Yes, it IS possible to not know you were pregnant

Guest post by nikki cupcake
King Baby
Photo by Thomas Hawk, used by CC license.

August 16, 2009 is my son Aiden’s one month birthday. It’s crazy to think about all the things that have happened in the last month. Some scary, some absolutely cute. I’ve been meaning to put the story of his birth down on paper, but been scared to think about it.

I want something I can show to my son once he’s old enough to start asking questions. I hope this will help others in my situation to not feel ashamed (which I still do) or embarrassed.

I was sick for the whole week before my son was born. At first I thought I had given myself food poisoning, then I just thought it was bad cramps and they’d go away with time. The last WebMD self diagnosis was a UTI.

Believe it or not, it’s kind of easy to not realize you’re pregnant.

I eventually left work early due to pain and horrible discomfort and made my way to the hospital with my parents by my side. The ER was slow that day but another girl feeling the same discomforts I was had just rolled in during my wait. It turned out she had kidney stones. At that point I decided I had kidney stones too, and then my name was called.

The admitting nurse asked me the normal questions and prepped me to see a doctor. Soon I was sitting in a hospital bed being poked at. The doctor said, “Well, we’re waiting on blood tests to come back and we’ll get you out of here soon.” I liked that idea, but I wanted to know what was wrong with me.

Before the blood tests came back they decided to do an ultrasound. At first they found nothing. The second ultrasound found a little something to cause concern but no one would tell me what.

Within seconds of looking at the results, the doctor ordered me to be whisked me away to another ultrasound room. At that point I decided I most definitely had kidney stones.

The woman started the ultrasound and said, “Yeah, there is a heart beat.” My doctor in the ER asked how far along I was, and that’s when it all started to sink in. The ultrasound tech said 38 to 39 weeks.

I kind of understood what they were saying, and I soon realized I was going to need to tell my parents they were going to be grandparents that very day. The doctor let me break the news to my parents, and then I was being taken to deliver.

By the time I made it to the delivery room I was 8 centimeters along and things weren’t looking good. I was experiencing horrible pre-eclampsia and the baby’s heart rate kept going down.

At the same time, I had all different hospital staff members asking me a bunch of questions. The nurses were prepping me to give birth naturally but, to my delight, I had to have a c-section. They figured the baby wouldn’t make it though a vaginal birth.

Soon I was in the operating room and that’s when things got even scarier. The number of doctors in the room freaked me out, but they were all there to be prepared for any problems my baby could have. The anesthesiologist really helped me through the next hour or so.

He explained everything going on to me and broke down what the doctors did as it was happening. After my son was delivered, he didn’t cry and wasn’t breathing. That’s when the room got quiet. The staff worked quickly, though, and we soon all heard a scream.

The hardest thing that whole day for me was telling my boyfriend he was a father. He’s a filmmaker and was working on his first solo project. He had called me right before I had the baby and I didn’t tell him because I didn’t want to ruin his day. At 8 pm, two hours after our son was born, I told him. It didn’t hit him right away. Just like my parents and I, he kind of just said, “Ok.”

I’ll never forget the first time I saw my son. It was four days after his birth and my boyfriend was there to support me. I was so scared to see Aiden for the first time.

I was afraid of getting attached if he took a turn for the worse. I was also very scared to see him because he was all hooked up to tubes and wires and I thought it was all my fault. He had swallowed meconium and had an infection.

As soon as I held him I was attached. Nine days after his birth, Aiden came home and it’s been a joy since. Where most women get nine months to get ready to become mothers, I only had nine days. It definitely made it more interesting.

Now, after reading this I bet you have a lot of questions. I’ve spent the last month answering them and probably will be for the rest of my life. Believe it or not, it’s kind of easy to not realize you’re pregnant. I didn’t gain an ounce or eat more than I usually did. I never felt the baby kick.

I worked full time up until he was born, so being tired was normal. I had spot bleeding all throughout my pregnancy, but I thought it was just an irregular period. All other symptoms of pregnancy I just brushed off, things like swollen feet (I’m always on my feet at work). I thought morning sickness was just the flu.

One month after all that, as I sit and write this I’m looking at one active little boy. He’s huge now. He’s 22 inches long and well over ten lbs. Aiden’s happy, healthy, and is doing something new every day we don’t expect. Me on the other hand? I’m just a bit tired and getting used to this mommy thing. The only thing I worry about is how much time I have before I’m running after my little monster.

Comments on Yes, it IS possible to not know you were pregnant

  1. Wow! Having had two children myself I cannot imagine not knowing but it happens. Each and every pregnancy is different. I've even heard of women who don't realize they are having their second child and had a totally noticeable first pregnancy. Don't be hard on yourself. You have been given a wonderful gift! Enjoy him 🙂

  2. This happened to a girl I went to high school with and I think both of you are very strong people to accept this turn of events and work with it. You'll do a great job. He's adorable.

  3. I've been the nurse in this situation before, and am surprised at the different ways women cope with this life changing news. You used your 9 days well, and Aiden is so lucky to have you as his mommy 🙂

    • nope no medical conditions but what every doctor i saw said it came down to a number of things being:

      – before i had aiden i was always a bit on the heavy side my weight never changed. since aiden i've dropped quite a few dress sizes to a size i can never remember being.

      – i had my gallbladder out exactly a year before and screwed up my whole body so while i was still adjusting to a new digestive track all of a sudden i was pregnant

      – i didn't have medical insurance at the start of all this because i had my own business so i didn't get to see a doctor in a year until i started my new job and had health insurance (which i work for a totally awesome company!). my insurance hadn't started till 10 days before i had aiden (THANK GOD!)

      – i had no tell tale signs about having a baby. so i'm young (22 to be exact) i wasn't on planing on having kids for 8 more years and didn't know what it was like to be pregnant in the first place

      • me too! i found out like an hour before my son was born… i went to the hospital for hip pain with my mom, and i was just about to get x rays done when they found out through blood tests… i got in an ambulance, was rushed to another hospital, and had just enough time to get an epidural… four pushes and he was out, and i took him home 2 days later

  4. Congratulations. I'm enjoying the grace with which you appeared to approach your surprising motherhood. It sounds like you've had good support, which also helps. 🙂

  5. It's really interesting to know this really happens (not knowing you were pregnant until the ER). BTW the link to your site doesn't seem to be working. WOuld love to keep tabs on you and your litte one

  6. My bio-mom didn't know she was pregnant until she was five months along… and people think THAT was just denial. People don't seem to understand that all pregnancies are different, and yes you CAN bleed throughout a pregnancy!

    Anyways, Congratz! You sound like a beautiful, insightful, strong mommy!

  7. Pre-eclampsia is so dangerous! I remember how the pain that comes with it was worse than giving birth for me. Geez what a terrible way to find out you're pregnant! I'm really glad you got yourself to a hospital and had a very happy ending! Congratulations!

  8. Wow that's a fantastic story! Some friends of ours were travelling around the world and when they got back discovered they were 8 months pregnant (just put down the slight weight gain to eating out a lot!). It was a bit crazy for them when they discovered she was 8 months along.. as they had no jobs to go back to when they returned and they'd been living in different parts of the country as well!! In that one month somehow they managed to get lucky with finding a place to live and an income to support themselves!

  9. i'm so glad with the response to my story! whenever i read posts about unknown pregnancies and i read the replies its usually horrible mean comments. it sucks and makes you feel feel ashamed and you shouldn't be! thanks ariel for making a great place for awesome moms to open up and tell their stories!

  10. i was nearly 7months pregnant when i found out i was pregnant w/my daughter. like you, i had intermittent bleeding, which i took for an irregular period as i'd never really had a true regular period. i did gain weight but it was an all over weight gain and it was also (at least in my mind) because i was working 2 full-time jobs and eating multiple meals because of my crazy sleeping habits. i never had any real cravings and i never had any morning sickness. the only reason i even took the pregnancy test is because a couple people had asked me when i was due during that week prior, so i took the test mostly to prove them wrong. ha! my now-husband and I were totally shocked but we definately are thankful for our sweet/crazy kid that we got a little sooner than we planned. but you're right, lots of people make awful comments about people like us being stupid but i always try to remember that there are other people like me out there. i'm working hard not to be ashamed about it but am not always successful. thanks so much for sharing your story and keep enjoying your sweet son!!

  11. I'm also one of the mamas that didn't know she was pregnant. It can happen. I also had no tell-tale signs about my pregnancy. I didn't find out I was pregnant with my now two year old daughter until three hours before she was born. It was amazing, scary, and shame-filled. Everyone thought I had lied about the whole thing, and tried to tell me exactly what my new life plan should be. My daughter was born during the end of my fall term in college. My now fiance (my little girl's daddy) and I graduated later that spring. I'm back in school work on a Masters in Teaching and he has a great job working on iPhone apps.

    I still feel a lot of guilt, and I'm not sure quite what to do with it. You see, my daughter (named Delilah Joyce) was born around 33 weeks gestation. She was 4lbs 6oz when she was born. I'm a young mommy too (now 23) and, I guess, feel like I should have known. Like knowing might have prevented her premature birth.

    So, long story short. I truly know how you feel. We are birds of a feather, and it DOES happen. People need to put away their judgments and open their minds. Here's a BRAVO to you 🙂

    • thats awesome to hear you're doing well! i have my share of fears with aiden such as if he'll develop normally. if he has any issues as he gets older id never be able to forgive myself.

      when aiden was born they said i was 38 weeks and 4 days he was 8 lbs 5.5 oz 22 in long

  12. This is really amazing! I was 3-4 months along before I realized I was pregnant with my first and I have had friends who didn't realize they were pregnant until 7-8 months along, and I know it was a huge, fast adjustment for them… I really cannot imagine the personal strength it would take to find out about a pregnancy minutes to hours before the baby arrives! Congratulations on your baby, he's absolutely beautiful!

  13. It's true, this is totally possible and happens all the time. 1 in 5000 women have a totally unknown pregnancy….which is a substantial number if you think about how many women are in the world. This same thing just happened to a friend of mine…she went to the hospital with abdomen pain, thinking her appendix had burst or something…and she was going into labor with a full term child….after being told she could never conceive, no less. Her daughter was normal birthweight, totally healthy. It's a strange miracle to be sure…but, definitely not impossible in the least.

  14. Thank you for this post! My mom was 5 months along when she found out she was having me, back in 1979, and I, for the most part, turned out okay. 🙂 And a year after my birth, she had my brother (she found out she was preggers with him at 6 weeks).

    My mom had convinced herself that she couldn't get pregnant, so any signs she might have had were brushed off — spotting (which she had always had a light period), plus she had no nausea and very little weight gain (up until that point). I wonder if that could be genetic?

    • maybe….

      my mom knew she was pregnant with me the whole time(she was actually trying to have a baby) , but when i think about everything that went down we had very similar pregnancies. we both never showed and i lost a total of 45 lbs from conceiving till birth my mom lost almost 80lbs

      i've also talked to a lot of people who have similar stories to me and their mothers had similar stories too

    • See, now I’m worried because my mom was told that she couldn’t conceive, but was fortunate to find out about her pregnancy early on (even though it was kind of a fluke). She gained a total of 15 lbs with me, and I was almost 10 of those. She popped, but not a whole lot (larger frame). I know it always drives doctors nuts when they ask if I could be pregnant and I reply with “Sure, I didn’t take a pregnancy test today, and that may not even be accurate if it’s a recent pregnancy.” If I’m not trying to get pregnant why would I test all the time? And even so I don’t really buy into the idea (that someone told me once) that married women test regularly “just to be sure.” I can see how it’s possible. If you’re not looking for it, it’d be hard to see.

  15. I was told I’d never conceive, and used protection to boot. I didn’t find out I was pregnant until I was 5 months along. Since I’m young, most people assumed I was hiding my pregnancy or ashamed. Unfortunately, my own mother is part of that crowd, and still accuses me of “lying” to her and keeping secrets. I just wanted to mention that I found your story inspiring.

  16. Absolutely wonderful. I have a special needs son and when people ask me how I handle it I always say that motherhood is about rising to the occasion. You’ve done that and so have so many other women as I can see from the comments left. It’s inspiring. I love that your son is happy and healthy and that you two are more than just coping.

  17. Congrats! My granny was told she could never conceive, and so she and my grampy adopted two kids. She then found out that she was pregnant with my mom at about 6 months gestation. It totally happens!

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  19. this happened to me! i went to the hospital with stomach pains…the first doctor suspected a uti or kidney stones so did a urine test( and felt all around my abdomen!) which came back positive for pregnancy. she then queried ectopic pregnancy and send me to a different hospital for an ultrasound. on arrival there i had an ultrasound and was told i was not only pregnant but almost full term ( they think he was over 37 weeks) and i was 4cm dilated by this stage.
    20 hours later i had my baby boy in my arms and 3 days after that i left the hospital! and now i have an almost 2 year old.
    people comment on how they cant believe i did it, and i often explain it as a sink or swim situation and i chose to and was lucky enough to have the support to swim.
    enjoy your beautiful gift xxxx

  20. I find stories like this comforting. I’m in my seventh month and I knew from the beginning because we were trying and I was tracking and testing and everything… but sometimes, even if you know you’re pregnant, you just don’t *feel* pregnant, and that can be worrisome. It’s comforting to remind myself that some people really go through an entire pregnancy without knowing it, so having some days where it just doesn’t seem like I’m expecting should be within the realm of normal.

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