"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!
How did Jen miss her pregnancy?
What everyone wanted to know, of course, was: How did you not know? Looking back, though, there was a logical explanation for how West had missed all the obvious symptoms. Morning sickness? She thought she had the flu when she would've been about eight weeks pregnant. Missed periods? She thought she was getting her period just like she always had -- that is, irregularly. (The bleeding the day she gave birth may have been the bleeding due to labor or could have been the expulsion of the mucus plug that protects the opening of the cervix.) Heartburn and stomach pain late in the pregnancy didn't raise a red flag, either. "I was sure I'd aggravated my ulcer," she says. Her gynecologist didn't catch her condition because she saw her for an annual exam just before West would have conceived.
Even the baby's movements, which would be so obvious for most women, got past her: She has a tilted uterus, a common condition in which the top of the uterus is angled back, instead of straight up. In West's case, it may have prevented her from feeling Robbie kick, but it probably caused back pain that West attributed to strain.
What she didn't miss was her weight gain, which totaled more than 20 pounds and, near the end, seemed focused on her middle. "I never used to gain weight there, but I figured my body had changed since I'd turned thirty," she says. She took up bike riding and tried watching what she ate but couldn't seem to shed the pounds.
West wasn't the only one who noticed her progressive plumpness. Her older sister, Jeanne Cox, poked her and said, "What have you got in there, a baby?" but West said, "No, I'm just getting fat," so her sister let it go.
Ironically, Jeanne was pregnant herself. "I was thrilled for her, and excited to be a part of a pregnancy from the very beginning," West says. "I actually said to Jeanne that helping her was the next best thing to having my own baby!"
When her sister gave birth at the end of June, West dropped everything to help her. In fact, less than a week before her own baby was born, she was scrubbing Jeanne's house from top to bottom. Meanwhile, Dan was happy about the new baby in the family -- Jeanne's husband, Justin, has been Dan's best friend since high school -- but still wasn't inspired to start his own family. Babies, it seemed, changed everything.
He was right, of course, but as his own mom points out, it's that way for everyone. "The day Dan was born -- not the day I found out I was pregnant -- was the day my life changed," she says. No one can imagine life without Robbie now, least of all Jen: "When he was born, I was overwhelmed, but I loved him from the start."
The Wests feel their good fortune extends beyond Robbie's presence and good health. "It isn't until something unexpected happens that you realize how important you are to people," Jen says of the support she's gotten from family, friends, and coworkers. They not only pitched in from day one but gave the couple what they needed most: reassurance that despite the rather unusual nature of Robbie's birth, Jen and Dan weren't nuts, and that they're still smart, caring, good parents. But that doesn't mean they're taking any chances for next time around. As West says, "I think I'll be taking a pregnancy test every month for the rest of my life!"
Sarah Smith is an articles editor at Parenting.