Most twins arrive in this world having spent months in the same womb with their brother or sister.
Not so for Nathan and Natalie Barbosa. The pair, born last week at Clearwater’s Morton Plant Hospital, joins a minuscule number of twins worldwide born to a mother with a double uterus. The hospital estimates the odds of such a birth are 1 in 5 million.
"It was definitely a surprise," mother Andreea Barbosa of Clearwater said of the condition she once thought would keep her from ever having children.
About one in every 2,000 women worldwide is born with a double uterus. It happens before the mother's own birth, when two small tubes that become her uterus fail to join completely. Most women never know they have the condition, and one uterus serves as the main organ for housing a fetus.
Barbosa, 24, said she and her husband, Miguel Barbosa, felt extremely lucky when daughter Izabella was born two years ago. They were stunned to learn Andreea was pregnant again, much less with twins.
"I was happy with my one. And now I have my three," she said Monday.
The pregnancy itself is a lot like a fraternal twin pregnancy, which happens when two separate eggs are fertilized at the same time, obstetrician Patricia St. John said. The difference is that the eggs in this case nestled into the separate uteruses.
St. John, a 27-year veteran OB/GYN, scoured medical journals to find similar cases. She said she found about 70 known cases worldwide of a woman with a double uterus becoming pregnant with twins.
"I was a little nervous at first because it is so exceedingly rare," she said.
The worry was unheeded, as the pregnancy itself went well. Nathan arrived Thursday weighing 5 pounds, 8 ounces; Natalie weighed 5 pounds, 10 ounces.
The babies were delivered by cesarean section, only because of a condition affecting one of the placentas, St. John said. And the babies went home from the hospital Monday.
Barbosa admits she's curious about her unusual set of twins. She's already watching to see if they show the kinds of behaviors twins who develop in the same uterus have, such as crying when they are placed too far apart.
"I wonder if they will have that twin connection," she said. "Who knows?"