Jane Woodhead was devastated to learn that, in order to be a mom, she would likely have to resort to IVF. The reason? She has a condition known as uterus didelphys; she has two uteruses and two wombs.
“When I was told about the uterus didelphys, it was a huge surprise as I’d been having routine smears for years and no one had picked it up. They said it was possible alternate ones had been checked and it was obviously a bit of a shock. To think it’s something I was born with but never knew was bizarre,” Jane told Wales Online. “But what worried me the most was that I wondered if I’d ever be able to become a mum as they told me my chance of getting pregnant would be slim.”
But then, just before she and her partner, Paul Herridge, put their names down on the 12-to-18-month IVF waiting list, something amazing happened . . . Jane found out she was pregnant, and she’d conceived naturally!
“Just a week before we were about to have our first IVF appointment, I was given the bombshell. Brilliant news,” Jane said. “It was unbelievable. I had been feeling unwell for a few weeks so I went to the doctor and she said she would test my urine. I told her there was absolutely no need as I couldn’t possibly be pregnant and then she came back and told me it was positive. It felt unreal and I was over the moon.”
Jane did have a lot of concerns at first, given her condition, but an ultrasound revealed that everything was right as rain. She was going to be a mom!
“I had to wait four days before having a scan which I needed for reassurance that everything was okay. They needed to check it wasn’t ectopic and, sure enough, there was a baby in my left womb and I was very much pregnant,” she said. “They did check the other womb and there was a chance I had been carrying another baby as they could see something there but there was definitely no heartbeat. It took a long time to sink in.”
But, as well as the baby might have been then, Jane had to be monitored closely throughout the duration of her pregnancy; more risks as she came closer to term would be present, and doctors wanted to make sure that she and baby made it through the pregnancy okay.
“I had got through the first challenge of getting pregnant and I just wanted a successful outcome. We had to keep a close eye on everything and I had 17 scans in 39 weeks. There were certain risks with this condition, including early or late miscarriage, premature or early labor, low birth weight, and it’s more likely you would need a cesarean,” she said. “As well as the University Hospital of Wales consultants, I went to see specialist Bryan Beattie at Innermost Secretes private clinic where I had growth and 4D scans and the NIFTY test to check for Downs Syndrome because of my age. It was there that we found out we were having a little girl at 15 weeks and we were just so overwhelmed and excited.”
You would think that all the scans and checks would be stressful, but Jane said that they actually gave her a little extra reassurance during her pregnancy. She also took all the extra precautions she could on her end, such as eating healthy, taking her supplements, exercise, and Daisy Birthing classes to help her prepare for labor.
“I never felt able to relax during the 39 weeks as I was aware of the risks and I was so grateful to be able to tick every week off the calendar and move closer to my due date,” Jane said.
All those weeks added up to months until, on July 18th, Grace Violet Herridge entered the world with a bang . . . literally.
“Grace made an entrance into the world in a storm with heavy rain, thunder and lightning, which started when I was asked to start pushing and ended abruptly 10 minutes later when she appeared. It was very bizarre to the point where Paul, myself, and the midwife fell silent,” Jane said. “She was born 11 days after my 40th birthday and was the best 40th birthday present I could have ever asked for or dreamed of. She’s my little miracle. I still stare at her for hours, even now, 12 weeks after she was born, and can’t believe she is really mine.”
And that knowing, that Grace, her little girl, is hers, is a blessing that Jane counts daily, especially as her little girl grows and develops quickly. To add to the mix is Paul’s son, Thomas, and the family pet, a dog that Jane and Paul adopted after receiving the original diagnosis.
“There are no guarantees that I can have any more and to have her, and our other furry baby, Zak, is just wonderful. Paul’s son, Thomas, comes to visit every weekend and is a great big brother. I just can’t believe how lucky I am. She is our lovely, beautiful miracle,” she said. “[Grace] is doing so well and is such a lovely little thing, even though she likes to sleep a lot during the day and wake up every two hours at night. She’s gaining weight and has grown from her birth weight of just 6lb to 11lb and we feel very, very blessed to have her.”
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