A mother has revealed she risked her life and that of her unborn child after a sinister black mass was spotted during her 12-week scan.
Mickayla Jordan-Smyth was initially told she had a partial molar pregnancy which could become cancerous – jeopardising her life and that of her baby.
Yet the care home worker, 30, refused to have a termination.
A molar pregnancy occurs when the foetus does not form properly in the womb and the baby struggles to develop. A lump of abnormal cells grow in the womb instead of a healthy foetus.
Alongside worrying about the health of her unborn baby, Mickayla was told she could need chemotherapy after giving birth.
Then at 28-weeks pregnant, Mickayla suffered a placental abruption – a life-threatening condition where the placenta starts to separate from the uterus.
However, she discovered that, after spending the whole pregnancy afraid she had cancer, she actually had a rare placental abnormality which can be confused with a molar pregnancy.
Mickayla Jordan-Smyth, from North Yorkshire, was told she had a partial molar pregnancy
She was told her condition could become cancerous – posing a risk to herself and her daughter Raine
But the 30-year-old now care home worker refused to have a termination
WHAT IS PMD?
Placental mesenchymal dysplasia (PMD) is a benign condition that can be confused with a molar pregnancy by ultrasound scanning and gross examination.
It is characterised by enlargement of the placenta with multiple bunch of grape-like vesicles.
The condition is often underdiagnosed and underreported case due to lack of awareness.
Cases are rare and are said to occur in just 0.02 per cent of pregnancies.
PMD usually features a normal foetus. However, it brings a high risk of fetal growth restriction and intrauterine foetal death (IUFD).
Mickayla, from Thornaby-on-Tees, North Yorkshire, said: ‘I knew I was taking a big risk by keeping going with the pregnancy, but I really felt whatever is going to be, will be.
‘Poor Craig was petrified that he might lose us both – the baby to the partial molar pregnancy and me if the mass turned out to be cancerous.’
‘I saw black holes’
Mickayla, who is also mother to her and her husband Craig’s son, Lenny, six, and Lewie, 13, from a previous relationship, had been excited to see their baby for the first time when she went to the scan at Middlesbrough’s James Cook University Hospital.
‘Suddenly, the atmosphere in the room was filled with tension, as the sonographer said she was worried about what she could see on the scan,’ she said.
‘Turning the screen towards us, I saw black holes all over it, where the baby was supposed to be, like grapes on a stalk.
Mickayla is also mother to her and her husband Craig’s son, Lenny, six (left), and Lewie, 13 (right), from a previous relationship
She says her other pregnancies were straight forward, so didn’t expect any problems
‘I couldn’t even really see much of the foetus and the sonographer said it could be something called a molar pregnancy.
‘I’d never heard of it, but she explained how it happens when a lump of abnormal cells grows in the womb, instead of a healthy foetus, which in really rare cases can turn out to be cancerous.
‘My other pregnancies were straight forward, so I expected nothing less with this one. Both my other kids were over 8lb each and I had no problems with them at all.’
‘I sobbed hysterically’
Sent to see a specialist, it was confirmed that a partial molar pregnancy was the most likely explanation for the mass growing beside her baby.
A rare genetic accident, it normally happens when an egg is fertilised by two sperm and develops with two sets of chromosomes from the father, instead of one female and one male.
In around three per cent of cases, molar tissue can develop into a cancer known as choriocarcinoma.
Mickayla said: ‘I was heartbroken. Although I was only 13 weeks pregnant, this baby was loved.
Raine, pictured here at 22 weeks, was born at 28 weeks weighing just 2lb 4oz
Mickayla says the doctors were amazed that the baby hadn’t already died because of the rate at which the mass was growing
‘I’d seen the little heartbeat on the screen, seen its kicks and it already meant so much. I sobbed hysterically when I got home.
‘But I was adamant I was going to have my baby and do what I could for it, even if it meant I may be unwell, too.
‘Still, it was very difficult, as the nurses kept telling us how dangerous it was and everything online said it was high-risk, as the baby had limited room to grow, because of the mass.’
Closely monitored, Mickayla and Craig, who discovered they were expecting a girl at 14 weeks, were shocked at each weekly scan, when they saw the black growth sitting next to their baby.
‘It was just growing and growing,’ Mickayla said. ‘Even the doctors were amazed that the baby hadn’t already died because of the rate at which it was getting bigger.
‘At the 26-week scan I couldn’t even see the baby. All that was visible was a mass of black holes.
‘I kept thinking the horrible mass was going to smother her and that she wouldn’t make it out alive.’
During her 10 week stay in hospital, baby Raine experienced a minor brain bleed and a heart problem – but has made a full recovery
‘I thought I had lost her’
Mickayla had been trying to prepare herself needing cancer treatment after giving birth.
‘I was thinking, ‘If this placenta is cancerous, it’s going to be really big now.
‘I knew the doctors would test it, after the baby was born, to find out and dreaded the chemo I might need.’
Then on June 27, after going to the hospital after her feet and face swelled up, she discovered her placenta had detached.
Raine was delivered by caesarian who Mickayla says ‘was tiny, but absolutely perfect’
Raced to theatre, she was given a general anaesthetic, while her baby, who she called Raine, was delivered by caesarian, weighing just 2lb 4oz.
She recalled: ‘Craig missed the labour, as it only took 15 minutes.
‘When I woke up, I didn’t expect to have a baby. I really thought I had already lost her.
‘I was screaming, ‘I know my baby has died,’ and burst into tears when they said she was alive.’
Meeting her baby girl 17 hours later, Mickayla could not believe she had survived.
‘She was tiny, but absolutely perfect,’ she recalled.
Then she was told she that rather than a partial molar pregnancy, she had a benign condition called a placental mesenchymal dysplasia (PMD) – a rare placental abnormality.
‘Raine is an absolute miracle and I can’t count my blessings enough,’ says Mickayla
During her 10 week stay in hospital, baby Raine experienced a minor brain bleed and a patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) – a kind of heart problem – but neither has caused her any ongoing problems.
Mickayla continued: ‘During Raine’s stay in hospital, I received a letter confirming that I had PMD while I was pregnant. I was over the moon.
‘It is incredibly rare, but it’s important people know about the condition, so it isn’t mixed up with a molar pregnancy.’
Now 21 weeks old and happy and healthy, Raine is getting on famously with her brothers.
‘I can hardly believe she had so many terrible odds stacked against her,’ added Mickayla.
‘She’s amazing and has started smiling and giggling.
‘Raine is an absolute miracle and I can’t count my blessings enough.’
Bliss, a charity for babies born premature and sick, supported Mickayla by providing access to information and support services.
Jordan-Smyth, 30, and her husband, Craig, 27, an asbestos remover