Mother with TWO vaginas, wombs and cervixes defies the odds to give birth after doctors told her she would be infertile
- Eleanor Rowe, 36, found out about her unique anatomy five years ago
- Doctors told her it would be difficult to carry a baby before she met her husband
- Mrs Rowe miscarried one baby before conceiving again in November 2018
- Imogen Hope was born premature in July, weighing 5lbs 7oz
Eleanor Rowe, who has two vaginas, wombs and cervixes defied the odds to give birth to Imogen Hope in July
Told she had two vaginas, wombs and cervixes, Eleanor Rowe feared she would never mother her own children.
But the 36-year-old has now defied the slim odds, which saw her experience the heartbreak of one miscarriage along the way.
Mrs Rowe only found out about her unusual anatomy five years ago, after she went to freeze her eggs as a single woman.
Doctors removed the wall that divided the vaginas – leaving her with two cervixes and wombs – in 2015, and a year later, she met her husband, Chris.
The two were keen to have children, even though Mrs Rowe had been told it would be difficult due to her condition, called uterus didelphys.
But after doing ‘everything’ they could, the couple, from Ranskill, Nottinghamshire, found out Mrs Rowe was pregnant in November 2018, and Imogen Hope was born three months ago, weighing 5lbs 7oz.
Mrs Rowe only found out about her unusual anatomy five years ago, after she went to freeze her eggs as a single woman. She is pictured pregnant this year
Mrs Rowe said her irregular periods were the only sign something wasn’t quite right, but doctors dismissed her as not using tampons properly. Pictured with Imogen Hope after c-section
Mrs Rowe carried her first child, who miscarried, in her left womb. Then, she carried Imogen Hope in her right womb. She had surgery in 2015 to divide her two vaginas. Diagram shows how a normal uterus compares to sufferers of uterus didelphys
An ultrasound scan of Mrs Rowe’s two wombs. The two walls join in the middle where they are thinner. Mrs Rowe’s first baby attached to this wall, leading to a miscarriage. Imogen Hope can be seen in the right womb
Mrs Rowe, who works as a counsellor, said: ‘I just can’t believe I had lived three decades and didn’t know this was all going on inside me.
‘When I was told I had two of everything it did just seem a bit strange. I had had smear tests before and this was never picked up.
‘And all of a sudden I found myself with this unique anatomy which I had never heard of before.
‘I did take it in good stead. I’d joke and say I had a designer vagina. But the only thing I was worried about was my fertility.
‘That was my main concern. I just can’t believe she’s [Imogen Hope] actually here.’
In April 2013, single Mrs Rowe decided to freeze her eggs after having just entered her early 30s, and spent £6,000 on two harvesting cycles at a London clinic.
But when she was sent for a 3D scan of her ovaries, the sonographer mistakenly thought she was having full IVF treatment and instead carried out a 3D scan of her womb.
The results showed an abnormality on the scan, which led staff to believe she may have two wombs.
Mrs Rowe was wary of celebrating her pregnancy after losing her first child, and only shared the news with friends and family before 28 weeks. Imogen at nine weeks
Mrs Rowe met her husband, Chris, in 2016. The couple did ‘everything they could’ to have a baby. Pictured with Imogen Hope at nine weeks old
Mrs Rowe was referred to Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow for an investigative operation which revealed she also had two cervix and two vaginas.
The condition known as uterus didelphys – a rare congenital abnormality – developed when she was a foetus. It affects around one in 3,000 women.
Women are able to have children, but have a slightly higher risk of late miscarriage, premature delivery and bleeding during pregnancy.
Mrs Rowe said: ‘When I was first told about it I was just really confused.
‘I thought how could I have gone through life and not know. When I would go for smear tests nothing was picked up. It was just by chance that it was picked up.
‘I’m glad I did find out when I did because that meant my pregnancy could be monitored. It was just such a strange thing.
‘Externally everything seemed normal, with one vagina leading to one cervix leading to one of the wombs. But inside I had a duplication of everything.’
Mrs Rowe said her irregular periods were the only sign something wasn’t quite right.
Doctors told Mrs Rowe doctors the walls of her womb were so thick it would be unlikely she would carry children. But she recently gave birth to Imogen Hope (pictured)
Mrs Rowe claims doctors warned her she would face a 90 per cent chance of miscarrying. She is pictured with Imogen Hope and Chris in hospital after the c-section
WHAT IS UTERUS DIDELPHYS?
Uterus didelphys, also known as a double uterus, is a condition where a woman is born with two uterus, to separate cervixes and sometimes two vaginas, though this is not always the case.
It occurs because in a female foetus, the uterus starts out as two small tubes.
As the foetus develops, the tubes normally join to create one larger, hollow organ — the uterus.
Sometimes the tubes don’t join completely and each one develops into a separate hollow organ so the woman is born with two wombs.
It often only becomes noticeable after puberty and is diagnosed with a physical exam or an ultrasound scan.
In terms of physical anatomy, the two wombs are often slightly smaller than average in order to fit, though they can be as big as a ‘normal’ womb.
It also makes it possible to be pregnant twice at the same time – with a baby in each womb.
Some women are also born with two vaginas, although they can have sex and menstruate in the same way as people with just one.
‘They may know they have two and be able to find them, or they may not realise,’ Dr Leila Hanna, a consultant gynaecologist & Obstetrician at BMI The Sloane Hospital, told MailOnline.
‘It can be painful because there are two squashed in the same area, so sometimes we do an operation to join them together, but its not necessary.
‘They could also have abnormalities of their kidneys and the tube which bring the urine from the bladder.’
Women will frequently have a slightly higher risk of late miscarriage, premature delivery and bleeding during pregnancy.
Often caesarean sections are recommended, to reduce the risk of complications.
There is no treatment or cure for the condition.
She said: ‘I couldn’t use tampons as blood would leak.
‘Now I realise it was leaking from the second vagina but this should have been a sign that something was wrong when I was growing up.’
Mrs Rowe had two wombs which were both shredding their lining, causing periods.
Tampons are inserted all the way into the vagina through the opening, leaving some space towards the entrance, to collect the blood from the womb.
However, because Mrs Rowe had two vaginas, the blood from the second vagina would not be soaked up by the tampon. This caused her to leak blood.
Mrs Rowe said: ‘I did mention it to a doctor that I still bled when I used tampons but I was told “You can’t be using them properly”.’
In 2015, doctors removed the wall that divided Mrs Rowe’s two vaginas – leaving her with two cervixes and wombs.
‘When I was going for the operations I had nurses coming up to me and saying “so you’re the woman with a double vagina!” and wanting to know all about it,’ she said.
‘I would joke after my vaginal surgery that I now had a “designer vagina” to the nurses.’
Mrs Rowe claims doctors warned her there was a 90 per cent chance of miscarrying. Her wombs were smaller than an average and a different shape, which can put the foetus at a disadvantage.
She said: ‘When I was having surgery the doctors said the walls of my wombs were so thick I would be unlikely to carry children.
‘They said getting a baby to full termination would be a process and that every time I would get pregnant it would help to stretch out the womb.
‘I was also told that there was a 90 per cent chance I would miscarry. That was horrific to hear.’
Mrs Rowe’s fertility itself was not an issue, but her wombs were smaller than the average size of one, and the wall dividing them was thin.
A year later, in May 2016, Mrs Rowe met technology consultant Chris at a bar in London and the pair married two years later.
Mrs Rowe said: ‘When we became serious I told Chris about my condition. I told him it would probably be difficult to have a baby but he was very understanding.
‘When I got married we did everything to try and raise our chances of getting pregnant.’
Two months after their wedding the couple discovered Mrs Rowe was pregnant in her right womb, which she had been told was ‘weaker’.
Two months after their wedding, the couple discovered Mrs Rowe was pregnant in her right womb, which she had been told was ‘weaker’. Pictured on holiday in Japan just before
Mrs Rowe said her miscarriage was ‘devastating’ and she thought ‘the dream of becoming a mum just wasn’t going to happen’
In the first trimester Mrs Rowe suffered a miscarriage after the foetus attached itself to the thin wall that divides the two wombs.
Doctors were forced to medically intervene in the miscarriage as Mrs Rowe’s body had not done so naturally. She was induced for eight hours until she ‘gave birth’.
Mrs Rowe said: ‘Even though I had been warned about the difficulties I would face it was still devastating.
‘But this was the first time it had really hit home and it was a reality. My baby had died but my body hadn’t naturally miscarried.
‘Doctors told me they had never operated on someone with my anatomy.
‘They said it would be riskier than normal and they couldn’t tell me what the risks were because they had nothing to compare it to.
‘It was incredibly painful and of course upsetting. The dream of becoming a mum just wasn’t going to happen.’
After the baby’s funeral service, Mrs Rowe discovered she was pregnant for a second time, and she was immediately marked her as a high-risk pregnancy and given weekly monitoring at her hospital.
She said: ‘The timing was quite weird. I was mourning the loss of my first baby.
‘But I felt so empty not being pregnant anymore and all our conversations about the future were just on hold.
‘Because I was tracking my cycles and taking basal body temperature every day, we saw I ovulated and conceived the day of the crematorium service for the first baby.
After the first baby’s funeral service, Mrs Rowe discovered she was pregnant for a second time with Imogen (pictured)
Mrs Rowe conceived on the day of their first baby’s funeral, timed because she was tracking her ovulation. She is pictured with Imogen Hope
‘When we realised it was the day of the service we had conceived it feel quite overwhelming.
‘It was like we had been given a gift. We said goodbye to one baby and another one came to us.’
Mrs Rowe was wary of celebrating her pregnancy, and only shared the news with close friends and family before 28 weeks.
She said: ‘Once we hit that landmark we were able to buy things.
‘The first thing I bought was a pair of lamb boots in a little shop in the Lake District. I thought it would always remind us the hope of getting closer to becoming parents.
‘It was only when we got to over 20 weeks that it felt that becoming a mum would be a reality.
‘We had so many prayers and support from friends and family all over the globe.’
Throughout Mrs Rowe’s pregnancy doctors monitored her and at 24 weeks she had to be given steroid injections after contracting obstetric cholestasis – a serious liver disorder which can result in stillbirth.
Mrs Rowe said: ‘It was very upsetting to have developed this condition as it was already a high risk pregnancy without this additional complication, that we had never heard of before.’
But baby Imogen Hope was delivered via C-section at 35 weeks, weighing 5lb 7oz on 9th July 2019.
Mrs Rowe said: ‘She stubbornly made it to 35 weeks weeks – despite what the doctors said. Although it was an early labour.
‘Any fertility issue is an extraordinarily hard thing to go through. But even with my condition there was a happy ending.
‘I just want to give other women a bit of hope.
‘I have to get two smears from both cervix and I’ve been asked on several occasions if trainees can come and “have a look” as it’s a medical thing that they rarely get to see.’
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