‘After two life-threatening ectopic pregnancies, one miscarriage, and two rounds of IVF I finally have gorgeous identical twin girls’

Gorgeous identical twin girls Bella and Sofia love nothing more than to play with their toy tractors and go for walks outside.

It will be many years before they understand the heartache and personal sacrifices their parents made in bringing them into the world.

For mum Helen Corsi-Cadmore in particular her journey to starting a family was a difficult one from the outset. After trying to get pregnant for a year she suffered her first ectopic pregnancy in 2016.

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“I started bleeding then was in a bit of pain. This carried on and the pain got worse. It was at a time when I was opening a shop and it was my business partner who told me to go home and rest,” the 40-year-old recalled.

“I had some blood tests and then a very stern sonographer, who was very matter of fact, just said: ‘There’s an egg in the fallopian tube’. There was no empathy and I felt really alone. A consultant gave me 10 minutes to decide what to do: medically manage the pregnancy or operate.

“We went down the non-operation route initially but that night at home the pain became excruciating. I ended up having emergency laparotomy surgery as I was bleeding internally and I lost a fallopian tube.”

An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilised egg implants itself outside of the womb, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. It occurs in around 11,000 pregnancies a year and it’s not possible to save the unborn baby.

“I’d never even heard of an ectopic pregnancy. There’s definitely a huge lack of awareness considering how common they are,” she added.

“Little did I know I was going through something that was life-threatening – but many of the signs and symptoms of an ectopic are similar to a miscarriage.”

Helen, from Heath, Cardiff, said she was comforted by the team at the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust who she described as “a lifeline”.

“It took me three months to recover mentally and physically from this trauma and nine months before we thought about trying again. After taking fertility drugs I became pregnant again but then I miscarried the baby,” she recalled.

“We were advised to go down the IVF route. I’ve such a phobia of needles that this really worried me.”

At the first attempt the clinic managed to obtain seven eggs with one making it to blastocyst (a fertilised egg). However this resulted in another devastating ectopic pregnancy.

“The bleeding started when we were on a mini city break in Poland but that day we’d gone to Auschwitz. It was all so horribly depressing,” she added.

“The nurses at the IVF clinic knew me by now and my history and this time I had keyhole surgery for the ectopic pregnancy and lost my other fallopian tube.”

Helen said she had some professional counselling and felt “mentally prepared” to go through IVF for a second time on the NHS. This time the couple got more than they bargained for.

“Only two eggs were collected but only one could be transferred. At seven weeks we got the news that the egg had split – twins! How lucky were we? Two for the price of one,” Helen beamed.

“But I couldn’t enjoy it. I was constantly worried something would go wrong. I was told from the start that this was a higher risk pregnancy. The girls shared a placenta.

“I was scanned every two weeks and had brilliant care at the University of Wales Hospital in Cardiff but every time I asked: ‘Is there a heartbeat?’ I was just so worried.”

Helen and James taking Bella and Sofia home
Helen and James taking Bella and Sofia home

The twins are a little miracle
The twins are a little miracle

Husband James found Twins Trust, an organisation which provides families with the information and support they need to enable them to thrive. It offers help, information, and tips online, over the phone, or via email.

“We did a course in January 2020 and made some wonderful friends but it wasn’t until I had my babies in my arms that I started to relax,” she added.

Helen gave birth naturally at 35 weeks to Bella, weighing 5lb 2oz, and Sofia, weighing 4lb 15oz, on March 6, 2020 – just before the coronavirus lockdown hit.

Bella and Sofia love playing outside
Bella and Sofia love playing outside

The twins were born just before the first lockdown
The twins were born just before the first lockdown

“It was a mixture of relief and pure joy. I had my beautiful babies on the Friday and we were home on the Monday and it felt like we were just left to get on with it,” Helen said.

“In those first six months I really did not cope very well. We couldn’t see anyone and did not have the physical support of family. Just asking someone to watch the babies when you have a shower or go to the loo – simple things. I really missed human contact – it was a tough time.

“We saw the health visitor twice and we booked onto some of the Twins Trust webinars – it’s great that they are recorded because I couldn’t attend one as the girls were playing up.

“Now we feel we have come out the other side. The girls are walking and talking and we’re enjoying every single moment.

“They’re real characters. Even though they’re identical they have their own personalities. Bella is very cheeky and independent while Sofia is much more cwtchy.”

Helen, who now works as a business, fertility, and mindset coach, praised her health visitor and husband James who she described as a “positive and calming influence” on her throughout her treatment.

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