BORN with two vaginas, two wombs and two cervixes - Eleanor Rowe feared she would never be able to have her own kids.
She'd been diagnosed with uterus didelphys and doctors had warned her there was a 90 per cent chance she would miscarry if she were ever to get pregnant.
However, the counsellor, 36, has now defied the odds and gone on to have her first child.
Eleanor is now sharing her story to give hope to other women who may have uterus didelphys.
She said: "I just can't believe I had lived three decades and didn't know this was all going on inside me.
"I just can't believe she's actually here.
"She stubbornly made it to 35 weeks - despite what the doctors said."
Eleanor, from Ranskill, Nottinghamshire, only found out about her unusual anatomy five years ago - when she went to freeze her eggs at a London clinic.
And while she had asked 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.
Eleanor was referred to Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow for an investigative operation which revealed she also had two cervix and two vaginas.
Eleanor said: "I hit my thirties and I was still single so I thought it was best to freeze my eggs.
"I was at a stage in my life where everybody I knew were getting married and having babies.
"I paid for the first cycle but that was unsuccessful.
"After I paid for the second, the sonographer didn't read my notes properly and just assumed I was paying for the full IVF treatment.
"She ended up doing a 3D scan of my womb instead of my ovaries.
"I thought it was a bit odd when she left to get another member of staff.
When I was first told about it I was just really confused - I thought how could I have gone through life and not knowEleanor Rowe
"They came in and told me I might have two wombs and referred me to hospital.
"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."
The condition known as uterus didelphys - a rare congenital abnormality - developed when Eleanor was a fetus.
And doctors told her the chance of having it was one in a million.
Looking back, Eleanor now realises she was showing symptoms of the condition.
She said: "My periods have always been irregular so I always had a hunch I would need some help with assisted conception.
"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.
"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'.
"I just didn't want to raise it again after such a dismissive response."
Eleanor then decided to undergo corrective procedure in 2015 to remove the wall that divided the vaginas - leaving her with two cervix and two wombs.
However, doctors warned she faced a 90 per cent chance of miscarrying.
Eleanor said: "They said getting a baby to full term 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."
What is uterus didelphys?
Also known as double uterus, the condition means women are born with two uteri, two separate cervixes and sometimes two vaginas.
The two wombs are often slightly smaller than the average womb in order to allow them both to fit.
A double uterus often causes no symptoms. The condition may be discovered during a regular pelvic exam or during imaging tests to determine the cause of repeated miscarriages.
Women who have a double vagina along with a double uterus may suffer heavy menstrual bleeding that isn’t stopped by a tampon.
In these situations, the woman has placed a tampon in one vagina, but blood is still escaping from the second uterus and vagina.
Women who continue to bleed after a tampon has been used or have extreme menstrual pain should see a doctor.
There is no known causes as to why some women develop two wombs, although genetic factors have been considered.
Risks and complications:
Many women have normal sex lives, pregnancies and deliveries.
But sometimes a double uterus can cause:
- premature birth
- kidney abnormalities
Source: Mayo Clinic
A year later, Eleanor met technology consultant Chris at a bar in London in May 2016 and the pair married two years later.
Eleanor 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.
"When we were on our honeymoon in Japan I made sure we rubbed the fertility tree in as that was meant to bring good luck.
"We were also told Japanese black beans were good for fertility - so I was eating them like there was no tomorrow.
"I tried to revamp my diet too by cutting out processed foods and even changed what cosmetic products I used."
Two months after their wedding the couple discovered Eleanor was pregnant in her right - and weaker - womb.
But devastatingly, in the first trimester Eleanor suffered a miscarriage after the fetus attached itself to the thick dividing wall.
Doctors were forced to medically intervene in the miscarriage as Eleanor's body had not done so naturally.
She was induced for eight hours until she 'gave birth'.
The timing was quite weird - I was mourning the loss of my first babyEleanor Rowe
Eleanor 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.
"I was given two options - to choose surgical management where they do it when you're asleep or medical management where they give you medication to induce contractions and instigate the 'miscarriage'.
"I wanted the surgery as I wanted to be asleep but doctors were really reluctant to carry out the termination with an operation.
"They 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.
"They gave me medication to dilate the cervix and start the contractions.
"I think it took about eight hours if I remember correctly.
"It was incredibly painful and of course upsetting - the dream of becoming a mum just wasn't going to happen."
After the couple attended the funeral service for their miscarried child, Eleanor discovered she was pregnant for a second time.
She booked an appointment with her GP - where she was immediately marked her as a high-risk pregnancy and given weekly monitoring at her Sheffield hospital.
Eleanor 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.
"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.
"I didn't want to get ahead of myself after what the doctors told me. We decided to keep this to ourselves.
"It was only when we got to over 20 weeks that it felt that becoming a mum would be a reality."
Throughout Eleanor's pregnancy doctors monitored her and part-way through she contracted obstetric cholestasis - a serious liver disorder which can result in stillbirth.
Eleanor 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."
Baby Imogen Hope was delivered via c-section at 35 weeks, weighing 5lb 7oz on 9 July 2019.
And now Eleanor is eager to give other women with the same condition she has "hope".
More on women's health
She added: "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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