Lauren’s body has never done anything by halves, but even she was surprised by twins!
Here, Lauren Cotter, 34, tells the story in her own words.
T￼aking home our baby Harvey was a massive relief.
After being born seven weeks premature, he’d spent three weeks in the special care baby unit.
It wasn’t that early compared to some of the tiny bubs in there, but I’d still found it pretty traumatic.
‘We’ve got our family now,’ I smiled to my husband, Ben, as our little girl, Amelie, then two, asked to hold her new brother. ‘And both my uteruses have had a go!’ I joked.
You see, I’d been born with a very rare anatomy.
I had two vaginas, two uteruses and two cervixes.
When this had been discovered at age 16, I’d had an operation to create a single vagina but my double uterus was left alone. It turned out it gave my babies a choice of where to start their lives. Amelie had picked my right uterus and Harvey my left!
‘It could mean you have premature babies,’ I’d been told early in both pregnancies.
Because there were two, both uteruses were smaller than usual and might not be able to hold a baby full term.
Amelie had made it to a comfortable 37 weeks but Harvey, in the much smaller left side, was premmie.
‘Another baby could come even earlier. You definitely need to wait two years for your body to recover if you want more children,’ I was advised by my obstetrician.
‘I’ll try the contraceptive implant,’ I told Ben.
Having it inserted in my arm, I felt relieved to know I’d be covered for the next three years. And then it happened – when Harvey was just 13 months old.
It was the first or second month I’d had the implant and I did a pregnancy test to check it was working. Soon blue lines gleamed. What? No! I thought. I’d done everything right. How could this possibly be happening?
And with my body doing nothing by halves there was more shock to come.
‘It’s twins,’ the sonographer said at seven weeks.
‘No!’ Ben gasped. ‘Can my body even do that?’ I asked, terrified.
They were both in the same uterus and given it was barely big enough for one bub how would two fit?
‘I don’t know how this will work,’ my obstetrician said.
Like every other doctor or midwife I’d met, he’d never seen my condition before and with the added complication of twins there was no precedent.
‘You’re going to be on bed rest from 20 weeks,’ he predicted. ‘And they will come early.’
Thankfully, scans showed the pair were in my larger right uterus but at first, even that couldn’t calm my stress.
‘How am I going to do this?’ I sobbed to Ben. ‘I don’t want to lose them.’
But as the weeks rolled on, I reached more milestones… 20 weeks, then 24, and 30.
I spent most of the time in bed. Lying flat took the pressure off my cervix and the risk of early labour.
Poor Ben had his hands full with the kids and my mum, Glenda, 58, was amazing too.
At 33 weeks the obstetrician gave the bubs steroids to help their lungs develop quickly as he expected them to be born that week, but incredibly they kept going until 37 weeks.
‘I’m impressed,’ he smiled as he delivered the twins – two little girls – by caesarean in June last year.
Maya was 2.57 kilos and Evie was 2.4 kilos.
‘We made it,’ I said happily, cuddling Maya, while Evie was taken for some oxygen.
Hours later, Evie still wasn’t back and there was concern about her oxygen levels.
Then she was diagnosed with a serious condition called congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH).
A hole in her diaphragm meant her intestines had pushed up into her lung cavity and were squashing them.
‘This can’t be happening,’ I sobbed as she was intubated and we were told she needed emergency surgery.
Evie was transferred to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne and we discovered babies with CDH have only a 50 per cent chance of survival.
The next few days were terrifying as we waited for our tiny bub to be stable for the operation.
Four days later she was given the lifesaving surgery and incredibly came out fighting.
Amazingly, we were all home in just three weeks!
Ten months on and the twins are healthy. Maya is a real go-getter, doing everything early, while Evie is our sweet little chatterbox. Amelie, four, and Harvey, two, adore their little sisters.
I’m not taking any chances though and my double uterus is closed for business after an operation to cut my fallopian tubes. With quadruple trouble already, I don’t want to take any more risks!
Read more in this week's issue of that's life, on sale now.
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