On Tuesday, August 14th, at 1:00 p.m., I went into my OBGYN’s clinic to get myself checked out, and walked away two-and-a-half hours later with the biggest shock I have ever known: I was pregnant, and half of my pregnancy had already gone by. I had no symptoms, continued having a period every month, and never experienced any weight gain. But none the less, I was going to be a mother. And I had one night to decide if I was ready to change my life, forever.
It all started about four weeks earlier. I was at work when I started experiencing some very strange bleeding. I had just finished my period two days earlier, and while spotting isn’t a rarity, this bleeding was different. The color wasn’t the normal, vivid red I anticipated, and the consistency was almost clumpy. I immediately called the 24-hour medical advice hotline. They told me that all was well, but it sounded like I was experiencing a miscarriage. Their theory was that I’d recently gotten pregnant, recently enough that I hadn’t yet skipped a period, and my body was simply rejecting it for whatever reason. They assured me that there was no need to rush to the ER like a coworker was telling me, gave me a list of symptoms to look out for, and encouraged me to make an appointment with my OBGYN to ensure that my body had disposed of all the tissue matter.
It took almost two weeks to get hold of someone in my local hospital’s OBYN clinic. The date they gave me for my appointment was two weeks after that. I felt a bit unnverved at the prospect of waiting so long to see a doctor, but the nurse on the line told me that as long as the symptoms I’d been given didn’t pop up, I was in no danger. I let it go, and went on with my life, trying not to overthink or worry.
At 1:20 p.m., I was called into an exam room by a very nice man who I really wish I remembered the name of. He sat and talked with me for a few minutes about what I had been experiencing in the previous weeks. He agreed that it did sound like a miscarriage, in which case he wanted to perform a quick ultrasound to ensure that everything was gone from my body. I got myself settled into the exam chair, and we started the ultrasound.
Almost immediately, his face dropped from the previous cheerful, professional disposition to one of shock and concern. He said to me “Um, Miss B., you have not had a miscarriage. You are still pregnant.” I was surprised to say the least, but thought to myself that I couldn’t possibly be very far along. I hadn’t missed a period, no morning sickness, no sore/tender boobs. I asked how far along I was. He said “I don’t know, that’s what I need to find out. I will be right back.” He pulled the ultrasound wand out of me, and left for a moment.
He came back with a larger ultrasound machine. “You have gone long enough that I need to do an ultrasound on your stomach to get a better idea of how big the baby is.” He squirted the gel on my totally-flat tummy and started pressing very hard, in several different directions, paying very close attention to the screen in front of him. “Miss B., you’ve gone quite a bit…” he said to me, slowly, while he studied the screen. “Okay,” I asked him, trying to stay calm. “How far is a ‘bit’? Ten weeks, or twenty weeks?” “I don’t know, yet, that is what I am trying to figure out. I can tell you this much. You are over fifteen weeks.” I covered my face with my hands, doing my best to remember to breathe, trying to process the information I was being given.
After what seemed like an eternity, he finished the ultrasound, printed the photos, and told me to get dressed. I quickly threw my pants back on, and slumped into the chair next to him at his desk. He took a deep breath and began. “Well, I have been able to determine that you are seventeen weeks, and five days pregnant. I know that this is coming as a shock to you — I am also very shocked because you don’t look pregnant. But I know that you told the nurse when you set this appointment that if you, by some chance, were still pregnant, you would want to explore your options. You need to know, Miss B., the law in Sweden is that the very last day that a woman can elect to have an abortion performed is seventeen weeks, six days. This means that you need to decide now, or at the latest tonight, and begin the process before noon tomorrow. I am so sorry to unload so much on you all at once, but you don’t have much time, now.”
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I was in tears. The shock was too much, and the prospect of having to make such a huge decision was weighing on my chest so heavily that I couldn’t catch my breath. I asked to see the ultrasound photos that he had printed. He looked at me sympathetically and asked if I was sure that was a good idea. I nodded, and asked again to see them. He took the photo strip out of the folder with my name on it, and handed it to me. Immediately, seeing how large the baby already was — not the sea monkey-esque being I had expected — I began to weep softly, though I somehow managed to smile through my shock. I asked if everything was okay with the baby. The doctor assured me that from what he had seen, it was a very, very healthy baby.
I was incredibly relieved to hear that; at least I hadn’t hurt the baby in the last four-and-a-half months, with my bad diet and stressful work atmosphere. I asked if there was a chance I could take the pictures home with me. The doctor started explaining that he could maybe ask for a copy mailed home to me, but stopped mid-sentence and said “You know what, just take these with you” with a very genuine smile.
My memory gets blurry for a bit, here. I know that my kind doctor escorted me to the clinic’s midwife’s office, and that I spoke with her for a few minutes about how the next 72 hours were going to play out for me depending on what I chose. If I chose to terminate the pregnancy, I would need to come back to the clinic tomorrow to take the first pill before noon. I would then need to come back on Friday afternoon, take the second set of pills, and then stay in the hospital overnight Friday, to ensure that I would have medical attention right away if any complications arose.
If I decided to keep the baby, then I should call to the hospital’s maternity clinic, and set an appointment to get a wellness checkup and begin the process of preparing for a baby. They asked if there was anyone they could call for me. I didn’t think to call my boyfriend, Chris, my sister, or anyone. There simply wasn’t logic in that moment. I did manage to ask them to call my boss and let him know that something came up during my doctor’s appointment and he wanted me to stay home for the rest of the week, but I would return to work again the following Monday. They called a taxi to take me home, which I doubt is standard protocol. I think the staff may have been worried about whether or not I could get home in my incoherent state.
Before the taxi came for me, I talked for a very long time with the clinic’s counselor. We discussed my shock, my current predicament, my personal life (Chris and my stepson, Orion), the prospect of parenthood, what an abortion would entail. I am so thankful I talked with her for as long as I did, because it pulled me out of my shock enough to start thinking about what I wanted, on the ride home.
I had the taxi drop me off at my boyfriend’s house. Thankfully, he’d had the day off from work, so he was home when I walked in. He turned off his Playstation when he saw me walk into the bedroom, surprised I was home so early. He asked me how my appointment went. I sat down next to him on the bed, and dropped the bomb. For the next twenty five minutes, he was totally silent. I didn’t push him to talk. Occasionally, I piped up with a tidbit of information or a thought, but then let the silence envelop us again. When he finally did start to speak again, the discussions began:
Were we ready?
Could we make this work, financially?
How would this affect my stepson?
With only four-and-a-half months left until the baby comes, are we going to be able to get everything done in time?
We talked for over four hours in that dark bedroom. Just me and Chris, lost in each other and the enormity of the moment, the emotions choking us both. The idea of becoming a mother didn’t scare me, I was only worried about if the time was right. But the more Chris and I talked, the better I began to feel. We could do this. We just had to set our minds to it and make it work. Abortion, to be completely honest, was never really an option for us.
The idea of becoming a mother didn’t scare me, I was only worried about if the time was right.
The rest of the night was a whirlwind of emotions and excitement. We started making phone calls to my family and his family, letting them know about our “little surprise.” Even more to my surprise, we have gotten nothing but support and an outpour of love from everyone involved.
The more time passes, the more excited I get. It has started to melt in that I am going to be a Mommy! Chris is starting to get there, too. He came home from work that Friday night, saying “Okay, we have to figure out what you can and can’t eat, now. I know you can’t have fish!” He has started rubbing my stomach a little bit, when we are laying down together, and making jokes about me giving birth. We are beginning to talk about how to tell Orion, how we are going to present ourselves as a united front, and make sure Orion feels involved. This won’t be “Pappa and Taylor’s baby,” this will be “our baby” — we’re building our family one day at a time.
Comments on I had less than 24 hours to decide if I wanted to be a parent
WOW, that’s incredible. Congratulations! I can only imagine what a whirlwind it is to find out that far along. As someone who started getting morning sickness at 2 wks pregnant and had a bump by 5, I’ve always wondered how anyone could NOT know till later in the pregnancy. Thank you for sharing your story! Good Luck with everything!
Wouldn’t you be 4 weeks pregnant with morning sickness? 2 weeks would be average ovulation time if you are dating it by LMP.
I just meant I was dealing with pregnancy symptoms practically as soon as I conceived! Particularly with my current pregnancy with twins. I had actually thought I was nearly 2 weeks farther along than I actually was, since the sickness had started so early – but it was because of the extra surge in hormones with 2 babies!
I always say I was about 4 minutes pregnant when I started getting symptoms/a bump. No hiding/not knowing for me…
I was 16 weeks along when I found out I was pregnant! I was also pregnant with twin identical girls! It was a double shock for me! I cried for two days!
Good luck in your pregnancy and with your twins! Take lots of pics and write a diary every few days! It goes by so fast and you’ll be so tired you won’t remember it… it’ll be such a blur! It’ll be so sweet and fun though!
Reading this brought tears to my eyes. I already was 16 weeks along when my husband and I found out we were going to be parents. This brought back so many memories, so many emotions of that whirlwind. I can be instantly back in the OBGYN office where all in one day it was confirmed we were indeed pregnant, 16 weeks along, and we were having a little girl – all in a matter of hours.
It’s now four years later and we have a beautiful, smart and funny little person who brings my days so much joy. Congratulations to your family and thanks for the reminder of how far we’ve come!
Beautiful story. Gave me goosebumps almost from the beginning. It sounds like the care you’ve gotten has been awesome – good luck on your journey!
Something very similar happened to me. I was 19wks when I found out. I had a regular “period” until well into my sixth month of pregnancy. It wasn’t until I started getting “fat” that my husband brought up the thought that I might be pregnant. At only 21 years old, I was not ready for that thought, but he got me a home pregnancy test and asked me to please just take it.
Ten positive home tests later, I found myself in the OBGYN with an ultrasound paddle on my stomach. We found out that I was indeed pregnant, and we were having a boy, and I was 19wks along. It was a bit of a shock to say the least. At the time we were seriously considering termination. We were in Oklahoma and at that time it was pretty difficult to get the procedure. We drove down to Texas to a Planned Parenthood clinic to talk with someone. She talked with me about what the procedure would entail, what I’d need, and what recovery would be like. Not once did she ask why I was considering a termination, she just gave it to me straight, and I’ve always been grateful for that. We had exactly four days to decide what to do, so we headed back to Oklahoma to talk it through.
We decided not to terminate. The baby was healthy despite my taking the pill the whole time and getting pretty drunk on Halloween. I talked with another counselor at the hospital about what motherhood would entail, with my husband right there holding my hand. Now, almost four years later, we have a three and a half year old little boy and a one year old that we probably wouldn’t have if his older brother hadn’t come first.
My life is vastly different than what I had dreamed it would be before I found out I was pregnant, but I wouldn’t change it. I love my boys with everything I am. I know you’ll do the same. Good luck, and I wish you all the best!
There’s an OBM post right there…
This made me cry. I’m really glad that the clinic staff were supportive and compassionate. That’s the way it SHOULD be. I’m so happy for you and wish you and your family a bright, happy future together.
I went to planned parent hood to get a pregnancy test done and an ultasound to find out how far along i was. I had assumed only four or five weeks and i was pretty sure i was pregnant. I laid down on the table and about five seconds into it the person performing the ultrasound had a really funny look on her face. She asked me how far along i thought i was… I said four or five weeks… And she said, uh you are 17 weeks with twins… I almost fainted. It was an unplanned pregnancy to start with, then to find out i was having two at once?!? It was a shock. I bawled all the way home and smoked almost a whole pack of smokes in a little over an hour. It took about a week to recover and another month (of talking to other mothers with twins) to get really excited. By the time they were born i was ready emotionally and physically.
I wish i could go back and time didn’t press forward so fast…
“and smoked almost a whole pack of smokes in a little over an hour.”
This made me lol!! Bad for babies, but I imagine you super needed them at the time, dealing with such a shock! Only on OBM could you say such a thing and not get hammered with judgement 😀
Wow! Thank you so much for sharing your story. Best wishes on your pregnancy and motherhood!
“I asked to see the ultrasound photos that he had printed. He looked at me sympathetically and asked if I was sure that was a good idea. I nodded, and asked again to see them.”
Of course, in many states in the US, you’d be FORCED to look at the images. Once again, Sweden makes me a little embarrassed to be an American.
I do understand that this is a very difficult and emotional time for people, esp. when the whole pregnancy is such a shock! However, I just wanted to point out … the ultrasound images are medical information. I can understand that, in order to make the best medical choices, we should see/hear/consider all the information, even if our emotional state is saying “I don’t want to see/hear it.” I mean, it freaked me out when I had to sign off on DEATH as a possible result of having anesthesia for getting my wisdom teeth out! But I still had to read (or at least glance) over that horrifying list and initial that I had been informed, even though it freaked me out and I would have preferred not to see that list. If I was the doctor/surgeon/dentist, I would kind of want to make sure my patient had seen/heard everything. I mean, medical decisions/events can be so irrevocable … Not judging anybody, just throwing out another perspective here.
Yes. It’s better for a medical professional to make sure we know everything possible about decisions we make, no matter what they are. “This is what happens, if you decide to do XYZ.” Someone might say “Oh, I guess I don’t really want that drug” or that procedure, etc… It is my opinion that it’s better to be over-informed, than slightly under-informed to protect my feelings.
I agree with you on the medical things, but I think in the US the trouble is that it’s being done for emotionally manipulative purposes, very specifically.
I understand this argument and am not trying to sidetrack the comments with a debate, but it also seems emotionally manipulative to lead women to think that those growing cells don’t resemble a human being/baby.
Even after months of attempting to become pregnant, that first positive test was still shocking, and I needed awhile to take it in. So I can only imagine how tough your situation would be to process. It sounds like appropriate counselling services were available when you needed them, which is great.
This happened to me as well – last month I went to my doctor’s office and discovered that I was 21 weeks along. I have PCOS and extremely irregular cycles, hadn’t gained any weight, had no morning sickness, and had absolutely no clue I was pregnant. It wasn’t until the appointment to find out why the medication to improve my cycles wasn’t working that we learned I was pregnant.
As it turned out, I had only one month to come to terms with the fact that I was pregnant before I became a mother. Izzy was born last week, 15 weeks premature, due to a placental abruption (totally unrelated to the fact that I found out so late in the pregnancy, thank god). She is miraculously healthy and doing well in the NICU, and we are learning what it means to be a family.
This happens more than people know! Thank you for sharing your story. It’s so wonderful that you had support and access to care so you could make the best decision for you. Sadly we talk to many women in the US, especially those that do decide to end the pregnancy, who struggle to find both abortion care and emotional support. We could learn a lot from Sweden!
I echo the thanks for sharing your story — but as an aside, you *can* eat fish! There are certain kinds or preparations you shouldn’t eat often, but most kinds and preparations are just fine, and have tons of the good omega oils your baby needs for proper development!
I know I can. It was a joke because my boyfriend is a worrier. 🙂
I read that oysters were good for pregnant moms. One of m favorite foods anyway, I had about 2 dozen before I realized that they meant *cooked* oysters. Ooops.
Everything turned out okay. I did miss my sushi badly though! It was the first thing I ate after leaving the hospital.
Funnily enough in Japan there is no taboo on eating raw fish while pregnant, yet they tell women not to eat beef! I think as long as you’re getting high quality sushi and not that “buy one get one free” from the questionable Chinese place you’re fine 😉
Plus sushi (sashimi) is a great source of protein!
Very much related post: The terrorism of health recommendations for mothers
Thank you all so much for your kind words!
My pregnancy is moving right along, and we are all thrilled. I’m 22 weeks now, and I definitely have a small baby bump! We found out two weeks ago that we are having a little girl, and she’s due to arrive January 20th, 2013.
My bonus son (stepson) is so excited to be a big brother. He is about to turn 4, and he is already plotting out how he will teach his baby sister to drive his car. 😉
I’m laughing because I’m reading this while in the hospital after delivering my own ‘surprise’ munchkin on Monday morning. I found out when I was ~28 weeks…and only because I started to ‘get fat.’ Funny how that happens!
We’re happy, healthy and my boyfriend was *ecstatic* at becoming a father; so far, all is well and new-baby smell is intoxicating.
since this recently popped up on facebook – how about an update?! how is life 4 years later??
i hope all is well!
My biological mother also found out pretty late in the game – although I am pretty sure hers was past the legal abortion timeline for ’87 in NY (she found out at 5 months, so twenty weeks). She gave me up for adoption from birth, and I was placed with my adoptive family at 3 days old (that is how it worked ‘back in the day’). I have always been so grateful that she made the choice she did, which could NOT have been easy. I have no idea how I would handle a surprise pregnancy – other than running down the road screaming haha!
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