Jaci’s journey has not been easy. The two women, who worked as teachers at the Aloma Methodist Early Childhood Learning Center in Orange County, were fired after the center’s director, Barbara Twachtman, discovered the women were in a relationship. After suing for discrimination, the case was settled out of court for $28,000 and letters of recommendation for future employment.
Now, Kelly, who has three boys, Aidan, 13, Owen, 12, and Ethan, 10, from a previous relationship, is pregnant with twins, one who is biologically hers and one who is biologically Jaclyn's, though they both share the same donor. Their experience has been one of struggle but also of overcoming the odds. After three years of being able unable to conceive, the couple finally got pregnant. “And honestly, it couldn’t be more perfect,” Kelly says.
The couple began dating two years before getting married. Though they had been friends for a while, neither was looking for a relationship. Before being officially out to family and friends, they were fired from their jobs. “We were told we couldn’t be in a leadership role in the church while we were living a life of sin,” Kelly says.
Even though the experience was traumatic and made headlines, Kelly says they met “so many amazing people through a horrible situation, and what could have broken us ended up making us stronger.” After finding new jobs and moving in together, Jaclyn became a mother to Kelly’s three boys. “We talked a lot about the future and about someday having kids together,” Kelly says.
After doing some research, they chose a donor and decided that Jaclyn would attempt to carry the child. Yet after almost three years of countless IVF consultations and treatments, they found themselves broken financially and emotionally. “As hard as it was for me to get my hopes up every month only to have them come crashing down, it was harder to watch the pain that infertility caused Jaci. I love my wife more than anything in the world, and it killed me to watch her walk around with a baby-shaped hole in her heart,” Kelly says.
Jaclyn, who works as a special education teacher, has a passion for children. “She would go to work every day and love every single one of those children as if they were her own, then come home every night and cry because they weren’t. With every failed cycle, we both struggled with the realization that this could be the end of our journey,” Kelly says.
Eventually, Jaclyn became resigned to the idea that she would not get pregnant, and Kelly stepped in. After consulting with doctors, Kelly decided to transfer two embryos, a female embryo and a male embryo. On September 24, 2018, four days after the embryos were transferred, Jaclyn convinced Kelly to take a pregnancy test. It was positive. “Neither of us had any words in that moment. We sat together on the bed and just held each other. There were no tears. There were no words. The moment was bigger than anything we could have said or done, and it was equal parts exciting and terrifying,” Kelly says.
On October 6, the couple had their first ultrasound, which confirmed Kelly was expecting twins. Nine days later, they heard their twins’ heartbeats for the first time. “We couldn’t see it at the time, but our entire journey led us to this. These babies are coming into our lives in the perfect way at the perfect time, and we are so thankful for the chance to be their Mom and Mommy. We love them so much already,” Kelly says.
Kelly says her advice for same-sex couples trying to conceive is to do their research and know their options. “There are ways for you to both be involved and both feel like the “real” mom. Believe it or not, people often ask which one is the real mom. We often refer to them as twin-blings because they’re twin half-siblings,” sharing a single donor, she adds.
“I would also tell same-sex couple - or really anyone struggling with infertility - don’t give up, your rainbow is coming,” Kelly says, adding that the struggle has been worth it. “We hope they’ll grow up knowing how wanted they are, how loved they are, and how much we went through to get them here. And the boys can’t wait! They’ve been excited since they found out, and we’re excited to see them all in the big-brother roll,” she adds.