We hear the stories all the time about women who have no idea they are pregnant until they are in labor, yet they are still impossibly hard to believe. How does a woman not understand her body to the extent that she doesn’t notice any pregnancy symptoms, weight gain, and missed periods? There is a lot of judgment in the media when it comes to surprise childbirth, and nobody thinks it could ever happen to them.
Stephanie Jaegers, mother of three, was one of those people. At 37, she had endured three pregnancies and childbirths, each of which was more difficult than the next. After her daughter was born two-and-a-half years ago, the Georgia woman was told that she shouldn’t have any more children because of complications following the birth. Soon after that, she was told that she couldn’t have any more, as doctors diagnosed her with early menopause.
On October 19, Jaegers started feeling cramping in her abdomen, which got progressively worse throughout the day. Her back was also hurting, and she felt discomfort when she urinated. All of these symptoms pointed toward kidney stones, so she and her husband left for the hospital. The first question the nurses asked her was if she was pregnant, and she told them no, and in fact, she was menstruating at that moment.
After the medical staff at Piedmont Henry Hospital in Stockbridge, Georgia, did an ultrasound and blood and urine tests, however, she learned that she was not only pregnant, but that she was 38 weeks along and in full-blown labor.
“Before this happened I had read the different stories and I was one of those people who thought, how could you not know?” Stephanie tells Babble about the initial shock of learning she had been carrying a baby for the last several months.
“How could you not know your body?”
She and her husband were shocked, and also in fear as she had no prenatal medical care and hadn’t taken extra caution during her pregnancy. She had even been riding roller coasters and just a week and a half earlier had broken her ankle and gotten an x-ray.
The baby was breech and tucked behind her ribcage (which could be one of the reasons she didn’t have a baby bump) and to make the situation even more stressful, she was fully dilated and her water had broken. Before doctors could prepare for a cesarean birth, the baby’s butt started to show, so she ended up giving birth naturally.
“The range of emotions and thoughts that go through your head are insane,” her husband Michael explains.
“Most people get eight months to prepare mentally, physically, and financially for this thing, not just hours. I had a mini panic attack.”
But as soon as they heard their son cry for the first time and realized he was healthy, everything just made sense.
“There was never a doubt that this was a negative thing,” Michael continued.
“As they were laying the baby in my arms, I suddenly realized that we need to name him. We were methodical with how we named our kids, and Shaun was a name we were considering if our daughter had been a boy. We chose Jude as a middle name, because I am a huge Beatles fan.”
With Shaun, who is the healthiest of their four children and already trying to hold his head up at a week old, back at home, the Jaegers are adjusting to life as a family of six, and still trying to comprehend and process this miraculous occurrence. Their boys, 15 and 11, are thrilled to have a new sibling and have been helping out extensively, while their daughter, almost 3, is a little skeptical about her baby brother, but appears to be warming up.
“More than anything this has taught me understanding,” explains Stephanie, who has been contacted on social media by numerous people who have been in similar situations.
“I am less quick to judge others.”
While some of the response to their story has been negative, with people calling them “ignorant” and “stupid,” Michael hopes that they will read beyond the headlines and show some compassion. For the most part, the prayers and outpouring of support has been incredible. One of their friends even started a GoFundMe page to collect donations to help the family with all of their medical bills.
“This experience reminded me about something I had forgotten about, that everything happens for a reason, even if I don’t understand it,” she concludes.
“Things are going to happen the way they are meant to. I am so grateful we have Shaun because I feel as though he is absolutely meant to be. He is a miracle.”
h/t: The Washington Post