Identical twins cheated chilling 50 per cent odds of strangling each other in the womb, with this incredible, life-saving hug.
Told at her 10-week scan that the twins were monoamniotic - meaning they shared one amniotic sac - nursery nurse Vicky Plowright, 30, was warned this meant their umbilical cords could become tangled, shutting off their oxygen supply and killing them both.
Vicky, of Godalming, Surrey, whose fiancé, Chris Cremer, 32, is also a nursery nurse, said: “I was with my sister, Georgina, and we were told the twins were monoamniotic, or Mo-Mo (Monoamniotic-Monochorionic), twins. This is very rare, affecting between one in 35,000 and one in 60,000 twins in the UK, and means they shared one amniotic sac, instead of having one each.
“I was devastated, as doctors explained it also meant the babies were at extremely high risk - around 50 per cent - of not surviving the pregnancy, because of their close proximity. They still had two umbilical cords, to deliver nourishment, which could become tangled, strangling them, which was so frightening to even imagine.”
Vicky had gone to the 10 week scan with Georgina, expecting it to be routine and hoping to simply update Chris later.
Instead, she said: “I was in total shock, as I’d just been saying to my sister ‘as long as there’s not two,’ as we already have a daughter, Jocelyn, four, and I didn’t think we had the space or energy for two more.”
But the laughter soon stopped when, moments later, the sonographer told them the twins looked worryingly close together.
Immediately given an internal scan, fortunately, any possibility of them being conjoined was dismissed, but doctors were still concerned about the babies.
“The scan seemed to show our twins were sharing the same amniotic sac,” Vicky continued. “They said it meant the babies were at high risk and we needed to go back as soon as possible to see a specialist.
“I was hysterical and rang Chris in a total state. I had no idea what this would mean.
“In the space of an hour I’d found out we were expecting twins, but that they could be in danger. It was torture, thinking that we could lose them at any time”
But everything changed at the 12 week scan, with a specialist sonographer, when Vicky and Chris saw the twins had moved into a lifesaving embrace.
“To our astonishment, at the 12-week scan, we saw that they were cuddling each other and holding hands,” Vicky recalled. “They were keeping each other alive by staying still, so their umbilical cords didn’t get tangled.”
Doctors arranged to see Vicky every one to two weeks for check-ups, until the twins reached 32 weeks, when they wanted to deliver them.
“For the next few months, we were in a constant state of worry,” said Vicky, who discovered at 17 weeks they were having boys.
“I didn’t feel I could get excited, because I was so worried we were going to be told at every scan that our twins hadn’t survived.”
But, at the 12 week scan, the couple saw something magical - their boys happily hugging each other and holding hands.
“By staying still in that position, they’d stopped the cords from becoming so badly tangled that it killed them,” Vicky said. “It really was a miracle.”
At 13 weeks one twin’s cord did wrap slightly around the other, making them lie even closer and stiller. Fortunately, this meant it was less likely for a major knot to form.
Then, at 32 weeks, Vicky was relieved when she was advised to give birth to her babies, as twin number two, Theo, had stopped growing, because of the limited womb space.
So, on 22 December 2015, she was taken to a delivery suite at the Royal Surrey Hospital in Guilford, with Chris by her side, for a caesarean.
With Ed Sheeran’s 'Photographs' playing in the background, Reuben arrived at 11.22am weighing 3lb 14oz, followed by his identical twin brother, Theo, just one minute later, weighing 3lb 7oz.
“Both of them came out screaming and, most importantly, they were alive,” Vicky recalled.
“Chris was sobbing next to me, as well. We were just so happy that they’d made it.”
Vicky was discharged on Christmas Day, enjoying a festive lunch at her parents Gerry and Rita Plowright’s house, then returning to hospital to see the boys that evening.
The twins were kept in the neo natal unit for another five weeks, before being discharged at the end of January.
Now, aged 22 months, they could not be closer.
“They are the best of friends,” Vicky beamed. “Before they even knew the world, they knew each other, and grew together in such a small space that I knew they would have a special bond for the rest of their lives.
“Reuben is the ‘do-er’ and Theo the ‘thinker’, but they always have an eye on where the other one is.”
Bliss, a charity for babies born premature and sick, supported Vicky by providing access to information and support services. Parents who find themselves in a similar position to Vicky can visit bliss.org.uk or call 0808 801 0322 for more information.
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