A woman has revealed her overwhelming joy after discovering she was pregnant with triplets – despite suffering from a rare condition that meant her womb was split in two.
Jemma Sheppard, 33, from Newport, believed the rare condition, which meant her uterus was divided into two cavities, would make it difficult for her to carry one child.
So she and husband, Anton, 32, were stunned when doctors told them they were having triplets – with all three babies squashing up into one side.
Cradling six-month old daughters Elevyn and Areya and son Rome, Jemma, who works in finance said: ‘Anton and I would have been thrilled with just one baby – but to have such a beautiful family in one go is just amazing.
‘The chances of me conceiving and carrying one child was so small. Every time I look at our babies I pinch myself. It’s just a dream come true.’
The couple, from Newport, wed in September 2015 but had already started trying for a baby.
When they didn’t conceive after a year their GP referred them for tests.
‘Hormone tests revealed I had polycystic ovaries so I wasn’t ovulating properly,’ she says, ‘and also that my rather than being the usual pear shape, my uterus was heart shaped.’
A heart-shaped uterus, also known as an arched womb, can range from mild where there is just a small dimple at the top to a full double uterus.
Jemma said: ‘While I could take drugs to help me ovulate, my uterus shape was very pronounced and there was no treatment. It felt devastating news.’
Two months later – and having been prescribed drugs to help her ovulate, she got pregnant but sadly at seven weeks the baby died.
Five months later she had another miscarriage at six weeks, followed by another early miscarriage.
When a further six months passed without a pregnancy the couple decided to seek private fertility treatment, using Itrauterine insemination (IUI).
Jemma explained: ‘My ovulation was tracked by ultrasound and just before I was due to produce eggs, Anton’s sperm was injected into my womb.
‘Although doctors said there were three follicles – so potentially three eggs – we were told there was only around fifteen per cent chance of a pregnancy with one baby. So we didn’t get our hopes up.’
However, they were thrilled when two weeks later a pregnancy test proved positive and amazed when a scan revealed three babies.
‘I could hardly believe it when the sonographer said there were two heads – and then Anton said he could see three,’ says Jemma, ‘we were also told it would be quite likely one baby might not survive.
Jemma explained: ‘I got so large and uncomfortable that while the babies were healthy, towards the end I was in a wheelchair.’
They were finally born at Cardiff’s university Hospital wales on 20th December at 35 weeks by c-section.
Elevyn was born first weighing 5Ib 7oz, followed by Rome 4Ib 11oz and Areya, 3Ib 5oz.
Jemma said: ‘We were all stunned by how heavy and healthy they were with only Areya needing a couple of days in the neonatal unit as she was quite tiny.’
Three weeks later the Sheppards took their family home.
And Jemma added: ‘We can’t wait to tell them about their amazing start in my heart- shaped womb. They truly were born with love.’