Monday, April 19

Experience: I carried a twin in each of my wombs | The pregnancy

TThe day I gave birth, there were 24 people in the room, most of them fascinated medical students. At 10.11 in the morning they saw my daughter, Bonnie, come into the world, and five minutes later they saw Watson come out of my other womb.

The twins were not our first children. Our oldest daughter, Agyness, was born two months earlier, in 2015, but doctors said preterm labor was “one of those things.” When I became pregnant with Margot, born six weeks earlier, in 2017, the scans revealed a bicornuate uterus, which means it is heart-shaped. But no one saw the second.

Our pregnancy with the twins was unplanned. My lump was much larger than in my previous pregnancies, and Agyness joked that there were two babies. My grandmother was a triplet and my partner Josh has identical twin cousins, but still, when I saw twin heartbeats on my 12 week scan, I was shocked.

The sonographer revealed that I had not only two babies, but two uteri. She said she had never seen a pregnancy like that in her 30-year career; the consultant had only heard of it in textbooks. I could hear the nurses talking about it in the hallway. I discovered that one in 30,000 women, like me, has two uteri and two cervix, a congenital condition called the uterus didelphys. But conceiving a twin in each is practically unheard of.

I was alone when they told me, as the Covid restrictions meant that Josh and the girls had to wait for me in the car. It was taking longer than they expected and I heard text messages pinging, but couldn’t reach my phone.

When I got to the car and handed Josh two scans (twin one and twin two, each in his own womb), he cursed. We couldn’t stop laughing, at that moment oblivious to the enormous risk involved. My mother started Googling the probability of having twins in two wombs; Since then, doctors have told us that it is one in 50 million.

We had to drive from our home in Essex to London for weekly specialist appointments. Josh had to wait in the car every time, which cost us a lot. The pregnancy was very high risk because so much was unknown, with only a handful of cases recorded, each very different. You could go into labor at any time after 20 weeks.

They told me that I could lose one or both babies, and they gave me the option of interrupting one in hopes of improving the chances of the other. I had no intention of doing that, but it stifled me and it scared me to hear how high the stakes were. No mother wants to face a decision like that.

I had a scan every fortnight and was told that I might have to have two separate labors. I was fired from work (I fill the shelves at Tesco) at the request of my consultant. I struggled to sleep throughout the pregnancy and, with each twinge, I wondered if I was going into labor. I was anxious and exhausted.

In the end, most things went according to plan. The twins arrived by caesarean section scheduled for 35 weeks on October 23 last year. Watson spent 24 hours in special care, but otherwise they were perfectly healthy. We spent a week in the hospital. Josh, who works for a plumber tradesman, only has two days off, so everything has been close at hand.

We always wanted a great family. Now there are six of us on a two-room terrace, so we just accept the chaos. We haven’t ruled out any more boys, but I like even numbers so it may have to be twins again.

We have been asked if our story can be used in a medical journal. It’s funny to think that one of our children could become a midwife or a doctor and learn about their family as a case study. My doctors still don’t know why no one noticed the condition before, but they can’t find what they’re not looking for either – it can be difficult to detect even during pregnancy. In a way, not knowing with my previous pregnancies was a blessing; I would have worried more.

Josh proposed last month, at home, on my 29th birthday, with the children all around us and one on our knees. I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with him in this house full of personalities. It is chaotic, but you never feel alone.

As told to Deborah Linton

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