All Lauren Knowles wanted was a second child – it was her dream. So, when she took a pregnancy test and realized it was positive, she was unsurprisingly over the moon. But her joy would quickly be shattered by the results of a completely different test.
Just seven weeks into her pregnancy, doctors had to break some horrible news to the 27-year-old mother-to-be. Despite her growing belly, she was experiencing something far different than pregnancy. In fact, it wasn’t a baby that was growing in her womb after all.
Before that day, Knowles and her fiancé Trent had begun to build a happy life together. The couple had a son, Charlie, so Knowles was familiar with the feeling of pregnancy. She had recognized the sensation once again in 2015, taken a test and received the results she wanted: Knowles was expecting her second baby.
Only seven and a half weeks into her second pregnancy, though, she noticed that she was spotting. For some moms-to-be, this would be a cause for concern, as spotting can be a side effect of miscarriage. Knowles, however, didn’t feel any sense of trepidation.
“I wasn’t particularly nervous as I had spotted heavily with my first child,” the former flight attendant told the Daily Mirror. “But doctors decided to do a scan just to double check the pregnancy was all running smoothly.”
However, the routine examination would uncover something completely unexpected: Knowles wasn’t pregnant, and she never was. Instead, she had experienced a molar pregnancy. “I didn’t even know what that was so they gave me a fact sheet – as I was reading it my heart just started to sink,” she said.
Molar pregnancies start out in a similar way to healthy pregnancies, but the fertilized egg doesn’t become an embryo. Instead, it turns into a growth known as a mole. This creates the same hormones as a developing baby, which is why pregnancy tests still read as positive.
But the news for Knowles continued to get worse from there. Not only was she not having a baby, but there was still something growing in her womb: her growth had become a cancerous tumor. She would need to undergo chemotherapy.
Knowles’ low-dose treatment wasn’t strong enough to get rid of her cancer. Instead, the tumor continued to re-form and grow even after her chemotherapy sessions. She tried to retain a sense of normalcy, but her health continued to deteriorate.
“One day I took my son to the park and pushed him on the swings,” she recalled. “I looked down and saw there was blood everywhere. I had to be rushed to the hospital.” It was then that her doctors put her on a much more aggressive chemo treatment plan.
And yet, it wouldn’t be chemotherapy that would rid Knowles of her tumor. In a cruel twist of fate, it would happen much like the end of a pregnancy. In April 2015 Knowles was already in the hospital when she felt a series of extremely painful cramps.
“I had a very strong pain in my stomach, so I got up and took my hospital drip to the toilet,” she said. Much like a mother in labor, she leaned into the pain. “When I sat on the toilet, I felt myself having to push, and it was very painful,” she said.
What happened next was completely unexpected. “After the pain, I stood up and looked down the toilet,” she recalled. Inside, she “saw a massive dark mass in the pan.” Upon further inspection, she realized what laid before her.
It was Knowles’ tumor, the size of a pear, at the bottom of the toilet. “A massive sense of relief came over me and I knew it was the end,” she said. “I felt so thankful that the tumor was finally out of me.”
“The mass was the same size as a baby at 17 weeks, so it was a big tumor to push out with no assistance,” she added. With that incredible effort, Knowles said she felt her “ordeal was finally over.” Sadly, though, doctors would once again deliver her a devastating blow.
Knowles, who always dreamed of having another baby, learned that she would have great difficulty if she tried conceiving in the future. At the very least, they told her, she’d have to wait a year after delivering the tumor to try for a second child.
Miraculously, just three months after her year-long hiatus from trying, Knowles found out she was pregnant again. This time, though, she received the news with much less excitement than before. What if the same thing happened?
“My whole pregnancy I was terrified that it would be molar again, so I wasn’t able to enjoy the feeling of carrying a child,” she said. “When we went to our first scan and saw the baby’s heartbeat I couldn’t stop crying because I knew it was real.”
With that, she could only look forward to the birth of her daughter, Indi, who came into the world via C-section. “She was absolutely perfect,” Knowles said. “I couldn’t believe I had actually had my dream second child, because I never thought it would happen.”
Knowles became a stay-at-home mom who has watched proudly as her story garnered press attention. She hoped it would serve other mothers-to-be to hear about her triumph over heartbreak. “I want to give people hope that even in the worst scenarios, what seems impossible is still possible, while raising more awareness to molar pregnancy,” she said.