The Woman with the Remarkable Body
One Life – Two Babies in Two Wombs
34 year old Claire Miles was born with two wombs, two cervixes and two vaginas. Doctors told her that she might never be able to have children, but she became pregnant in both of her wombs. Claire has a girl in her left womb and a boy in her right womb. In the last 50 years there have only been 4 double-womb cases where both babies survived.
Claire’s wombs are completely seperate so her babies could be born weeks, if not months, apart. As her wombs are half-sized she and her husband David have been told that if she bacame pregnant she would probably lose the babies. But, in October 2004 she conceived in both wombs and is now 24 weeks pregnant.
Since 1905, less than 70 women in the world are known to have been pregnant in two wombs. In 1982, at the age of 12, Claire and her parents, Carol and Philip, moved to Devon. At this time no-one, including her mother, knew she had two wombs. That discovery was made in her early twenties when she was taken to hospital with pains in her vagina.
At the age of 21, Claire had an operation to turn her two vaginas into one. Doctors advised her that operating on her two wombs would not increase her chances of having a family.
In September 2004 David married Claire. As her chances of becoming pregnant were small, they immediately started trying for children. Claire is now 24 weeks pregnant and is due to have a caesarean at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital at 36 weeks.
Consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician Miles Taylor monitors the babies’ growth. The most important thing is to get them through the next two weeks. He explains that “The survival rates become near to 100% once the babies reach 29 to 30 weeks. They can still run into problems because their lungs are not fully formed, so we hope to get beyond that stage”. Claire has a 1 in 4 chance of her babies being delivered prematurely because her wombs are half-sized and may not stretch enough to hold the babies as they grow. Miles measures the babies to see if they are growing at a normal rate. If one of the babies is restricted, it might have to be delivered, leaving it’s sibling time to develop in the other womb. At this stage, the girl in the left womb is showing signs of being restricted. She is slightly smaller than her brother and her head is slightly elongated.
A week later, a further scan is taken and Miles measures the circumference of the baby girl’s head to see if her brain has enough room to grow. Miles is reassured as, while the head is elongated, the overall circumference is normal.
In May 2005, one week before the babies reach the 30 week threshold, Claire has a problem with her ankle and has to be admitted to hospital. Dr. Taylor is concerned that it may be thromboembolic disease and a scan reveals a blood clot in the ankle. Claire is given a drug to thin her blood and the following day, with the clot under control, she is discharged.
Three days after the babies are 31 weeks, Claire is rushed to hospital, she has started to contract in her right womb. Claire is given tablets to stop the labour and steroid injections to help the babies’ lungs develop in case either of them has to be delivered. The baby boy is in a breech position, so a caesarean will be needed and Dr. Taylor has to decide if both babies will be delivered at the same time. It would be better from te baby girl’s point of view if she could be left to develop further, but Claire would have to undergo two caesarean operations. Two days later the contractions have stopped and Claire is allowed to go home. At 33 weeks they do another scan which shows that the babies’ growth is good, the blood flow in the umbilical cords are good, but the levels of amniotic fluid are low! Dr. Taylor thinks now is the time to deliver and the paediatricians are happy with this. An hour and a half later, Claire is called to the operating theatre.
Noah Henry was born weighing 4lb 15oz, 7 minutes after Maisie Rose who weighs 4lb 13oz. As the babies are 7 weeks premature they are taken, immediately, to neonatal intensive care. Both babies have respiratory distress and need support with their breathing.
Claire has not yet had the chance to touch either of her babies. Two hours later, Claire is taken to the neonatal ICU for her first chance to see and touch her babies.
Withing 5 days, the babies are well enough to be moved out of intensive care and after a month and two days in hospital, Maisie and Noah are allowed to go home.