"I Didn’t Even Know I Was Pregnant!"
How can you be pregnant and not know it? Here’s one mom’s unbelievable birth story about her surprise pregnancy. Plus, read about totally weird pregnancy symptoms!
An unbelievable surprise
They arrived in the emergency room of Hayward Area Memorial Hospital around 7 p.m. "I'm having the worst period of my life," West told the nurse on duty. After she gave her medical history, another nurse ran an ultrasound wand over her stomach, listening for the noise fibroid tumors make as blood flows through them. West heard a familiar "thump, thump," and her heart sank.
"Well, it could be another tumor, or it could be a baby," the nurse said.
"It's not a baby," West said. Wondering if she'd need surgery again (and when? How soon? Would she have to miss work?), she realized that this, at least, might explain the weight she'd gained recently: She knew that large fibroids can sometimes cause abdominal swelling.
The nurse left to get a doctor. When Brent Kelley arrived, he gave West an internal exam. Then he said the last thing she expected to hear.
"You're eight centimeters dilated."
"What?" West said. "What?!"
A nurse rushed out into the hall to tell Dan: "Great news. Your wife's in labor!"
"My wife? Oh, sorry, you must have the wrong guy," he said.
But she didn't. While Dan stood, shocked, trying to take in what the staff was saying, his wife was trying not to panic. In labor? How could that be? Her mind raced. But she'd been getting her period! They were using condoms!
She noted that the nurses seemed excited for her, but why, when she was about to have a nervous breakdown? She wanted to tell everyone to stop so she could think, but apparently there was no time for that. All she could do to keep herself together was to listen, very intently, to every word the doctor and nurses were saying. As she was wheeled into the delivery area and told what to expect, she tried to take in their breathing instructions, figuring that if she could do everything exactly right, she'd be okay.
By the time she was asking, "Can you repeat everything you just said?" Dan's mother, Linda West, arrived. She'd left her cabin soon after Dan and Jen had. "I'll just see if the kids need anything," she'd told her husband. "It's so boring sitting in a hospital." Not tonight.
She first spotted Dan standing under a sign that read, "Labor and Delivery," and thought, Uh, oh. Jen must have more female issues. Why else would she be seeing a gynecologist? But when she reached her son, he was stone still. The nurse told her, "Jen's about to deliver."
"Deliver what?" Linda said. A second later, the words sank in. She was floored, like Dan, but also scared. In labor? If Jen hadn't known a baby was on the way, how far along could she be? She didn't think this could end well.
Back in the delivery room, things were moving fast and West was almost fully dilated. To her, Linda's voice was the most beautiful sound in the world. She was so relieved: Someone calm! Someone who's done this before!
By 8 p.m., Linda was diving in to give her daughter-in-law a crash course in pushing, and trying to keep her own worries at bay.
The hospital staff were concerned, too, but were sure, at least, that the baby couldn't be dangerously premature, given the size of West's waistline (there'd been no time for a full ultrasound). They gave her antibiotics, since she hadn't been screened for any infections during pregnancy, and braced themselves. No one knew anything for certain about this baby except that the mom hadn't had any prenatal care.
Still too overwhelmed and scared to play the role of supportive dad-to-be, Dan left the coaching up to his mom and walked the halls. Babies were a part of his fuzzy future with Jen, not their life now. Is this for real? Am I going crazy? he wondered as he paced.
Meanwhile, West tried to focus on pushing, but the baby's heartbeat kept dropping, so she was given an oxygen mask, which quickly became her security blanket: Behind it, with the sound of the flowing oxygen drowning out everything else, she felt just a tiny bit calmer. But then she'd put it aside and the noise and craziness would hit her all over again.
Not to mention the pain, which was unlike anything she'd ever felt. It was too late for an epidural, and after pushing for nearly an hour without any relief, she tried to hang on by telling herself it had to end soon: No one could handle this much agony for very long. She was right. Minutes later she gave a last, tearful push, and her baby -- a boy -- was born. At eight pounds even, he was as healthy as could be. West held him and felt like she was in a dream, but then, her little baby looked right at her, and everything changed again. "Okay," she found herself saying to him, "I'm your mommy. And I'm going to take care of you."