A pregnant woman who was expecting twins was told by doctors that it was unlikely both babies would survive to full term. They suggested aborting one of the twin girls to save the other, but the mother refused.
British couple Carmelle Hartgrove, 32, and her husband Steve, 36, were thrilled when they learned they were expecting twins.
“At the 10-week scan when I was told there were two flickering heart beats, I couldn’t believe it,” Carmelle told Mail Online. “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.”
The joy was short lived, as medics informed the couple the unborn babies were both monoamniotic and monochorionic. This meant that the babies shared the same amniotic sac and placenta which could cause fatal complications in a pregnancy.
Due to the high risk of cord entanglement and compression, doctors suggested Carmelle undergo a double termination or selective reduction to ensure the survival of at least one of the babies.
“How could I choose between the two?” Carmelle said. “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 discuss it.”
Carmelle, who had a miscarriage six months earlier, said the rest of her pregnancy was stressful.
“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,” she said. “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 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,” she added. “I would not wish that kind of stressful experience upon anyone.”
In 2013, at 32 weeks, Carmelle went into labor and gave birth to two healthy twin girls, Charis Faith and Connie Grace. They weighed about 4 pounds and stayed in special care for 20 days.
“After Steve cut the cord on both of them he passed out immediately,” Carmelle recalled. “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 of him — it was a dramatic end to a dramatic pregnancy.”
Charis and Connie are now 20 months old and are healthy as can be. Carmelle says they are as inseparable now as they were in the womb
“When they were newborns they used to sleep huddled up next to each other like they did in the womb,” she said. “Even now they are in separate beds they will climb into each others cots in the morning.
“I look at them both now and think about what miracles they really are,” Carmelle added. “In the end, it was not a difficult decision. A 30 percent chance of survival was good enough for me.”