A woman from Nebraska born with two uteruses due to an extremely rare condition fell pregnant with twins, one in each uterus. Complications later led to early labor at 22 weeks, and both babies were delivered.
However, tragically, one twin did not survive, but the other fought hard for life, becoming the hospital’s youngest surviving baby. Now, mom Megan Phipps, 24, wants others to know that they should never give up hope that miracles do happen.
Phipps suffers from a condition called uterine didelphys, which means she was born with two uteruses and two cervixes. Only 0.1 to 0.5 percent of women are reported to share this condition.
“With my two older children I had perfect pregnancies,” Phipps, of Lincoln, explained to The Epoch Times, claiming that both her children, Mia, 6, and Xander, 5, were conceived in her right uterus.
Carried almost to full term, they were both born healthy. However, with her last twin pregnancy, Phipps knew something was wrong even before she learned that she was going to have two babies.
She recalled: “I was always in pain, I was always sick, I had a lot of cramping … I had a sciatic nerve that messed with my back and down my leg; if we went anywhere, I would have to be in a wheelchair.”
Additionally, Phipps also needed help out of her bed since she couldn’t use her back or legs until she moved them physically herself.
Phipps, who is a stay-at-home mom, learned that she was pregnant in both her left and right uteruses after her regular OB-GYN referred her to Bryan Medical Center maternal-fetal specialist Dr. Kenny.
However, at 22 weeks, Dr. Kenny’s role in her life got larger.
For Phipps, June 9, 2021, started out as “just a normal day” until she was waylaid by cramping, fatigue, and spotting while she was out for lunch with her mother. She called her fiancé, 21-year-old Dillon Martin, who drove her to Bryan East’s labor and delivery unit.
However, Phipps was sent home on bed rest. Feeling uncomfortable for the next three hours laying on the couch, she decided to try a hot bath but panicked when she passed her mucus plug. She and Martin then drove back to the hospital.
“I was put into a delivery room and admitted,” said Phipps. “The nurse called Dr. Kenny … [and] by ultrasound, he stated the girls looked good, but my left cervix was shortening. He wasn’t too worried about it, but with my condition, anything could happen.”
Concerned, Phipps stayed overnight at the hospital, receiving medication on the morning of June 11 to slow the shortening of her cervix. Meanwhile, the monitor didn’t pick up Phipps’s contractions and thus no one wanted to touch her in order to avoid making the situation worse. However, when a nurse came to check on Phipps, who told the nurse that the cramping was making her sick, the nurse checked and then told Phipps that “she could feel Riley’s legs basically kicking her.”
At 22 weeks and 4 days, Phipps was in active labor. Neonatologist Dr. Sitzman paid her and Martin a visit to share the reality of their situation, claiming the twins had less than 20 percent chance at survival.
The parents were given their options. “I told him if he could get the girls intubated, then I wanted them to have the chance of surviving,” said Megan.
Within five minutes of her transfer to the NICU’s delivery table, Phipps’s water had broken. Baby Riley was born on June 11 at 11.45 p.m. and Reece followed hot on her heels, at 1.04 a.m. on June 12. Both babies weighed under 1 pound.
After their birth, both babies were intubated, as per Phipps’s wish, and were placed on an oscillator to help them breathe through the crucial first 48 hours. Tragically, Riley lost her fight for life on day 12.
The grief-stricken parents then channeled everything they had left into fighting for their surviving daughter.
“I tried to not get attached,” Phipps recalled. “If anything happened to her, I wanted to be prepared for it, and for it to hurt less. But it didn’t work … I was by her side and too scared to leave the hospital, that something would happen if I did.
“Watching her grow was something words couldn’t even describe. It’s unheard of; most 22-weekers don’t survive. The doctors and nurses who worked with Reece were just as amazed as I was.”
Neonatologist Dr. Mark Brisso told Good Morning America that Reece, the youngest baby born at Bryan East to survive, signified “another step forward for our NICU to know that we can care for and successfully discharge even the smallest and most immature infant.”
After 144 days in the NICU, baby Reece was finally discharged on Nov. 2, weighing a healthy 8 pounds. However, she had a setback 21 days later; refusing to eat, she was admitted to the NICU at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha to be fitted with an NG feeding tube.
At 7 months old by her birth date, and 3 months old by her due date, Reece is “acting and developing as if she’s a 3-month-old baby,” said Phipps, but is expected to catch up to her peers by the age of 2.
Reece still uses oxygen, but her care team expects she will grow out of her chronic lung disease, which owes to premature lungs. A semi-permanent feeding tube known as a G-button now helps her receive food directly into her stomach.
“She has oral aversion,” Phipps told The Epoch Times; “too many bad experiences with tubes being down her throat that she doesn’t like anything in her mouth. We are currently working on getting her feeding therapy to help when she starts eating baby food.
“I’m proud of Reece,” she reflected. “I went there with two babies, and ended up leaving with one. It’s unfair; I cry all the time about Riley, but I’m so happy that I have this beautiful little miracle that I got to bring home with me.”
She added: “I fought for my girls, and mothers should do anything they can to fight for their babies … it may be a long road, but there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.”