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'I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant'

By bethanysanders |

pregnant-woman1I recently finished Alice Eve Cohen’s What I Thought I Knew, a spare, stunningly honest and, at times, heart-breaking account of her surprise pregnancy at age 44.

For six months, Cohen (who was told she was infertile) sought treatment for menopause, various health issues, and finally a tumor in her abdomen, only to discover that she was actually near her third trimester in a high-risk pregnancy.

It’s hard to imagine someone not knowing they’re pregnant, especially if you’ve been there yourself.  First there’s the nausea, then the constant peeing, followed by the kicking and rolling and eventual third trimester waddling.

But according to Macleans, studies have shown that in about  1 in 2500 pregnancies, women don’t know they’re pregnant until the third trimester or — worse — delivery.

It’s called “denial of pregnancy.”  Some women have negative pregnancy tests, others don’t gain any weight.  Some have irregular periods the entire time, and others take birth control pills.  In a German study of 65 women with denial of pregnancy, most of the women were married or lived with their partner and many had been pregnant before.

It’s a mysterious condition, yet not that rare, say experts.  An informal survey of Strollerderby bloggers found that many knew friends or acquaintances who’d been surprised this way.

TLC is putting the spotlight on this phenomenon in their new reality series I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant.  Women go to the ER with a burst appendix, food poisoning, and pelvic pain and come home with a baby.

Becoming a parent is such a transition, it’s hard to imagine being in these women’s shoes with little or no time to prepare for parenthood.  Do you know someone who didn’t know they were pregnant until late in the game?  Share your story with us.


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Photo: nateOne, Flickr

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0 thoughts on “'I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant'

  1. PlumbLucky says:

    Granted, I found out WELL before this point (I was 12 weeks when I had a positive blood test at the doctors)…but after six (differently branded) HPT’s were negative, and since I was losing weight, and had just had a job promotion that could have been making me that tired…I guess it could easily be possible. Just glad that my GYN opted for the blood test before the shot o’ hormones was given to spark good old AF as she was missing and that was the only real symptom, but with me, not all that unusual either.
    And six relatively boring medically months later, my kiddo was born.

  2. diera says:

    I knew someone online many years ago who didn’t find out she was pregnant with her second child until she was 26 weeks along. As I remember the story, her first child was only about a year old and she hadn’t lost most of the weight from her first pregnancy, and her first pregnancy had had a lot of health problems associated with it that she didn’t experience with the second, so she just didn’t know. The crazy thing was the second child was born prematurely at 32 weeks, so she basically had six weeks to prepare and then had a premature baby. Eeek! Luckily all went well.

  3. Robyn says:

    My best friend’s sister-in-law went into the ER with severe stomach cramps and came out with a baby. The SIL was very overweight and had had irregular periods throughout.

  4. Ali says:

    My first cousin, who was in nursing school and her parents were both nurses, did not know she was pregnant until she was on her honeymoon. She has got sick and went to the ER and found she was 24 weeks pregnant. It was weird no one in her famiy noticed because at her huge, hihg society wedding, as she walked down the aisle, my dad turned to my mom and said, “Damn! Look at her boobs! She must be pregnant!” I need to take him to the track so he can pick horses for me.

  5. Lula says:

    A cousin “didn’t know” she was pregnant until she gave birth at home, alone, on the toilet, to a slightly premature son. She was 15 at the time, her mother recently dead, and her family was very religiously conservative. General consensus was that she was so scared and so ashamed of having had premarital sex and becoming pregnant that she went into heavy denial in an attempt to “wish it all away”. She also had a large frame and this all went down in the mid-80s, when baggy fashion made concealing a denied pregnancy all the easier. Her father was beside himself — felt horrible that he hadn’t noticed, that his daughter had gone through the whole pregnancy alone and terrified, and that his surprise grandson was born into such a sad state of affairs. The silver lining was that the whole family got some much-needed intervention that helped them out a lot. Cousin decided to have her son adopted, so we don’t know what the outcome was for him.

  6. patricia says:

    LOL, Ali, that’s a hilarious story!

    One of my best friends didn’t know she was pregnant until about 22 weeks. She thought she had a tumor and was going to die, because of her weight gain and belly growth. She went to the doctor who asked her had she taken a pregnancy test. When she said no, the doctor said, “Well you should have!” I think she had not felt the baby moving by that point, but even at 9+ months, she still only looked like she had a small pot belly. She never got to the waddling stage and mostly wore her “fat” clothes throughout (as opposed to me, who resembled large marine mammals by the end of both my pregnancies).

  7. snarky mama says:

    I didn’t know I was pregnant with my 3rd until about 18 weeks. Right before I got pregnant with him, I had quit my job and my husband and I packed up our 4 bedroom house to move cross-country. The van with all of our belongings broke down, so we had to turn around about 1 1/2 days into the trip. After 6 days of being semi-homeless in our old hometown, we ended up flying cross-country with our 2 boys, then 2 1/2 and 4 1/2. We moved into our rental (with a 7 month lease) and after 6 weeks of living there (the weekend before my eldest son was to start kindergarten), our landlord “asked” us to move, as he had sold the house. Sometime in there, I started a new job, which I hated and subsequently quit. We moved–again, but into a different school district, so we were literally signing up for school on the first day. On top of all this, I have always had light-to-non-existent periods, and I had lost about 15 lbs since we moved.

    So, yeah, being tired and cranky and not having my period were chalked up to all the major life changes that happened during that time.

  8. coolteamblt says:

    My sister’s best friend had a baby at fourteen. She told her mom her stomach was hurting all the time, so they went to the doctor. The doctor pulled out the ultrasound machine to take a look around, and said “Congrats, it’s a girl!” They both freaked out. She had never even started her period, she was so young, so she figured she couldn’t get pregnant. Turns out, she was about six months along when she found out.

  9. [...] Rinku Rai knew she was pregnant, the very pregnant 30-year-old didn’t realize that she was in [...]

  10. karynk says:

    A girl in my senior year of high school went to the ER with terrible tummy cramps and gave birth by csection to a baby boy. Supposedly she had no idea she was pregnant. Soooo weird.

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