Well, I don’t know about you but when I read about Judy Brown, I was stumped. Remaining in denial is one thing, but going into the hospital believing you have a gallstone and not a baby is, erm, shocking to be rather kind. Well, maybe Judy has never been pregnant before or she was just too preoccupied to notice her growing bump (she believed it was part of growing old). But she certainly isn’t alone.
There have been women with such amazing birth stories. Like 23-year-old Ada Guan, who unexpectedly went into labor and delivered a healthy baby mid-flight (was it for free air travel?) Ada claims to have tested negative on the home pregnancy test and the fact that she wasn’t showing didn’t signal any red flags. So far there have been 14 cases reported abroad of women who didn’t know they were pregnant till they gave birth! Some of these women didn’t have any telltale signs – morning sickness, pain or heartburn. Some even had periods all the way through (bumper).
Medically termed a cryptic pregnancy, the kind of unusual pregnancy and birth may have a reasonable explanation. Doctors believe several medical conditions can lead to such confusion. For example, if a woman tests too early, doesn’t follow directions closely or uses diluted urine on a home pregnancy test, she may end up with a negative result, leading her to believe she hasn’t conceived. Some may have spotting throughout pregnancy that they mistake for periods. Many women have infrequent menstruation or no periods at all.
Take the case of Geraldine D, a Polycystic Ovary Syndrome patient, who was told by doctors that she would never conceive. The infertility rate in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) patients is alarmingly high, and women usually have difficulty getting pregnant and require treatment to improve chances for pregnancy. But as fate would have it, Geraldine got pregnant naturally and gave birth to a healthy baby boy (there’s no shortage of small miracles).
At times, being on the heavier side can also be misleading. Heavier women are perhaps more predisposed not to show their pregnancy bump at all (my belly fat was often mistaken for a baby bump).
Then there is the common case of unplanned pregnancy (or accidental discovery like that of Christopher Columbus). Women who often fall in this category often end up drinking alcohol and eating foods that are forbidden for pregnant women. Some with intense jobs may not wake up and smell the flowers till their second trimester!
And then you can just blame it on the contraceptive! As a husband of a friend once joked about wanting to sue a condom brand as the goods didn’t perform the way they were supposed to. Things that can add to a pregnancy include faulty condoms (check expiry date), incorrectly inserted IUD or even making an error in calculating your menses.
Most women consider the seven days before the menstruation and the post seven days to be the safest for intercourse, but doctors claim that it is not a foolproof method and often warn against it. Another common mistake is to believe the sign of not having a period to be a sign of not ovulating (now before you get your knickers in a twist, let me explain).
Once you’ve had your little bunny, it may come as a relief that you are spared ‘that time of the month’ routine! Although we may not menstruate for months after giving birth, our bodies usually release the first postpartum egg before the first period. So you could start ovulating again at any time after three months of lactation, and probably won’t know when it happens. Like a certain lady who was carrying her second baby before her son turned a year old.
So, while you take comfort in the thought that age is just a number, remember that accidents are waiting to happen (wink).