Pregnancy can be scary enough, so imagine being in Texas mom Margaret Boemer's shoes, when she just was 16 weeks pregnant with her third baby, and a routine ultrasound revealed a sacrococcygeal teratoma, a tumor that was growing from her unborn daughter's tailbone.
"It was very shocking and scary, because we didn't know what that long word meant or what diagnosis that would bring," Boemer told Texas Children's Hospital, according to CNN. She would soon learn that, while a tailbone tumor is rare (about 1 in 35,000 babies are born with one), it is still the most common tumor doctors see in newborns.
She would also learn that sometimes these tumors can be removed after birth. But this was not the case for little LynLee Hope. Dr. Darrell Cass explained to CNN that this tumor was actually growing by sucking blood flow from the growing fetus, and since LynLee was also growing, it was essentially a competition. "And in some instances, the tumor wins and the heart just can't keep up and the heart goes into failure and the baby dies," he said.
This loss would have been all the more heartbreaking since Boemer had already lost LynLee's twin earlier in the pregnancy. Now, termination of this baby—which Boemer didn't want—or fetal surgery were the only options. At 23 weeks, it was decision time. Boemer says, "The tumor was shutting her heart down and causing her to go into cardiac failure, so it was a choice of allowing the tumor to take over her body or giving her a chance at life."
Incredibly, the tumor was nearly as large as LynLee by the time doctors opened Boemer's uterus and operated on her. Dr. Cass explained what this looked like: "Essentially, the fetus is outside, like completely out, all the amniotic fluid falls out, it's actually fairly dramatic. He also said, "It's kind of a miracle you're able to open the uterus like that and seal it all back and the whole thing works."
Twelve weeks later, LynLee was officially born...again, via C-section at 36 weeks. Yet doctors still had to perform another surgery to remove more bits of tumor. Boemer confided that the entire process was brutally scary and painful. But now, LynLee is "perfectly healthy" and her mom says the ordeal was worth every pain!
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Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Find her on Facebook where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of coffee.