The 36-year-old told her husband, Chris, 40, they would likely have problems trying to start a family. But after rubbing a fertility tree on their honeymoon to Japan, the couple were finally gifted with some good luck.
Eleanor learned about her unique anatomy back in 2013, when she decided to freeze her eggs – spending a pricey £6,000 on two harvesting cycles at a London clinic.
It was only when she was sent for a 3D scan of her ovaries, the sonographer noticed the abnormality.
Mistakenly thinking Eleanor was having the full IVF treatment, a 3D scan of her womb was carried out – revealing Eleanor’s rare biological set-up.
After being referred to Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, where an operation was carried out to decipher the scan, surgeons confirmed Eleanor had not only two wombs, but two cervixes and vaginas as well.
I thought it was a bit odd when [the sonographer] left to get another member of staff. They came in and told me I might have two wombs, and referred me to hospital.
When I was first told about it I was just really confused. I thought, how could I have gone through life and not know? When I would go for smear tests nothing was picked up. It was just by chance that it was picked up.
I’m glad I did find out when I did because that meant my pregnancy could be monitored. It was just such a strange thing. Externally everything seemed normal, with one vagina leading to one cervix leading to one of the wombs. But inside I had a duplication of everything.
The condition is known as uterus didelphys – a rare congenital abnormality developed as a foetus, and the chances of having it are one-in-a-million.
Eleanor, a counsellor, said she took it in good stead at first: ‘All of a sudden I found myself with this unique anatomy which I had never heard of before… I’d joke and say I had a designer vagina.’
Eleanor explained that her periods have always been irregular. ‘I couldn’t use tampons as blood would leak. Now I realise it was leaking from the second vagina, but this should have been a sign that something was wrong when I was growing up,’ she said.
Although, she did raise the issue with her doctor – who told her she mustn’t have been using them properly. After such a dismissive response, Eleanor wasn’t keen to delve any further.
In 2015, Eleanor underwent a corrective procedure to remove the wall between the two vaginas – still leaving her with two cervixes and vaginas.
However, the 36-year-old’s immediate concern was fertility – how would her condition affect any future pregnancy?
The only thing I was worried about was my fertility. That was my main concern. I just can’t believe she’s actually here.
When I was having surgery the doctors said the walls of my wombs were so thick I would be unlikely to carry children. They said getting a baby to full termination would be a process and that every time I would get pregnant it would help to stretch out the womb.
I was also told that there was a 90 per cent chance I would miscarry. That was horrific to hear.
Eleanor met Chris, a technology consultant, in 2016 and two years later, they wed. ‘When I got married we did everything to try and raise our chances of getting pregnant,’ she said.
Two months later, Eleanor fell pregnant in her right, weaker womb – unfortunately, she suffered a miscarriage in the first trimester.
Due to her condition, Eleanor had to be induced for eight hours by doctors until she ‘gave birth’ – as her body hadn’t carried out the process naturally.
Commenting on the experience, Eleanor said:
Even though I had been warned about the difficulties I would face it was still devastating.
But this was the first time it had really hit home and it was a reality. My baby had died, but my body hadn’t naturally miscarried.
As the couple attended the funeral service for their miscarried child, Eleanor discovered she was pregnant once more.
The timing was quite weird. I was mourning the loss of my first baby.
But I felt so empty not being pregnant anymore, and all our conversations about the future were just on hold.
When we realised it was the day of the service we had conceived it feel quite overwhelming. It was like we had been given a gift. We said goodbye to one baby and another one came to us.
Her pregnancy was immediately marked as high-risk after visiting her GP. As such, for the first 20 weeks, the couple kept it to themselves.
Doctors monitored her and at 24 weeks she had to be given steroid injections after contracting obstetric cholestasis – a serious liver disorder which can result in stillbirth.
‘It was very upsetting to have developed this condition as it was already a high risk pregnancy without this additional complication, that we had never heard of before.’
But then, on July 9, the little miracle arrived: Imogen Rose was born via c-section, weighing 5lb 7oz.
She stubbornly made it to 35 weeks weeks – despite what the doctors said. Although it was an early labour.
Any fertility issue is an extraordinarily hard thing to go through, but even with my condition there was a happy ending.
I just want to give other women a bit of hope.