For new mom Leanne Crawley, the delivery of her baby boy should have been a moment of pure joy. But her labor and the weeks following the birth were riddled with unexpected trauma. And, as it turned out, the consequences of having a second unborn child in her womb may well have proved deadly.
Crawley, a 38-year-old stay-at-home mom from Kent, England, was set to deliver her son, Louee, in December of 2016. But when she gave birth to the newborn, the moment likely wasn’t as beautiful for her as it should have been.
Instead, Louee arrived “gray and lifeless,” according to an April 2018 report by British newspaper The Sun. Doctors therefore took the baby away to the antenatal unit, where they ran tests and discovered that the newborn had lost a large amount of blood while in the womb.
And in an April 2018 article by the Daily Mirror, Crawley was quoted as saying, “[The doctors] don’t know exactly what happened, but they think that he bled through me. We didn’t know it at the time.” The trauma left her newborn son struggling to survive, and he spent three more weeks in the hospital as a consequence.
During that time, Louee’s organs had begun to fail from the major blood loss that he had suffered, and so the child was put into an incubator on life support. Doctors would then ultimately place the newborn in a medically induced coma and revive him with donated blood.
That terrifying ordeal didn’t mark the end of Crawley’s troubles, though. When Louee was deemed well enough, the mom took him home from the hospital; just two days on from that joyous moment, however, she was losing a lot of blood.
And after Crawley had returned to the hospital, her doctors thought that they knew why she was bleeding. “Medics operated to remove what they thought was part of Louee’s placenta. It was terrifying,” she is quoted as saying by The Sun.
Little did Crawley know, though, that that operation would barely help her. Instead of healing, Louee’s mom continued bleeding for a further two weeks; as a result, then, she was eventually taken into hospital again. And when doctors performed another surgery, they found the real root of Crawley’s symptoms.
Crawley had suffered a molar pregnancy, which occurs when abnormal cells implant in the womb; this process in turn produces a non-viable embryo. And the growth inside of the full-time mom was both determined to be Louee’s twin and matched the size of a 12-week-old fetus.
Furthermore, the discovery of this growth made it clear that Louee’s delivery was a miracle in and of itself. In most cases, if a woman experiences a molar pregnancy while expecting twins, the abnormal growth consumes the healthy fetus.
However, Crawley had never known that she was expecting twins, despite the fact that the mom-to-be had undergone a routine ultrasound to check on the health of her growing baby. She explained, according to The Sun, “[Doctors] never knew that there were two [babies] in there. All you could see on the scan was Louee. But it turned out that he had been hiding [the other fetus] all along, protecting me.”
Subsequently, Crawley’s doctors surgically removed the growth. “After the operation to remove the molar pregnancy, they asked me if I wanted a funeral and things like that for the twin,” the mother is quoted as saying by the Daily Mirror, adding, “It was a lot to take in.”
But, somehow, the shock of finding out that she had been pregnant with twins – and that one of her babies had almost killed the other – wasn’t the end of Crawley’s story. There was one last side effect of the molar pregnancy for her to face.
Roughly 50 percent of the women who experience a molar pregnancy end up with choriocarcinoma, a uterine cancer that progresses from the development of the abnormal cells. And Crawley not only found out that she had the cancer but that it had also spread to her lungs.
Upon Crawley’s diagnosis, then, doctors immediately started treatment, as they feared that the cancer cells would spread throughout her body. “They said they didn’t want [the cancer] to get to my brain, and I started chemo into my veins that night,” she recalled, according to the Daily Mirror.
From then on, the new mom’s treatment called for chemotherapy for a total of 15 hours each week as well as 20 blood transfusions. Crawley lost all of her hair during the process, too; The Sun would quote her as saying that this experience was “horrible, a constant reminder that I had cancer.”
During her treatment, Crawley even experienced – and survived – a blood clot that made its way to one of her lungs. “That in itself is even rarer than cancer,” the Daily Mirror account reported her as explaining. But the mother continued fighting and, by September 2017, was cancer free.
Even after Crawley had received the all-clear, though, she still struggled to regain her good health after undergoing such intense treatment. According to the Daily Mirror, Crawley’s family had struggled in the wake of her illness, too.
“The whole experience nearly destroyed us all, but I had so much support from my friends and family,” Crawley said, according to the newspaper. She also created a GoFundMe page in the hopes that her loved ones would contribute to a vacation fund; that way, she and her kids could regain a sense of normalcy.
As for Louee, he will have to continue his fight against the effects of the molar pregnancy. His mom wrote on her GoFundMe page that he is “completely deaf, mildly brain damaged and [has] cerebral palsy in his left leg.” Regardless, Crawley has also revealed that every struggle was worth it for her son. “I wouldn’t wish the experience on anyone, but obviously I would take it all again if it was a choice between me and Louee,” the Daily Mirror quotes her as saying.