Delight for Belfast LGBT couple as Julie-Anne pregnant with twins
Pair use artificial insemination in order to conceive children
She missed out on a seat at Stormont in the election, but a Belfast councillor in a same-sex relationship has got over her disappointment to reveal she is pregnant with twins.
PUP councillor Julie-Anne Corr Johnston (29) and her partner Kerry (28) are celebrating the imminent arrivals following artificial insemination. Although just nine weeks pregnant, her bump is already so prominent that she had to share the news.
The north Belfast councillor took to Facebook yesterday to share her ultrasound picture and said she has been overwhelmed by the positive reaction.
"It's been incredible, social media has exploded with support. We are really overwhelmed by the response which is really nice especially as an LGBT couple," she told the Belfast Telegraph.
"You do panic about what the reaction is going to be like, and you have to confront that reality.
"But it has just been incredible."
With the twins due in September, Julie-Anne said she and Kerry were stunned to get pregnant so quickly.
The couple, who tied the knot in a civil ceremony in 2014, had to save almost £4,000 to go through the intrauterine insemination (IUI) process last December during which Julie-Anne was implanted with semen by GCRM Belfast.
She revealed that while they went into it with an open mind, they did not expect it to work on their first attempt.
They discovered Julie-Anne was pregnant at the start of February and found out it was twins a couple of weeks later.
It came during the election campaign, during which Julie-Anne was running for the PUP, managing her full-time job while canvassing every evening - all while battling morning sickness and exhaustion.
"I used up all of my luck, it was IUI we went through, and the chances of success let alone the chances of twins are very small," she added.
"I always say good things fall apart to make way for better things and maybe this is it, this is my calling.
"Getting elected to the Assembly remains a priority and an ambition."
She added: "It was our first time but obviously it took us a while to save the money up - we don't get it free here in Northern Ireland whereas LGBT couples in England, Scotland and Wales do. We had to pay for it."
Julie-Anne admitted her mum told her off for not waiting until she was 12 weeks pregnant to share the news, but said: "I told her, 'Look at me, how can I not tell people?' I have got a bump that would make you think I am four or five months pregnant."
She says that her main craving is for cheese, but she added that one of the babies seemed to crave it while the other one didn't.
"I'm a vegetarian and Kerry's a vegan so doesn't have dairy. It's almost like there is a vegan and a vegetarian fighting in there because one wants me to have cheese," she laughed.
"The sickness is starting to ease thankfully but the exhaustion isn't.
"Through the campaign, I would be knocking on doors and then having to go back to the car and sit for a while, and being sick in a bag. It was crazy."
The sperm donor remains anonymous both to Julie-Anne and Kerry. Only the twins can attempt to contact him after they turn 18.
Julie-Anne revealed that while she would not go through this process again, she and Kerry would consider adopting a child.
"It was a very easy decision over who would carry the babies. Kerry has always said that she wanted to adopt children and I have always said that I wanted to carry a baby."