Twin survival decision

MEDAVIA_TWIN_DECISION_07

A pregnant mother decided to keep both her twins even though doctors advised her that aborting one of them would ensure the other survived.

Carmelle Hartgrove, 32, and her husband Steve Hartgrove, 36, were delighted when they discovered they were pregnant with twin girls.

But at a scan when she was ten weeks pregnant Mrs Hartgrove, of Harlow, Essex, learned the twins were both monoamniotic and monochorionic, meaning they were sharing the same amniotic sac and placenta.

The condition nearly always leads to dangerous complications during pregnancy because the umbilical cords get tangled, restricting the flow of oxygen and nutrients.

Medics, who told the anxious parents that if left untreated, the girls would have just a 30 per cent chance of survival, told them they could save one baby by aborting the other.

Faced with such an impossible decision Mrs Hartgrove quickly decided to keep both babies, despite the high risk involved.

Both girls beat the odds and were born healthy in 2013.

Mrs Hartgrove said: “I look at them both now and think about what miracles they really are.

“In the end, it was not a difficult decision. A 30 per cent chance of survival was good enough for me.”

Mr Hartgrove, a lorry driver, and Mrs Hartgrove already had two children Charlotte, 12, and Callum, 9, when they started trying for a third baby.

Mrs Hartgrove, a human resources manager, fell pregnant with the twins in November 2012 after a miscarriage six months earlier.

Mrs Hartgrove said: “At the ten-week scan when I was told there were two flickering heart beats I couldn’t believe it.

“I started laughing with happiness. I was giggling so much that Steve had to ask me to stop as you couldn’t see the scan because I was moving around too much.”

But happiness turned to worry when the medics told Mrs Hartgrove there wasn’t a dividing membrane between the two babies – indicating it would be a high risk pregnancy.

Weeks later Mrs Hartgrove was told her twins were both monoamniotic and monochorionic – meaning they both were sharing the same amniotic sac and placenta. This can cause dangerous cord entanglement and compression.

Mrs Hartgrove was offered the chance to undergo a double termination, or selective reduction which would mean aborting one twin so the other could live.

Mrs Hartgrove said: “How could I choose between the two? I would always look at the twin which survived and think ‘I killed someone to save you.’

“Steve and I didn’t even need to have that conversation – we were united on the decision without having to discus it.”

For the rest of her pregnancy Mrs Hartgrove was plagued with worry that the twins would not survive 32 weeks, at which time

She said: “I couldn’t bear the idea of having to tell people I had lost the baby, so I didn’t tell people I was pregnant until 24 weeks.

“I went into hiding. I even worked from home.

“I was constantly worried they would get tangled up in the umbilical cord. All it would take to kill them was is if they stopped cuddling each other and pulled on the cord.

“There wasn’t a day which went by where I didn’t panic that they had died because I couldn’t feel them moving.

“It was a very stressful pregnancy. I would not wish that kind of stressful experience upon anyone.”

Eventually at 32 weeks the twins, called Charis Faith and Connie Grace, were born by C-section.

Both weighed a little over 4lbs and spent 20 days in special care.

Mrs Hartgrove said: “After Steve cut the cord on both of them he passed out immediately. It was very hot in there and he had been sat down all day, as soon as he cut the second cord he hit the deck.

“After I was wheeled into recovery I found myself in a bed opposite him – it was a dramatic end to a dramatic pregnancy.”

The twins are now both 20 months old and very healthy.

Mrs Hartgrove said: “When they were newborns they used to sleep huddled up next to each other like they did in the womb. Even now they are in separate beds they will climb into each others cots in the morning.

“I have a picture of the tangled placenta and cord – it is a big jumbled up knot. I look at it and think how on Earth did any blood flow get through that?

“When I think about the odds we were given and I hear about women who went through similar pregnancies I think I am so lucky to have both of them healthy and well.”

Mrs Hartgrove recently gave birth to another baby boy called Carter.

She said: “It was a doddle giving birth to him in comparison to the twins.”

More high resolution pictures are available on request. To discuss rates for using pictures and copy, contact news editor Tom Knight on 07815 004413 or tom@medavia.co.uk.

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