A woman told she was genetically a man with no reproductive organs when she was 19 has given birth to twin girls.
Hayley Haynes, 28, had miracle babies Avery and Darcey after she grew a womb thanks to hormone therapy.
Gazing lovingly at the baby in her arms, Hayley can’t believe that all her dreams have come true.
On the day of that devastating diagnosis she recalls staring at herself in the mirror and struggling to understand.
She looked like a woman but was told she would never have children as she had no womb, ovaries or fallopian tubes.
After growing up dreaming of becoming a mum it was a devastating blow.
But now, nine years on, she has given birth to her twins after IVF treatment using an egg donor.
She and husband Sam, both 28, are overjoyed to become parents, but it has been a long hard road.
Hayley, from Bedford, had no idea she was different growing up. But at 19 she still had not started her periods despite going through other signs of puberty.
After months of hospital trips and blood tests, specialists told her she had been born with XY chromosomes, meaning she was genetically male.
She had no reproductive organs thanks to a condition called androgen insensitivity syndrome.
She says: “When they told me I had no womb I was so confused I felt sick. My biggest fear was never having children.
“Suddenly a huge piece of my life was missing. I felt like half a woman and was embarrassed. How I was going to tell a guy I was genetically male when I started dating?”
One man she could tell was her friend Sam. They had been close since 16 and he comforted her throughout her ordeal.
Sam recalls: “She told me no man would want her. I told her that any man worth having would. At the time I said it as a friend – it’s quite romantic that man turned out to be me.”
A ray of hope came in 2007 when a new specialist at Royal Derby Hospital found a tiny womb missed on previous scans.
“It was only a few millimetres, but it was a start,” says Hayley. “He was optimistic it would grow. I still couldn’t conceive naturally but I could have the option of IVF.”
The first step was a course of hormone tablets to give her the right levels of progesterone and oestrogen. They would stop her suffering osteoporosis and create an environment where her womb could grow.
Meanwhile, Hayley and Sam’s friendship blossomed and after she spent her 22nd birthday with him in London, he asked her to be his girlfriend.
She says: “He’s been my confidant from day one and so supportive. I was worried any man would run a mile.
“But with Sam I felt accepted and loved for who I was. But we still didn’t know if we would ever have children.
“We both wanted a family, but we just had to wait and see if the treatment worked.”
They got their answer in 2011 when Hayley was told her womb was ready for IVF.
But then came a bitter blow when their local NHS trust refused to fund free IVF even though guidelines said it should.
Hayley says: “First I found I couldn’t have children, then I was told I could. Now they were denying us the help we needed.
“Although adopting was an option, we wanted the baby to be as close to biologically ours as possible by using an anonymous egg donor and Sam’s sperm.”
Determined not to give up, they paid £10,500 – more than half their savings – for IVF treatment at a clinic in Cyprus, plus flights. And last April they flew 2,000 miles to pursue their dream.
Hayley recalls: “I was so nervous. We only had one shot and couldn’t afford to go through it all again. I desperately wanted to be a mother and knew if there were no viable eggs or the implantation wasn’t successful I’d be distraught.
“Of the 13 eggs harvested only two were viable. After they were implanted I spent the rest of our 10 days resting.”
Doctors told Hayley there was a 60% chance she would get pregnant and she should wait two weeks before taking a test. But her excitement got the better of her after she started feeling faint and she took one after 10 days.
“I was so nervous I was shaking from head to toe,” she says. “I peered at the test andit said positive. I couldn’t contain my happiness.
“I was jumping up and down and screaming, but Sam kept his cool and made sure we took another test before we celebrated.”
When Hayley went for her six-week scan it was a shock to discover both eggs had taken and she was expecting non-identical twins.
“I couldn’t believe it,” says Hayley. “I freaked out, but I was over the moon at the same time. I had the chance to have a complete family.”
Sam adds: “I felt numb with excitement. It was two for the price of one.”
The first 12 weeks were nerve-racking because there was still a chance she could miscarry.
Hayley says: “One day I forgot to take my tablets. I was in floods of tears thinking I’d messed everything up.”
But everything went well and in December her doctors decided to induce her two weeks early. And on Christmas Eve she gave birth naturally to Avery, at 5lbs 3oz, and Darcey, 4lbs 6oz. Although they were premature, the girls were healthy.
Hayley says: “Becoming a mother was the single most amazing moment of my life. When I held the babies in my arms for the first time I was overwhelmed.
“I had spent nine years coming to terms with the fact this might never happen, but in that moment all the pain just washed away.
“Darcey and Avery are the most beautiful little girls in the world. Even now, I can’t separate Sam from the girls because he loves them so much.
“We’ve spent so much on these babies. It’s not just our wallets that are empty. We are emotionally exhausted.
“But I’d do it again in a heartbeat for one cuddle with my girls.”