After having her first baby, the possibility of being pregnant quite literally never crossed Amy’s* mind. But she was, in fact, in active labor when the doctor first informed her of her new addition that was on its way, and fast.
The popular show on the TLC Network I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant is not a work of fiction. In fact, the act of not being aware of one’s pregnancy is also known as a cryptic or denied pregnancy, and is described in detail in this article on Pregnancy Corner. In the article, Dr. Bryan Jick describes that they are more common than we may think, in that, “one out of every 475 pregnancies is a cryptic pregnancy, unknown to the mother until after the 20th week, and one pregnant woman out of every 7,225 learns of her condition when she goes into labor.”
Amy is one of them.
Thirty-four years old and a new nursing mom, Amy was in fact full term and did not know she was pregnant until she was in labor. She explains, “I had just gotten off birth control for nursing mother’s two months prior to delivery. I was told it would take 2-3 months before I started to get a menstrual cycle again.
But one day she began experiencing severe pain. Originally chalking it up to cramps (as she wasn’t bleeding and she had bad cramps during menstruation her entire life. “I woke up the next day still in tremendous pain. I made an appointment to go see my gynecologist because I thought something was wrong and wanted him to check me out,” Amy says. And at that visit, “That’s when he told me during the exam that I was 4 centimeters dilated and in labor.”
Amy was in disbelief, adamant she was not in labor. “I was in absolute shock and crying,” she says. “It took me quite a while before I was okay even after giving birth. I had no morning sickness, no movement or kicking. My first child was a serous kicker,” she recalls. She had also been losing weight, not gaining weight as one would expect in a pregnancy. “I lost 60 pounds during the pregnancy,” she says.
Amidst the shock of the life changing news that she was in labor, she had to break the news to her partner, who shared in the emotions. “He was in shock like me,” she says. “He could not believe that I did not know I was pregnant.” To add to the high stress surprise situation, it was also his first day at a new job. “I had to call him to let him know that I was not only apparently pregnant but also on labor.”
Thankfully, the delivery went smoothly. Amy opted for a v-back, as she was “not a fan of the C-section the first time around.” She was also dead set against a natural child birth and recalls, “It was rather difficult to push on the epidural because you can’t feel anything, but I was able to do it.”
Amy welcomed a healthy baby girl who is now three years old (her older sister is four). Ultimately Amy has decided, “I am not having any more children. I am lucky to have them, since I lost my first daughter when I was 5 and a half months pregnant.”
While many moms of cryptic pregnancies might have to worry about harmful behaviors or exposures during the time they did not know they were pregnant, Amy didn’t really have to. “I was breastfeeding most of the pregnancy so I was not having anything that could be damaging.” While experiencing the whirlwind, Amy recalled being “told by the nurses at the hospital that apparently it is very common for women to not know they were pregnant,” adding that they told her, “all kinds of stories.”
Amy’s story is surely one that she will never forget.
*The names have been changed to protect the privacy of our source.