A WOMAN who was told she may never become a mother after being born with two reproductive systems has given birth to a total of four children.
Lauren Cotter, 34, was diagnosed with uterus didelphys at age 16 following years of agonising period pains.
The condition – which affects around one in 3,000 women – meant she was born with two uteruses, two cervixes and, in her case, two vaginas.
The primary school teacher was told that carrying and delivering children would be difficult because her wombs and cervixes were half the size of an average woman’s.
But, against the odds, Cotter and childhood sweetheart husband Ben, 33, have become parents to Amelie, 5, Harvey, 3, and 15-month-old twins Maya and Evie.
The mother carried all the girls in her right womb, while Harvey grew in her left.
Cotter, from Melbourne, Australia, said: “From quite early, on Ben and I discussed having children and it was clear that he really wanted to be a dad.
“I knew I had to be open and honest and tell him that might not be a possibility for me.
“Luckily he wasn’t bothered. We talked it through and agreed that there was more than one way to have a baby if you wanted it badly enough.
“But actually, we have found it easy to fall pregnant – I am not sure why, or if it has anything to do with my two vaginas.”
After starting her periods aged 14, Cotter soon began to suffer painful cramps and heavy bleeding.
An ultrasound two years later revealed she had uterus didelphys, which occurs when the uterus fails to fuse properly during development in the womb.
A few months after her diagnosis, Cotter had laser surgery to remove the dividing wall between her two vaginas, which enabled her to enjoy a normal love life.
A year later, when she was 17, she met her police detective husband and the loved-up couple got married in Melbourne in 2012.
Desperate to become parents, the newlyweds started trying for a baby a year after tying the knot.
But, while fertility itself was not an issue, Cotter was warned that miscarriages and stillbirths were a possibility given that her wombs were half the average size.
The couple, who were braced for a difficult road to parenthood, were shocked when Cotter became pregnant with Amelie in Oct 2013 after just a month of trying.
Cotter said: “We decided to give it a go, and just see what would happen. We knew it might be a bumpy road and tried not to get our hopes up too much.
“Just a month after we started trying, I bought a stack of pregnancy tests and started taking them weekly.
“Then one morning, I had a test to hand, and there on the stick was a very, very, faint blue line.
“I couldn’t be sure, so I took a test each morning that week, and each day the line got darker and darker until I was sure – we were pregnant.”
The pregnancy went smoothly and baby Amelie was delivered by Caesarean section on June 12, 2014, at Melbourne’s Mercy Hospital for Women, weighing a healthy 6lbs 13oz.
Settling into family life, the couple decided to start trying for baby number two around 18 months later.
After just two months Cotter became pregnant and was surprised to discover at her first scan that her baby was growing in her left womb, not her right, as before.
“I carried Amelie in my right, and just assumed the left one was a dud,” she added.
Following another problem-free pregnancy, Harvey was delivered by Caesarean at 33 weeks.
Arriving at the Mercy Hospital for Women, he weighed 4lbs 12oz, and, after initially struggling to swallow on his own, was allowed home after three weeks.
Already busy raising two young children, Cotter was unsure if she wanted to try again right away.
So a year and a half after having Harvey she was fitted with a contraceptive implant on the advice of her consultant.
“The Pill was giving me migraines and I couldn’t use the coil, so in the end the implant was the only option left,” she said.
According to the NHS, the implant is more than 99 per cent effective – but just three weeks after having it fitted, Cotter became pregnant with twins.
“This feeling came over me, and on some level, I knew I was pregnant,” she said.
“The day my period was due, I dug out a pregnancy test, and within minutes my suspicions were confirmed.
“Shocked doesn’t begin to cover it. During 17 years together, Ben and I had only ever got pregnant when we’d planned it. Now, here we were, having surprise twins.”
Concerned about how long Cotter would be able to carry twins due to her condition, doctors put her on strict bed rest from 19 weeks onward.
“My doctor was very honest and said he couldn’t know how the pregnancy was going to play out,” she said.
By the 37-week mark Maya and Evie were delivered by Caesarean on June 5, 2018, weighing 5lbs 13oz and 5lbs 4oz, respectively.
While they initially seemed perfectly healthy, drama struck just hours after their arrival when Evie began struggling with her breathing and was sent to intensive care.
An X-ray of her lungs showed she was suffering with congenital diaphragmatic hernia, which occurs when a baby is born with their intestines in the chest cavity.
At just five days old she had keyhole surgery, which her parents were warned she had just a 50 per cent chance of surviving.
But the youngster made a full recovery and was ready to come home after three weeks.
Now 15 months old, the twins are happy, healthy and at the centre of the family’s “crazy, hectic and amazing” life.
– Daily Mail