Chicago woman is carrying her identical twin sister’s baby


A pair of identical twins from Chicago have opened up about what it’s like for one to serve as a pregnancy surrogate for the other. 

Courtney Essenpreis, 36, already had two children of her own — so when her twin Amy Fuggiti struggled to get pregnant after years of IVF, she stepped up to offer her womb to her sister.

Now Courtney is due to give birth to her niece in October, while Amy and her husband Anthony, 38, join her in the delivery room.

Twin bond: Courtney Essenpreis, 36, is currently serving as a surrogate for her twin sister, Amy Fuggiti

'When I say, "We’re pregnant," I mean myself, my husband and my sister,' Amy said. 'It’s a beautiful celebration of life, because all three of us did this together'

‘When I say, “We’re pregnant,” I mean myself, my husband and my sister,’ Amy said. ‘It’s a beautiful celebration of life, because all three of us did this together’

Both Amy and Courtney always knew that having children would be a bit trickier for them.

Speaking on the podcast Pregnantish this week, they explained that they were both born with a chromosomal disorder called Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome, a condition that mainly affects the eye but can also impact facial features, teeth, skin, and the heart. 

The twins were both born with umbilical hernias, and at age 12 they were diagnosed with glaucoma. 

Because there is a 50 per cent chance that any child they had would inherit the condition, they were prepared to go through additional medical steps to get pregnant — specifically, IVF paired pre-implantation genetic testing, which would reduce the risk of passing on the disorder.

Courtney managed to have two children this way, and Amy was told by a doctor that she’d be pregnant in six months — but that wasn’t the case. 

‘Six months came, six months went. Another six months came, another six months went, and six years later, here we are,’ Amy said. 

‘There were so many opportunities for things to go wrong. It was disappointment after disappointment,’ she added to the New York Post

Struggle: Amy was told by a doctor that she'd be pregnant in six months — but that wasn't the case, and she went through years of unsuccessful IVF

Struggle: Amy was told by a doctor that she’d be pregnant in six months — but that wasn’t the case, and she went through years of unsuccessful IVF

A little help: Courtney, who has two kids of her own, stepped in to lend her womb

A little help: Courtney, who has two kids of her own, stepped in to lend her womb

'I didn’t even have to ask her to be our surrogate,' Amy concurred. 'We’re so intrinsically tied, it felt like something that was supposed to happen'

‘I didn’t even have to ask her to be our surrogate,’ Amy concurred. ‘We’re so intrinsically tied, it felt like something that was supposed to happen’

While Amy struggled to get pregnant, her sister was there every step of the way. 

‘We basically clung to each other. Throughout our life we’ve been in everything together, we’ve done everything together,’ she said, citing the ‘unspoken magic’ of their twin bond.

Finally, the pair decided that Courtney would be Amy’s surrogate.  

‘For me it was just obvious, there was no need to say, “Hey, would you like to borrow my uterus?”‘ Courtney said. ‘It was the natural progression.’ 

‘I didn’t even have to ask her to be our surrogate,’ Amy concurred. ‘We’re so intrinsically tied, it felt like something that was supposed to happen.’ 

Last July, Amy and her husband created what they call their ‘golden embryo,’ and in February of this year, Amy was there holding Courtney’s hand as it was implanted in her uterus.  

Though they didn’t want to get their hopes up, they were thrilled with it was successful.

‘When I say “We’re pregnant,” I mean myself, my husband and my sister,’ Amy said. ‘It’s a beautiful celebration of life, because all three of us did this together.’ 

Excited: Courtney said she feels lucky to be able to help her sister

Excited: Courtney said she feels lucky to be able to help her sister

Trio: Courtney is due to give birth to her niece in October, while Amy and her husband Anthony, 38, (pictured) join her in the delivery room

Trio: Courtney is due to give birth to her niece in October, while Amy and her husband Anthony, 38, (pictured) join her in the delivery room

'There’s nobody I would rather do this with,' said Amy. 'If I couldn’t have my own pregnancy, who better than my soul mate to make my dream come true?'

‘There’s nobody I would rather do this with,’ said Amy. ‘If I couldn’t have my own pregnancy, who better than my soul mate to make my dream come true?’

‘I’m just so excited,’ Courtney added. ‘A lot of people say, “It’s such a nice thing to do, she’s so lucky.” But I’m actually the one who’s lucky. I’m the one who gets to help with this situation and bring baby girl Fuggiti into this world. 

‘And it’s exciting and special, and it just makes me feel closer to Amy and closer to this baby.’  

The pair have documented their journey on Instagram, and Amy said that they ‘always joke that the baby can hear us gossiping all the time.’    

While the little girl will certainly have a unique origin story, the twins don’t think it’s so strange. 

‘It’s been totally normal,’ said Courtney. ‘The fact I’m pregnant with my sister’s baby feels entirely normal. It’s a means of getting from point A to B without much fanfare.’ 

They also plan for both Amy and Anthony to be in the delivery room for the birth.

‘There’s nobody I would rather do this with,’ said Amy. ‘If I couldn’t have my own pregnancy, who better than my soul mate to make my dream come true?’ 

‘[Courtney]’s been there for me throughout this entire thing, and I couldn’t ask for a better second partner in this,’ she added. 





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