In the early hours of the morning, Claire Evans felt an urgent need to use the bathroom. Then, as serious pain took hold, she knew that something wasn’t right. Even so, the young woman never anticipated what was about to happen. And before long, there would be some shocks in store for her and her partner.
Claire, from Stoke-on-Trent in England, was in her twenties at the time that she experienced that severe cramping. Even prior to that, though, she had faced some pretty tough times. In 2000, when she was just 19 years old, Claire had woken up to discover that her right hand seemingly wasn’t functioning. She was neither able to write nor pick up even the lightest of objects.
And as Claire’s condition didn’t improve, she went to a doctor. After consulting a medical professional, though, she received a devastating diagnosis. Claire had multiple sclerosis (MS), which is typically brought on after deterioration of the central nervous system. It’s a permanent condition with no known cure.
Naturally, being diagnosed with MS at such a young age was hard for Claire. Although she ultimately regained her mobility, there was always the fear that the condition would flare up again. And as a result, Claire wondered if her MS would ultimately impact on whether she would find a partner or start a family.
Fortunately, though, just a few months after being told that she had MS, Claire was well enough to go back to work. What’s more, it was there that she met Paul Whalley, and the pair ultimately began dating. And just as Claire’s love life began to improve, so, apparently, did her health.
Indeed, on a 2009 episode of the Discovery Fit & Health show I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant, Claire said, “[Paul and I] went out every night, and I just got better and better. He seemed to pull me out of myself.” Indeed, as time went on, her MS symptoms appeared to fade.
Then, in April 2004 the couple welcomed their first child: a baby boy they chose to name Harry. And, thankfully, Claire’s pregnancy was a straightforward one with no real difficulties. Any luck that she may have had on the health front would appear to run out after Harry’s birth, however.
That’s because Claire’s MS symptoms worsened to the point where she became partially paralyzed. In a 2006 interview with newspaper the Sunday People, she explained, “My right leg went dead, and I had to use a wheelchair. My arms went dead, and my eye became so fuzzy I had to wear a patch.”
The new mom’s condition became so dire, in fact, that she couldn’t even lift up her son to hold him. In the end, then, Harry went to live with his grandmother. And Claire, who could no longer drive or socialize outside of the home, ended up confined to her bed.
That summer, Claire gained around ten pounds in weight. She chalked this up to spending extended periods of time in a sedentary position, however, as well as the steroids she was taking to help manage her condition. And when it came to extending the family further, Claire and Paul hadn’t planned on doing so at that time.
But on one night in September 2005, the couple’s lives would end up changing forever. On that occasion, Claire awoke at around 1:00 a.m., feeling the need to use the bathroom. She was in severe discomfort and – most alarmingly – was bleeding profusely.
And while Claire made it to the bathroom, the agony didn’t let up. Indeed, on I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant, the mom explained, “I thought [the pain] was going to kill me.” Then, as Claire would later tell the Sunday People, she experienced “the most incredible urge to push. [After that,] I turned around and there was a baby crying.” It appeared that the MS sufferer had been in labor all that time.
However, Claire had had no clue that she had even been pregnant. She had been taking the contraceptive pill, after all, and her menstrual cycle hadn’t even been interrupted. And Paul, who had been in the bathroom with his partner, was just as surprised as Claire to find that he was a dad again. On I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant, he revealed, “My reaction [to the birth] was shock – quite a bit.”
But there was another surprise to come for the couple. As they held their newborn daughter, Claire felt the urge to push again. Initially, the pair thought that she was delivering the placenta – but they were wrong. Even though she hadn’t realized that she had ever been pregnant, Claire had given birth to twins.
After that, Paul quickly transported Claire and their new daughters to the hospital. And, happily, both of the girls were found to be perfectly healthy – despite the surprise pregnancy and births. The couple named the new arrivals Macie and Charlie.
Regardless of how much time Claire spent with the twins in the hospital, though, she couldn’t believe what had happened. But there was to be one more shock to come for the mom of three and her partner. You see, only a few hours after Macie and Charlie had entered the world, the symptoms of Claire’s MS began to disappear.
When Paul reached out to touch Claire’s hand, she realized that she had regained the feeling she’d lost months before in the appendage. And it didn’t stop there. Claire’s leg began to recover; in due course, her vision started to improve too.
In fact, Claire told the Sunday People, “Everything just came back within one week of the birth.” Eventually, then, she could move around by herself, drive and see her friends again. And, best of all, she was able to take care of her babies as pretty much any new mom would.
Research has found that pregnancy can reduce the symptoms of MS – particularly in the final months of gestation. And while doctors don’t know exactly why this happens, it’s suspected that hormones play a big part. Claire’s case is unusual, though, since after giving birth a woman with MS is usually more likely to experience increased symptoms – perhaps because her hormonal levels are returning to normal.
And Claire didn’t take her new-found good health for granted. Indeed, she told the Sunday People, “It was absolutely amazing. I’d got my life back.” The mother of three added to the newspaper, “I am a very lucky woman. And every time I look at my twins, I think they are my little miracles who saved me.”