A mum who had previously suffered 16 miscarriages witnessed herself 'lose' a multiple pregnancy, only to discover she had experienced 'vanishing twin syndrome'.
She went on to give birth to two healthy babies.
Emma White, 38, endured many miscarriages for more than 20 years, and had reached the stage where she'd lined up a surrogate, believing there was no more chance of delivering a sibling herself for her daughter Mollie Rose, 12.
The entrepreneur and business trainer from Kirby, near Liverpool, said, "my miscarriages started when I was just a teenager and I went on to have 16 of them over the years – all before nine weeks.
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"It was absolutely crushing. I'm now making it my mission for other women who miscarry to know they're not alone."
After experiencing her first miscarriage at 18, and eventually giving birth to Mollie Rose, she decided not to try for a baby again, to avoid more heartbreak.
"I had my one child. I'm an only child myself. I thought that was it for me after Mollie Rose," she said. "After all the pain and the worry, I was content."
Emma has also never been given a reason for her many miscarriages.
However, when she met her current husband, jewellery importer Joe White, in 2019, her feelings changed.
"I met Joe and he told me straight away that he wanted children. I told him 'no'. But then about two weeks later I was so happy, in love and comfortable that all I could think was, 'give me babies!'"
Emma got pregnant twice and suffered two miscarriages, but trying one last time, she got pregnant again in late 2020 - this time with twins. But sadly, this pregnancy also ended in a miscarriage at six weeks.
She said, "After I'd lost the twins i knew that was it. I just couldn't do it again. Joe completely understood."
But, in a twist of fate, Emma found out she was pregnant again after not using protection, as she had so recently lost the babies.
She spent the early days of the new pregnancy understandably terrified. "I'd check the toilet every time I went, " she said. "I was scared to use it, scared to cough, scared of any ache or pain."
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At six weeks, she started bleeding and shaking uncontrollably. She went to Liverpool Women's Hospital where she was given a blood test and told to return in two days for a scan.
"I got in there, lay down and the sonographer didn't turn the screen around. I'd been in so many times before and I knew it meant more bad news, " she recalled.
The sonographer then called for further help, with medics rushing into the room.
"One person was trying to put compression socks on me, another was reading warnings about surgery off a piece of paper," she said.
"Finally, someone told me it was a confirmed ectopic pregnancy – when an unviable fertilised egg implants itself outside the womb, usually in one of the fallopian tubes."
She was told she'd have to have one of her fallopian tubes removed.
Within six minutes of the emergency call, Emma was being sedated in theatre. She woke having lost all hope of having a baby herself. But that night, she overheard a doctor talking to a colleague about the fact that she was still pregnant.
Rather than an ectopic pregnancy, a blockage had been found in one of her fallopian tubes during surgery, which was cleared, so her pregnancy, located safely in the uterus where it should be, was continuing.
It was then a shock when, at a scan a few days later, she found out she was pregnant with three.
Emma said, "I was stunned. I still couldn't believe it as I was taken off to see a specialist in multiple pregnancies.
"She showed me another scan image and there were four tiny blobs." Both Joe and Emma were delighted at the news of quadruplets, and a private scan reassured them their four babies were doing well a week later.
Two days later, she "felt something fall out". She found herself staring down at what she described as "clearly little babies."
Due to her bleeding, hospital staff weren't able to carry out an internal scan, but an external scan showed there were no signs of pregnancy.
Emma said, "I was told it looked like I'd 'passed' the pregnancy. I knew they were right, as I'd seen the babies with my own eyes. I knew they'd gone." She then shared what had happened on social media for support.
"I put it all on Facebook and a woman came forward offering to be my surrogate. We were all lined up and ready to go."
But weeks later, she had a vivid dream where here late grandfather David told her the babies were still there. "I woke up with a start. My granddad died when I was four and I never have those kinds of dreams."
She added, "I grabbed a doppler I had on top of the cupboard, held it to my stomach and listened. Sure enough – there was a whooshing sound."
Despite Joe's confusion, Emma went to hospital and insisted on being scanned. "They must have thought I was mad. I'd been marked down as having lost the babies and there I was, hysterical and crying, saying, 'I've had a dream. I'm still pregnant'."
The scan confirmed Emma's dream and showed she was still pregnant – with two babies. In an extremely rare occurrence, Emma's quads – two sets of identical twins – had suffered a condition called vanishing twin syndrome, twice over.
The syndrome happens when one of a set of twins dies in the uterus and the embryos are usually then reabsorbed into the body. Emma had lost one from each set of identical twins – leaving her with two non-identical twins – and had passed the embryos.
Professor Luciano Nardo, Founder and CEO of NOW-fertility describes it as "an early pregnancy condition in which one of a set of twins disappears as result of being reabsorbed within the uterine cavity".
He added, "The outcome is that of a spontaneous reduction of a multiple pregnancy to a singleton pregnancy, as demonstrated on an ultrasound scan."
Already 12 weeks pregnant, Emma went home to tell Joe the unexpected news. She said the rest of her pregnancy, finally in contrast to the others, was "amazing."
She was induced at 37 weeks and delivered two healthy baby girls – 5lb 2oz Aurora Azalea and 5lb 11oz Ophelia Lili on 2 October 2021 at Liverpool Women's Hospital.
"I love being a twin mum. It's not for everyone, but I cherish every single day," said Emma. "It still feels like a miracle even now the girls are three months old."
Emma, with a following of 35,000 on Facebook due to her line of work, credits the support of her social media friends for helping her get through everything she endured – especially the stranger who offered to be her surrogate.
"It was all during the pandemic, so I couldn't give my friends and family hugs like I wanted to. All the messages and support of my followers really got me through."
She added, "I just want all the women out there to know there's no shame in it. There are so many of us suffering, thinking we're mad, terrified every time we get pregnant. I hope my story can give some hope."
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