Bride to be Lucy was devastated to be told her dream wedding baby had never existed. But there was worse to come when she was told the pregnancy cells had turned cancerous on the morning of her big day.
Now after a dramatic start to married life, following chemotherapy, Lucy is hoping they can start trying for a baby again soon.
The wedding had taken us two years to plan and save for. Me and my fiancé Chris were tying the knot at a luxury hotel, followed by a reception for 150 friends and family.
I’d bought a beautiful dress costing more than £1,000 and we’d booked a honeymoon to Mexico. The big day was set for 16 September 2011 and everything was going to perfect. In the meantime, there was one other thing we were planning for too – a baby.
Me and Chris had been together for more than eight years and if he’d had his way, we would have started trying much earlier. But I loved my job as a teacher trainer and it had never felt like the right time. But two months before the wedding, my thoughts turned to having a family. I couldn’t get baby thoughts out of my mind.
‘Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could announce my pregnancy at the wedding,’ I said to Chris.
Even if I fell pregnant right away, I would only be a few weeks gone when the big day arrived. I wouldn’t have to have my dress altered and it wouldn’t stop me traveling to Mexico.
‘Let’s go for it,’ Chris said.
I came of the pill, fully expecting it to take a while for me to fall pregnant. But within just a couple of weeks, I noticed that my breasts were swollen and tender.
Could it be?
I took a pregnancy test and it showed up negative.
Just to be on the safe side I did another test, then another. Finally, the fourth test showed that I was pregnant.
Chris was over the moon.
We agreed not to tell anyone apart from my Mum. But Mum was so excited she wanted to tell my nan and granddad.Then we decided it was unfair to leave Chris’ family in the dark. Soon the whole family knew.
It’s never easy to keep news like that to yourself.
By the beginning of August I started to experience terrible morning sickness.
Mum assured me that it was normal. Two weeks on, I took part in a charity walk. I noticed then how under the weather I was. I usually felt so fit and full of energy, now I felt drained and exhausted. No wonder really I was planning a wedding and expecting a baby.
Only when I noticed a bit of bleeding, I rang the early pregnancy unit at my hospital. They assured me that everything I was experiencing was normal, advised me to take a pain killer and get some rest. It wasn’t easy with the wedding just weeks away but I did as I was told.
The following week I went to see the midwife and we decided that I must be four to six week pregnant. That meant the 12 week scan was due during our honeymoon. We decided to book it in for when I returned. Meanwhile, my due date was given as 3 April 2012.
Suddenly, the pregnancy was feeling very real. I started wondering whether I was carrying a boy or girl, thinking of names.
Sharing our news with guests at the wedding was going to make it the best day ever. I couldn’t have planned it any better.
But when I had a heavier bleed one Friday evening, Chris and me decided to go to hospital. I was terrified that I was experiencing a miscarriage. They didn’t have scanning equipment at A&E so I was sent home and told to wait and see. Nothing happened so I clung to the hope that our wedding baby was OK, but I was still worried, so I went back to hospital for an early scan.
By then I was six to eight weeks pregnant. When the nurse did the scan she wouldn’t let me look at the screen.
My heart sank. ‘Please tell me my baby is OK,’ I asked.
‘I just need to get another nurse to come and look at it,’ she said. ‘Is my baby OK,’ I pleaded.
After the second nurse had seen the screen, the first had a word with me.
‘I’m so sorry,’ she said. ‘We can’t see anything on the screen but there is some dark shadowing around the womb that isn’t right.’
‘Have I lost my baby?,’ I croaked.
She brought in a consultant who told me that I’d actually experienced a molar pregnancy.
He explained it briefly by saying that there was no fetus but my hormones had gone to pregnancy levels. That’s why I’d experienced the morning sickness and tiredness. The dark shadows were cells that had stuck to the lining of the womb. I’d have to undergo an operation to have them removed.
I didn’t cry because I was in such shock. It was hard to take in that I hadn’t had a miscarriage because there had been no baby there to begin with.
I couldn’t understand what was happening. Wondered whether I’d had a phantom pregnancy. Had my own intense longing to be pregnant for the wedding led to my body thinking it was?
The wedding was just two weeks away. What was I going to tell everyone?
I felt so stupid. Was this somehow my fault? Had I pushed myself too hard doing the charity walk? I thought back to the glass of wine I’d had the night after I found out I was pregnant. Was it that?
Or had I simply made up the pregnancy?
Back at home I did some research on the internet. I found out that a molar pregnancy is when a mass of abnormal placenta cells grow within the womb instead of a baby. A full molar pregnancy happens when two sperm enter the egg instead of one. These cells, which arecancerous, can stick to the lining of the womb and if they are not dealt with they can eventualy spread to places around the body, including the lungs.
So not only had I not really been pregnant, I was at risk of having cancer too.
Why had this happened to me? Why now before our wedding? What was I going to tell the wedding guests?
I wished I hadn’t told the whole family. If I couldn’t understand what had happened to me, how was I going to explain it to them?
If I’d had a miscarriage at least people would get what had happened. At least there would be something to mourn.
I felt like I was grieving for something – a baby- that hadn’t even been there.
I had the operation to remove ‘the mole’ a week before the wedding. The cells were sent away for analysis. The hospital agreed to rush through the results so I’d have them before me and Chris left for our honeymoon.
We considered postponing the wedding. The operation had left me weak and heartbreakingly I was still experiencing symptoms as if I was in the early stages of pregnancy.
That was the hard part. My body thinking that a baby was there when it wasn’t.
But I decided to go ahead with my big day. After all, we’d spent two years planning it. And, in the back of my mind, there was a hope that the consultant had been mistaken. Maybe I’d suffered a miscarriage after all.
I kept myself busy by arranging the flowers and perfecting the final details of our big day.
On the morning of the wedding, I’d just finished decorating all the tables at the hotel when my Mum came to have a word with me. I’d asked my consultant to go through the results of the biopsy with her.
She explained that I had experienced a full molar pregnancy. She told me to sit down. Then she dropped the bombshell. The cells were cancerous and although the mole had been removed, I’d need to be monitored closely when I returned from my honeymoon. I wasn’t out of the woods yet.
‘When your hormone levels go back to normal that will show that you have none of these cells left in your body,’ Mum explained.
I was shaking. No bride expects to hear the word ‘cancer’ on the their wedding day. First we’d lost our wedding baby and now this. It was too much to take in. Especially with the ceremony hours away and hundreds of guests to entertain.
Having all this to focus on kept me strong. There was no way I could breakdown on today of all days.
But I had to tell Chris. We couldn’t get married without him knowing they’d found cancer cells.
For the duration of the wedding, I managed to push the news to the back of my mind and enjoy my big day, just as I’d planned. In a way, the vows me and Chris made to each other felt more meaningful. Especially when we pledged to love each other in sickness and in health.
None of our guests knew. I’d made mum promise to keep it to herself. I wanted them all to enjoy our day not feel sorry for me.
It was only when all the guests had gone home that our thoughts turned to the horrendous news we’d been given. I still felt so tired and poorly and my hormones made me feel really tearful.Forget passion, I collapsed in my new hubby’s arms an emotional wreck.
Despite what the doctors had found, I’d been given the all clear for the honeymoon.
I’d been looking forward to getting away with Chris and lying on a beach. Our honeymoon should have been bliss, but being miles away from home knowing there could be more caner cells lurking in my body made me feel homesick like a child. Mum had been so supportive and I wanted her with me.
When another new bride walked past proudly displaying her bump I broke down. ‘ It should be us,’ I wept to Chris.
When I got back home, I started having weekly blood tests to monitor my hormone levels. If they continued to be high it would indicate that there were still cancer cells hidden in my body. It was bad news. After six months my levels were still falling and rising, showing that things weren’t the way they should be.
In April this year – the month the baby was due – I started chemotherapy. But after the second dose, I had a bad reaction and ended up in A&E with a suspected blood clot.
Now I’m back to having my hormones levels regularly monitored. My body still thinks it’s in the early stages of pregnancy. I can sleep for 12 hours and still wake up tired. Walking up a flight of stairs leaves me gasping for breath. But I’ve kept up work, tried to carry on as normal.
The hardest thing about this whole experience is hearing how the women who fell pregnant around the same time as me have given birth. Old school friends, friends of friends. It breaks my heart that they now have their babies and I haven’t got mine and never had. Now the people who fell pregnant after me are due anytime. The misery goes on.
And I don’t know what the future holds for us. If and when my hormone levels return to normal it will be another six months before me and Chris can start trying for a baby again. It keeps me going to know that lots of women who’ve experienced a molar pregnancy go on to have healthy children afterwards. I’d be extremely unlucky for this to happen again. And there’s no reason why it should.
And although the cells are cancerous, they do not spread quickly. I have every reason to be positive about the future.
I know Chris feels bad because things went wrong on his side. After all, if we hadn’t tried to conceive before the wedding, I wouldn’t be going through this now. It’s difficult for him because he feels like it should be him going through this and not me. And sometimes when he jumps out of bed to go to the gym before work, I do feel jealous of all that energy he has.
But we’re both determined not to let his affect our relationship or let any resentment towards each other kick in.
I’ve learnt early on in our marriage that not everything in life goes to plan, but hopefully one day we’ll have the family we always dreamed of.