Here, Lauren Knowles, 29, tells the story in her own words.
L￼eaving the appointment, my head was spinning.
We might be having twins, I thought, excitedly imagining two cots, the double pram and all the little outfits we’d have to buy.
It was daunting, but the idea of being a twin mummy was super exciting too. Don’t get carried away, I told myself.
The six-week ultrasound I’d just had was very inconclusive. ‘There are multiple sacs,’ the doctor told me. ‘And the HCG hormone you produce when pregnant is very high.’
It pointed to twins but I’d been spotting blood and it was too early to see heartbeats. So I had to wait two weeks. I veered from imagining my son Charlie, then two, cuddling two bubs, to fearing I might lose them. By my eight-week check, I was a wreck and the results did nothing to calm my nerves.
‘You’re having a molar pregnancy,’ the doctor said seeing my new scan. ‘What?’ I asked.
Handing me an information sheet, he explained how there’d been an error during the fertilisation process. Instead of a foetus, my much-wanted bub was just a cluster of cells. I listened, numb, as he added I’d need a small operation to remove the cells.
‘We’ll need to keep a check on your hormone levels but hopefully that will be the end of it,’ he said. Hands shaking, I called my fiancé Trent, 29, who was away working as a seafarer. ‘There’s no baby,’ I told him, devastated.
The next few days were awful as I lay clutching a hot water bottle to my now-empty belly. A few days later, wanting to know more about molar pregnancies, I googled it. The words ‘cancer’, ‘chemo’ and ‘hysterectomy,’ glared back from my screen.In worst-case scenarios some of the tissue from the cluster of cells continues to grow in the womb and can turn into cancer, I read. Already on edge, my nerves went through the roof.
A few weeks later, when blood tests showed my hormone levels were still high, my fears were realised. ‘You need a low dose of chemo,’ my doctor explained. Horrendously, what had been a pregnancy was now turning into a cancerous tumour. ‘This can’t be happening,’ I sobbed to Trent.
One of the best months of my life was quickly turning into the worst. For two weeks it looked like the chemo injections were working but then suddenly my HCG hormone levels shot up. They were doubling, then tripling, within days.
Terrified and waiting for doctors to decide what to do, I took Charlie to the park. Pushing him on the swing, I felt a sensation as if I had wet myself. Looking down there was blood everywhere. ‘Mummy needs to call Daddy,’ I explained to Charlie holding back tears.
What was happening to me? I panicked. After I was rushed to hospital, scans showed my uterus was filled with a large cancerous tumour. I had become the worst-case scenario and urgently needed intensive chemotherapy.
Hooked up to drips and losing my hair, it felt so cruel that all this was caused by the simple act of trying to have a baby. ‘This isn’t what I signed up for,’ I sobbed, trying to stay strong for Charlie but terrified I wouldn’t survive for him, let alone to have another child.
Then, in March 2015, three months after I started treatment, I woke in hospital with terrible back pains. ‘It sounds crazy but it feels like I’m in labour,’ I said. A nurse gave me some painkillers but I couldn’t shake the feeling.
Hours later I had an incredible urge to push. Screaming for help, I passed a huge, angry red tumour. About the size of a pear, looking at it, I felt sick. ‘I’ve never seen anything like this,’ said a doctor, appearing shocked. But as horrifying as it was, there was also a huge sense of relief. The chemo had worked, killing the tumour and now it was gone.
Tests showed my hormones were back to normal and weeks later my chemo treatment came to an end. It took a year to get the all clear with regular blood tests but by March 2016 I was safe to try for a baby again.
At first I was hesitant. My womb had been through so much. Surely there was no way I could get pregnant again. And if I did there
was a chance of another molar pregnancy, something I couldn’t face. ‘We have to try,’ Trent said and, realising how desperately I wanted my rainbow baby, I agreed.
Incredibly, in just a few months I fell pregnant and in February we welcomed baby Indi, complication free. Now, I feel so lucky to have my little family, however hard and long the journey has been.
Before having a molar pregnancy, I’d never even heard of it and I was surprised by the lack of information out there. I’m sharing my story to let other women know there’s still hope after this frightening condition.
Follow Lauren’s blog at www.facebook.com/rainbowsahead_
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