My hormones were feeding my unborn baby — and a melon-sized cyst
By Brooke Steinberg,
A pregnant mom discovered her baby wasn’t the only thing growing in her stomach.
Eve Lincoln from Hudson Valley, New York, found out her unborn baby was sharing a space with a melon-sized cyst — and her hormones were feeding both the baby and the cyst.
When she was seven weeks pregnant with her third child, an ultrasound showed a small cyst on her right ovary — but there was no apparent reason to be concerned initially.
Doctors advised against surgery to remove the cyst since it could potentially add risk to the baby and it wasn’t causing any issues at the time.
However, Lincoln’s pregnancy hormones began to “feed” the cyst over the next few weeks, causing it to grow and make her baby bump “much bigger and rounder than it should have been.”
“I started getting worried as time went on because it was growing,” she said. “It went from nine to almost 13 centimeters but they said, ‘We don’t recommend surgery during pregnancy, so you will have to have surgery six weeks after the baby.’”
Lincoln said that doctors told her if she started experiencing bad pain they would address the situation then, but she never thought it would come to that.
The 36-year-old collapsed in pain when she was 23 weeks pregnant, experiencing a cramp in her side that felt like a “dull stabbing” and wouldn’t subside.
After 24 hours, Lincoln called her doctor and went in for an ultrasound the next day — which showed that the cyst swelled to 17 centimeters in just one week.
“It grew so big that it looked like another baby sac but you could tell that there was nothing in it so it was clear that there was a baby in one and not the other,” Lincoln, who is now 26 weeks pregnant, shared.
Doctors informed her that the cyst weighed four pounds, while the baby weighed barely two pounds at the time.
Lincoln was rushed to Montefiore St Luke’s Cornwall Hospital, Newburgh, for tests to make sure the cyst was not cancerous.
“It was alarming to see how fast it had grown and of course when they kept suggesting that it could be cancer that scared me,” she said.
An MRI showed that it was filled with blood and fluid, so she was transferred to a gynecological specialist at Westchester Medical Center, Valhalla, for emergency surgery to remove the mass on Jan. 9.
“It was very frightening when they explained to me the risk to your baby when you have surgery because it could trigger labour or cause distress to the baby,” Lincoln said.
She was awake during the surgery with a spinal pain block rather than undergoing anesthesia to reduce any harm to the baby.
Both Lincoln and her baby thankfully made it through the risky two-hour operation, but NICU specialists were kept on standby just in case the baby needed to be delivered prematurely.
Prior to the surgery, she was required to sign papers that said she understood anything that could be wrong with the baby if it had to be delivered at 24 weeks.
Lincoln now has a five-inch cut from her belly button down from the operation.
“They had to give me a larger cut than normal because if you’re not pregnant they can push your stomach out of the way but you can’t really shove a baby in the uterus because you don’t want to make it contract,” she explained.
She’s now waiting on test results to confirm that the cyst was definitely benign before she gets the all-clear.
Lincoln hopes to warn other expectant mothers to check for and treat ovarian cysts before getting pregnant or as soon as they become aware of it.
“If you know you have an ovarian cyst before getting pregnant, don’t get pregnant until you resolve the cyst or have it removed,” she warned.
“It’s very likely to grow tremendously throughout your pregnancy because of the hormones so you might end up having to have emergency surgery during your pregnancy like I did.”
“If you’re told in the very beginning of your pregnancy that you have a large cyst I would push back and ask that they take it out right after the first trimester while it’s still a manageable size, before it’s huge and painful,” she added.
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