By Liana Jacob
MEET THE PROUD MUM who only discovered she had TWO WOMBS AND VAGINAS during a routine ultrasound scan which resulted in a miscarriage – but a year later has welcomed a healthy baby girl.
Primary school teacher, Bethany McMillin (27) from Michigan, USA, fell pregnant with her husband, Paul (25), in October 2017 and during her 10-week scan, the doctor noticed something unusual about her anatomy.
She was then diagnosed with a rare condition called uterus didelphys, a uterine malformation where there are two uteruses, two cervixes and two vaginas present.
Consequently, the foetus had stopped developing at just six weeks and Bethany miscarried in January 2018 when she was just three months pregnant. Ever since her diagnosis she was told that the risk of a second miscarriage or preterm labour was very high due to the condition.
She noticed that each month she had her period, one tampon wasn’t enough to absorb the menstrual flow, as the blood would leak out from her second vaginal opening, which prompted her to use two tampons.
A year after she lost her first baby, Bethany discovered she fell pregnant again in December 2018 and whilst she was happy with the news, she felt more cautious in case something went wrong. However, when she reached her nine-week scan, she heard her baby’s heartbeat for the first time and she finally let herself feel hopeful.
In September 2019, she gave birth to her daughter, Maeve, who is now five months old, and she has since embraced her condition and tried to raise more awareness. She says that joining a group on Facebook was helpful for her during her journey.
“I became pregnant for the first time in October 2017. My husband and I hadn’t particularly been trying to conceive, but we had stopped actively trying not to,” Bethany said.
“Since we didn’t have any problems conceiving, it didn’t even cross my mind that something could be wrong with my reproductive organs.
“We announced the pregnancy to my family as a Christmas present on December 23. Late that same night, I began bleeding.
“First thing the next morning, we went into Urgent Care, where it was confirmed that I had had a missed miscarriage – I was supposed to be about ten weeks along, but the baby had stopped developing at around six weeks.
“The doctor there also informed me that the ultrasound showed that I had two uteruses and two cervixes.
“He was a little baffled, as he had never seen a patient with anatomy like mine before, so there wasn’t really anything he could tell me about it.
“A little over a month later, I went for a check-up, and the gynaecologist there noticed that I also have a full vaginal septum that divides my vagina into two sections; essentially, I also have two vaginas.
“I was very confused. I had never heard of such a thing before, I didn’t know it was even possible. I didn’t understand how I could have been born this way and never known.
“Also considering the fact that my mother had had six healthy pregnancies that resulted in six healthy children, it hadn’t really crossed my mind that I would be any different.
“It was also then that I finally learned that the name for this condition is uterus didelphys. Over the next several months, I went to a few more doctors to try to learn more about uterus didelphys, but most doctors weren’t very experienced or knowledgeable about it.
“What little they did tell me was pretty bleak; I heard all about the high chances of recurrent miscarriages, preterm delivery, baby being in a breech position, and that I might never be able to have children at all. Despite all that, I became pregnant again in December 2018.
“It took about a year. The second time around, I was much more hesitant to get excited, since I knew the chances of another miscarriage were higher than normal.
“I was worried because I didn’t know if any doctors in my area were knowledgeable enough about uterus didelphys to provide adequate prenatal care for my specific situation.
“I didn’t let myself have hope until after my nine-week ultrasound scan, when I saw my baby’s healthy heartbeat.
“It was farther than we had gotten the last time, and statistics say that having a healthy heartbeat after just six weeks is a strong indicator that you won’t miscarry.”
Bethany admits that being a mother is the only job she’s ever wanted, that she even dropped out of university after failing to find a better career.
Finding out after her miscarriage that she was likely never to be a mother was devastating for her, so her life was filled with joy when she welcomed her daughter into the world.
“Being a mother has always been the only job I ever wanted. I’ve never been a career-driven woman,” she said.
“I actually dropped out of college because there just wasn’t any career I wanted to pursue apart from motherhood.
“When I first found out that I had uterus didelphys, and that sometimes women with this condition can never have children at all, I wrestled for a while with the question: how could God make me with such a strong desire to be a mother, but then make me in such a way that I might never be able to?
“But He was faithful and brought me through the difficult circumstance of losing a child, even though I didn’t understand why He chose this path for me.
“I came out as a stronger person with a deeper faith and then when He did finally give me a child after all, a perfectly healthy child from a relatively uncomplicated pregnancy, it made the joy and gratitude so much deeper.
“So, having this dream finally come true has been an amazing blessing. Even the challenges and difficulties and sacrifices that come with having a child haven’t felt as challenging or difficult or sacrificial for me, because I know this is what I was meant for. I feel more fulfilled in my life by being her mum.
“I do still get period cramps every month, but they aren’t debilitating like I’ve heard they can be for some women. Other than that, I don’t have any regular pain as a result of having uterus didelphys.
“When I had been using only one tampon, a substantial amount of blood would still leak out, so much so that I would still have to wear a full pad in my underwear as well.
“Once I found out that I had a second vagina, I realised that the blood was still coming out from the second, unplugged side. When I started putting one tampon in each side, almost no blood leaks out anymore.
“Even in the bleakest of circumstances, God is more powerful, and everything He does is for our good and for His glory. So, don’t despair, there is hope.
“Get to know your own body. This condition is rare and can vary vastly from woman to woman. There is a lot that is unknown about it, and even what is known about it may not apply to every woman who has it.
“Find a support system. For me, joining the Facebook group ‘Uterus Didelphys Support Group’ was immensely helpful.
“It’s full of women who also have uterus didelphys, asking questions and sharing their experiences. I learned more from the women in that group sharing their personal experiences than I did from doctors and all their medical training.”