Pregnancy isn’t particularly easy for anyone, even if you are one of those mythical moms who flew through all three trimesters with glowing skin, flowing hair and a hemorrhoid-free fanny. But one mom who was born with a rare condition that meant she had two sets of reproductive organs had a particularly challenging go of it.
Not that she let that stop her. Now the mother of two beautiful, healthy children, Faye Wilkins is hoping that by speaking up about her experience, she’ll remove the stigma that surrounds her condition.
Wilkins, who spoke to The New York Post, is used to fielding stares and questions — even from reproductive health professionals — when she tells people that she was born with two vaginas. She was also born with two cervices and uteruses as well, a condition called uterus didelphys. She’s struggled with the condition from an early age, beginning with a uterine rupture when she first started her period, something she described as leaving her in agony and that required an operation to merge her vaginas. Because the two organs are roughly half the size that one uterus would be, both embryonic implantation and avoiding premature birth are very difficult, which means this mom and her babies defied the odds to become a family.
Since that time, though, she’s gone on to carry and deliver two healthy children, a 7-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son — in both uteruses, no less! — despite being told her chances of carrying a baby to term in either were very slim indeed. Her daughter’s birth required a cervical stitch, called a cerclage, in her left uterus, while her son was placed on steroids in her right womb to speed his growth. Both babies were born seven weeks and two days early, but both were “little fighter[s],” according to Wilkins.
It’s a reminder that while most of us still snicker when the topic of genitalia comes up — particularly when it comes to people like Wilkins and the now internet famous Double Dick Dude — struggling with these sorts of conditions is no laughing matter. It often leaves the people who live with those challenges feeling like they can’t be candid about their experiences, which are often painful both physically and emotionally.
Wilkins, for instance, described learning about her pregnancies as something that inspired trepidation before excitement. Like many women, she suffered a miscarriage, but unlike many women, her miscarriage was almost certainly due to her uterus didelphys. When people are too busy gaping at you or being titillated when they find out why you’re struggling, it’s understandably difficult to feel you can speak openly about a very serious loss like that.
We all need support during pregnancy, and when a pregnancy is risky or difficult, we need even more of it. While the miracles of modern medicine and top-notch prenatal care made it possible for Wilkins to become a mother, the miracles of progressive conversation have a little ways to go.
That goes, of course, not just for conditions like uterus didelphys, but for all women and every pregnancy. It’s unbelievable that we live in a time when talking about a miscarriage is still considered so stigmatized that we lionize the people who speak up about something that happens all the time. Think about how revolutionary the conversation around Kate Middleton’s hyperemesis gravidarum seemed and how many women felt relief over finally being able to talk about it.
There’s not much we can do for someone facing the physical challenges of a rough pregnancy. But there’s a lot we can do to take some of the sting out of its emotional challenges.