The first Miss America to marry a same sex partner shared she is expecting a baby with her wife this September. On an episode of the podcast Pregnantish, Dr. Deidre Downs Gunn revealed that her wife, Abbott Downs, is pregnant via IVF. She is carrying the baby and Downs Gunn, Miss America 2005, and now a reproductive endocrinologist, performed her wife’s embryo transfer.
“It was really special to be able to do that,” the 40-year-old told Pregnantish host Andrea Syrtash. “Obviously, the invasive kind of procedures I wasn’t going to do. An embryo transfer is not all that invasive and obviously since I’m qualified to do it — in terms of being credentialed for the procedure — it was something that (I could do).”
Like many things in the couple’s relationship, it felt meant to be. Downs became pregnant after the first transfer.
“She’s about 26 weeks pregnant and we were very fortunate that she got pregnant with the first transfer and has done well,” Downs Gunn shared on the podcast, adding the couples' medical team supported Downs Gunn's role in the transfer and performed the rest of Downs's care.
Downs Gunn said that growing up in Alabama she never imagined life as an openly gay woman.
“In my formative years, thinking about some of these things, it was not acceptable. It was not really a path that you even thought of,” she said on the podcast. “That’s what took me so long.”
While in her third year of medical school, Downs Gunn married her college boyfriend, and gave birth to her son, now 11. They were married from 2009 to 2015, but they began having problems during her residency and fellowship. Downs Gunn started therapy and soon picked up on an unexpected reason why she might be struggling.
“That was really the first time I maybe reflected and realized that I was gay,” she said on the podcast.
After Downs Gunn first came out, she never anticipated even dating, let alone starting a family with someone.
“I thought the possibility of meeting someone that I would want to spend my life with … in Birmingham, Alabama, was probably unlikely,” she said. “It took me a while before I decided to try to date.”
When Downs Gunn eventually tried online dating, she shared no pictures and didn’t use her real name. But still, in 2017, she met Downs.
“My wife loves to tell the story because she is like, ‘Why did I answer that ad?’ Or ‘Why did I engage with a profile on a dating site that didn’t have a picture and ultimately sounded pretty sketchy?’” Downs Gunn said. “She was like, ‘You know you had all these interests that were the same as mine.'”
Even Downs’ friends warned her against meeting the then mysterious poster. But she did and it was “instant chemistry.”
“I knew that night that she was the one. And I think she did, too,” Downs Gunn recalled on the podcast.
After marrying in 2018, they wanted to start a family together and thought about doing reciprocal IVF where both would go through IVF for eggs and either could carry the baby. But, Downs Gunn’s ovarian reserve “was really not great.”
“It’s interesting. This is where I began to see the patient perspective,” Downs Gunn said. “We had a lot of conversations about it. We re-tested and ultimately just decided that we would go with her eggs and leave the option of my being able to carry. Although, I secretly hoped that she wanted to be pregnant and would in the future.”
She hopes that by sharing her story other people will understand that building a family doesn’t look just one way.
“The traditional way that you may think of how a family starts is … so much bigger than that. There are a lot more options than people may realize,” she said. “Even with a fertility journey it may happen in a way you never expected.”