Heard it in real life

You know those amazing stories about women giving birth when they didn’t even know they were pregnant?

Kim Brenneman of Large Family Logistics almost had an experience like that.  If my recollection is correct, she made it to 25 weeks without knowing, then had a preemie just 2 weeks later. You can read about it in the preface of her book, Large Family Logistics.

But almost only counts in horseshoes, as they say, and Kim did have just a bit of notice.  Anyway, I know somebody in real life who has experienced this.  She and her husband are very good friends of my brother and his wife, and we all spent an evening together last weekend.  I heard the whole story from the husband, then couldn’t resist going straight to the wife to get her version.  Of course they matched perfectly except for the varying levels of panic, hilarity and hysteria expressed or implied.

In a nutshell, here’s what happened: Jake came home from work one evening to find Diane suffering from back/stomach pains.  They assumed she was sick, and went to bed hoping she would be better in the morning.

During the night, Jake awoke to the sound of Diane crying out in pain.  He insisted on taking her straight to the emergency room, but hurt his back carrying her across the parking lot.  She felt better for a moment and finished the trek herself, then the pain hit her again.

Inside an examining room, Diane told the nurse, “I’ve never hurt so much except when my daughter was born, but I’m not even pregnant now!”   The nurse put 2 and 2 together and did a quick check, finding that Diane was 9 centimeters dilated!

They called for a doctor who arrived with just 12 minutes to spare.  Jake and Diane left the hospital with a healthy 5 lb, 4 oz. boy who they estimated was 7 weeks early.

Really.  You’ve seen stories like this in the news, and now I’ve met at least one woman who lived it.

Diane said her first pregnancy was very typical, which made it all the more shocking that she never suspected she was pregnant the second time.

She had regular cycles throughout the pregnancy.  She was at the doctor several times in the preceding months for other reasons.

She was overweight, but not dramatically.  She had been dieting, so she actually lost weight during the course of the pregnancy.

Jake confirmed that neither of them ever suspected pregnancy at any point before the nurse said the word dilated and centimeters.

Now she is expecting a third child and having a completely normal pregnancy.  With 7 weeks to her duedate, you could never miss the fact that she is expecting.

What do you think?  Incredible?  Or have you heard or even experienced something like this yourself?


  1. Had a childhood friend who was unmarried, around 20 yrs old, went to dr. several times for depression, weight gain, etc. They never diagnosed her correctly! She was lying in the bathtub having “horrible cramps” when her mom took her to the hospital and “Wa-lah!” the answer came. She delivered and kept her baby. Crazy.

  2. Rachel C. says:

    I’ve heard of these stories and always wondered how they could be possible, but I’ve come up with a theory. They say that our minds have a lot of control over our bodies, and I’ve also heard of men gaining weight while their wives are pregnant. So my theory is that a lot of the weight and roundness that most of us seem to get is related to the expectation of being big and pregnant. If you have no reason to think that you are, you probably don’t gain as much.

  3. Wow. This happened (sadly) to a girl I went to college with. With my last baby I stuck out to China–definitely knew what was up!

  4. 6 arrows says:

    I heard of this happening to a lady who lives in our area. She didn’t know she was pregnant until the day she went into labor.

    From what I heard, she hadn’t had a baby for several years, and was at an age where she suspected menopause. Also, she had had some type of abdominal surgery some years after the previous baby had been born, and the surgery had left her numb in some parts of her abdomen.

    The unusual thing about her “surprise pregnancy” was that the baby’s umbilical cord was uncharacteristically short. They figured the baby was rendered pretty inactive due to the short cord, and any moving he did do probably wasn’t very noticeable to his mom because of her abdominal numbness.

    The person who told me this had just seen this lady the day before she delivered, and she was shocked to get a message on her answering machine the next day that her friend had had a baby, when neither of them had even suspected pregnancy the day before!

    I had never heard of such a thing, but Christian friends of mine who know this lady can vouch for the truth of this story. God blesses in amazing ways!

  5. Lindsey says:

    I had this happen to a friend of mine who is thin, thin, thin – like she wears a size zero! She found out she was pregnant at 7.5 mos, and the baby was born at 8mos, just two weeks later. she wore her own size zero jeans home from the hospital, and the only reason she didn’t wear them TO the hospital is her ankles were too swollen! Unbelievable!

  6. My Boaz's Ruth says:

    There is NO WAY I could not know I was pregnant with current baby. but if we had not been TRYING to get pregnant, i could see it with DS #1. I barely felt him move. (I am REALLY enjoying this part of this pregnancy) And only realized what I was feeling WAS movement because I felt it at the same time I saw him move on the 20-week ultrasound. WIthout that, I’d have gone on thinking I had some gas. Even the minor nausea I have can be explained away as “not feeling well” and “tired because I stayed up too late last night” etc.

  7. The exact same thing happened to my aunt. 😀

  8. Whitney says:

    While in the hospital after delivering my 7th last year, I was in a room next to a woman who delivered a “surprise” baby in the ER the night before. She had 2 other children and the youngest was 11 months so even though she was actually thin, she hadn’t lost her “baby belly” after the previous pregnancy and thought it was just stubbornly hanging on. Apparently the ER had NO idea what was wrong with her and she delivered the baby right onto the bed in the ER. Her periods were normally irregular, she never felt sick, and she didn’t feel the baby. I can’t remember how far she was but I saw the baby and it was normal size and was never in the nicu and it went home with her the next day. I was amazed too to actually meet someone in real life!!

  9. This reminds me of when I went up for a visit with my
    Mom with my last baby. I was 4 weeks along and the nausea hit the day I went up. 😛 I spent my week watching those “pregnant and didn’t know it” shows the whole time- wishing I was pregnant and didn’t know it! My placenta was across the front, so while I got to feel the lovely nausea for 3 months I didn’t feel the baby move until she was about 6 months old. It was 5 months before the midwife could get a good heart beat! We weren’t worried, though, because I was getting huge, so we knew she was growing!

  10. Yes, location of the placenta can affect movement felt by the mom. I have a friend who had an anterior placenta, and she rarely felt the baby move. I can imagine that if she didn’t know she was pregnant, she would attribute the movements she did feel to something else.

  11. This happened to a good friend of mine as well. She is a tall woman of fairly large build, but not at all overweight. Her son played baseball with mine, and the weekend before her surprise baby was born she even ran the bases in the mom’s race at a tournament & won! She suddenly developed a severe stomach flu & was so sick she became dehydrated, so her husband took her to the ER. A few hours later she delivered her 5th child. She really did have a horrible flu and it is possible that it caused her premature labor. Her son was estimated at about 27 weeks & had a very rough start in life, but has done pretty well. He is about 7 now. She said she had no idea she was pregnant, she had normal (for her) cycles the entire time. Her kids are spaced close together, so she did still have a little bit of a squishy belly, but was generally a very athletic person – she ran & also played on a women’s softball team. She said she had no explanation for why she never felt him move – he was a small weak baby due to his early birth, but didn’t have any pre-existing problems that would account for his inactivity. It was just crazy!

    • I thought as much! I knew if I shared Diane’s story, crazy as it was, there would be plenty of others who could share similar stories. It’s certainly never happened to me, but I’ll bet it’s not as uncommon as most of us would assume. Diane probably wouldn’t have told me her story if my brother hadn’t mentioned it in passing. I wonder how many other women I’ve met that had similar experiences but just don’t go about telling everyone they meet?

  12. My first 3 babies moved and flipped around like crazy, there’s no way I could have missed being pregnant with them. With my last baby, my placenta completely covered the front of my uterus. I didn’t feel him move at all until 28 weeks, and even then it was barely a flutter. My stomach never did the “alien” thing it did with the other kids. On the rare occasion I felt him move, it could have easily been dismissed as cramps, or gas . It was so strange. After that pregnancy, I can totally see how someone might not feel the baby move.

  13. During my time working as a labor & delivery nurse before getting married, I did see this happen and couldn’t figure out how it would be possible. I was very aware of what was happening in my body and truly couldn’t imagine not feeling the baby move, etc.

    I’ve since learned that a lot of women don’t keep any track of cycles, either mentally or through recording, so that’s not always the “clue” you would think it would be. There are factors which impact feeling the baby move (placenta placement being one) and factors which affect the external signs of pregnancy (body structure, not just weight, being a key one).

    Out of all my pregnancies, which numbers in the teens, I’ve experienced both a delay in finding out I was pregnant (once!) and an apparent lengthy delay in feeling contractions to know I was in labor (hubby got to deliver those 2). Those contrast with the pregnancies I “knew” I was pregnant when it should have been medically impossible (twice) and “knew” it before any medical proof was possible (five).

    My experiences sure made a believer out of me.

  14. Crazy stuff. I just have to say, I very rarely felt any of my four babies move and I am average weight. (To the point of worry at times!) So, I guess in that regard, I can see how it could happen.

  15. Yep, I’d have to say baby movement would HAVE to give it away at least by the 6th or 7th month. 🙂
    Happily expecting #7 and feeling his/her movements at just over 4 months,
    Sheila in Iowa

  16. Yup, I know someone who gave birth without knowing she was expecting. She was not overweight and had cycles the entire pg. I always wanted to be one of those women, with as awful as my pgs are. Sigh, some women get all the luck ;).

  17. I have worried about that happening to me.

    I’m fat.

    And as to movement–sometimes the placenta can get in the way of that. But also, since my first was born I have had all kinds of intestinal and muscle twitches that feel exactly like a baby kicking. They were so convincing that I thought I was pregnant for *months* even with endless negative tests….”but I can feel *kicks*!) I’ve since learned to ignore them.

  18. I’m always skeptical when I hear stories like this, especially after four pregnancies. I’m “overweight” but not dramatically so, and I would notice if I wasn’t fitting into my clothes after dieting! I also don’t know how you could fail to notice things like the baby moving, etc. My babies are always strong movers, and there is no mistaking that kick to the bladder or diaphragm for anything other than what it is.

    But obviously it happens!

  19. I can understand how a woman who is overweight MIGHT not realize she is pregnant because maybe her body doesn’t look all that different when she is. But I would have trouble believing that a thin woman could not know it by at least 3 or 4 months. And definitely after a few babies things get stretched out in there and you can FEEL everything that little one is doing! Babies don’t just sit there stoically in their increasingly cramped space – they hiccup and kick and their elbows and knees like to drag across your belly, and they poke you in the ribs, and sometimes they flip flop. HOW can it be possible for someone to not feel that? Hmm. I just don’t… Hmmm. I am stumped.

    On the other hand. How nice to go through an entire pregnancy without any bothersome effects and then, BAM! BABY OUT. Instead of months of nausea, trouble sleeping, Heparin shots and/or Progesterone suppositories, peeing frequently, and any other host of discomfort or pain; there is but a fleeting and unrecognizable gestation and then a beautiful surprise that was, literally, “no trouble at all.” It’s almost too good to be true. What a wondrous and magnificent miracle that would be, to wake up one morning (and without any of the effort) have a brand new baby that very day. Better stop off at the store for some diapers on the way home. Crazy stuff.

  20. My sister is an ER nurse and once worked at John Hopkins (she’s now in ME). She is telling me all kinds of stories of ladies who came in while in labor without knowing. 😉

  21. One of my mum’s friends didn’t find out she was pregnant until she was 7 months gone. She didn’t have an inkling until her doctor made her do a pregnancy test.
    Me, I knew I was pregnant with this one even when the tests were saying not pregnant, what with food tasting funny and the waves of nausea there was no way of not knowing.

  22. This happened to my SIL! We (and she) didn’t know she was pregnant when she was apparently 8 months at my wedding (how she managed to get into the bridesmaid dress that she bought BEFORE she was pregnant I’ll never know). And we saw her the day before she gave birth! She ended up going to the hospital for stomach pains and gave birth 10 minutes later. We were all in shock! 🙂 But it makes for a great story! haha!

  23. I’ve known a couple people who made it to 5 months without knowing, one had diabetes and very irregular cycles and the other was nursing a newborn and still had baby-belly-pudge. But it is a crazy thought! I’m pregnant with #3 and I think I found out I was pregnant with each baby around 4 1/2 or 5 weeks, though each time I’ve been hoping I was pregnant so I was definitely paying attention.

  24. That is totally crazy!!! My husband was asking me the other night if that can ACTUALLY SERIOUSLY HAPPEN in real life! I couldn’t miss the fact that I was pregnant. Only puked every day for the entire 9 months!

  25. I get so enormous in all my pregnancies I can’t even imagine not being suspicious by 4 months – even if I had no other symptoms! 🙂

  26. Large Family Logistics is blogging agian!

    I remember when she had her little one (far away from home) — but not that they had not realized she was pregnant.

  27. Wow!!! Well, with our second we made it to 5 months before I realized I was expecting. He ended up being born 3 weeks early so I only knew I was pregnant with him for 3 months!
    He was born just 11 1/2 months after our first so I just wasn’t at all expecting another baby so soon.
    After we went on to have 5 babies in less than five years (with 7 total now) I kinda got used to having them so close! 🙂
    But, wow, I can’t imagine making it the whole way without knowing!

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