A mum gave birth to two babies in one year – as they each grew in her two different uteruses.
Caroline Wortman, 30, discovered she was nearly ten weeks pregnant with her second child, Brooks, just six months after the birth of her first daughter, one-year-old Josie.
This came after she was told that she may be infertile after being diagnosed with uterine didelphys – meaning she was born with two reproductive systems.
Caroline, from Woodstock, Georgia, said: “Having children was always something I knew I wanted, but I just tried to stay positive and not dwell too much on it.
“Infertile was the story that I told myself for ten years.”
But after seven months of trying, Caroline became pregnant with Josie, and found out she was pregnant again just six months after her birth.
Her first ultrasound told her that her son was growing in the other uterus.
“Josie was in the right, Brooks was in the left,” she said.
“For women with my specific diagnosis I just hope that this is one story that they can turn to and say ‘look, this girl was told no and she had two healthy babies in one year’,” she said.
Uterine Didelphys is caused because when a female foetus is growing, the uterus starts out as two small tubes called Müllerian ducts.
These will eventually fuse together to form the reproductive system in a process called embryogenesis.
Women with uterine didelphys do not undergo full embryogenesis, and can be born with two full reproductive systems.
Caroline was 18 when she had her first appointment with the gynaecologist who, after completing the exam, told her that she had two cervixes.
She said: “I honestly shrugged it off because I didn’t really realize what the implications could be.
“I did ask the doctor what having two cervixes meant and remember her telling me that I may be infertile and if I did become pregnant, it would likely be complicated and high risk.
“I think this took years and meeting my husband to really sink in, but it was always in the back of my mind.”
A couple of months later she went for an internal ultrasound where it was confirmed that she had two complete uteruses, and was diagnosed with uterine didelphys.
She was also told that it may be difficult for her to get pregnant in the future.
Caroline, who works for a law firm, said: “I always knew I wanted to be a mum, I just wasn’t sure that I would be able to without adoption, surrogacy or some other intervention.”
As she grew up, her diagnosis did not affect her life, but things changed when she met her now-husband Nate Daniel Wortman, 35, when she was 23.
They were introduced by a mutual friend while Nate was serving in the Army and was stationed near Caroline in Savannah, Georgia.
Eventually she opened up to him about her uterine didelphys.
The visual communications graduate said: “I was nervous. I knew when we started dating that he wanted children and I didn’t know if it was something I could give him.
“But he was very reassuring and didn’t really seem to be bothered by the fact that we may need to seek other options for having children.
“He always just said it would work out how it was supposed to work out.”
The couple were married in September 2019 and very quickly started trying for a family.
She said: “I didn’t know how long it may take, if at all.
“I was worried but you always hear worrying makes getting pregnant harder, so we just tried to be happy and relaxed as newlyweds about the whole thing.”
On April 25 2020, Caroline went out for a job but had to stop as she started to feel strange and out of breath.
It then hit her that her period was a few days late, and she took a pregnancy test that she had bought months prior.
She said: “While I was waiting for the test results, I put the stick in a drawer so I couldn’t stare at it while I was waiting.
“I felt like I was about to pass out from nerves, I hadn’t even told Nate that I was going to take the test.
“Once it came back positive I had ideas in my head all these cute ways I wanted to tell him the news, but freaked out in the moment and just rushed downstairs and showed him the test.”
The happy couple went to the doctors and found out she was seven weeks along, and continued to have monthly appointments and internal ultrasounds to check she was progressing smoothly.
Her uterus that was not carrying her baby was simply pushed aside as it grew, and little Josie Magnolia Wortman was born on January 2 2021 at a healthy six pounds.
The family-of-three spent a happy six months as just that, before Caroline started feeling nauseous while out at lunch with her parents the following June.
She said: “I thought it was my dad’s driving, but that second all the weird symptoms clicked in my head and I took the test that next morning before work.
“When I came downstairs from taking the test Nate asked ‘are we in the clear?’ and I held up the test and smiled and said ‘nope!’
“We were giggly with excitement but also still terrified.”
The couple had not been trying for a second baby, but at her next appointment Caroline discovered she was already almost ten weeks along – and the baby was growing in her other uterus.
She said: “The baby was small enough each time to see the other uterus and confirm which side the baby was in – Josie was in the right, Brooks was in the left.”
While her pregnancy was normal, she went into labour at 33 weeks and five days, and was completely dilated by the time she reached the hospital.
“Upon my cervix check in triage, the nurses felt the baby’s feet!” she said.
Brooks Daniel Hayes Wortman was born on Boxing Day 2021 weighing just 5lbs 5oz, and remained in the NICU for nine days.
Caroline believes his prematurity was likely due to her cervix dilating early, which is a common complication with uterine didelphys.
She shared her unique pregnancy story on TikTok, which now has over 930,000 views and nearly 39,000 likes, in order to raise awareness of fertility struggles.
She said: “Being infertile and thinking you will be infertile are two drastically different things, but I would just encourage women to not give up if they want to become mothers, and to not take a doctor’s words as the be all and end all.
“I don’t remember really coming across any relatable stories with my specific diagnosis during my pregnancy, so I hope this can be that to at least one woman.”