Sunday, February 8, 2015

How Can You Not Know You Are/Were Pregnant?

I never knew not being able to tell that you were pregnant was a thing until it happened to me. I'm sure I had heard one or two stories about it in passing, years before it would ever become relevant to my life, but I probably never paid them any mind because the idea seemed so impossible to me. How could you not know you were pregnant? How could you not notice the morning sickness, the missed periods, the weight gain, the movement of your baby?

Having now lived through the experience myself, I can say with 100% certainty being oblivious to a pregnancy is a thing and it's not even a rare thing. There's a whole show about it and it's run multiple seasons it happens that frequently.

So how does something like this happen? Well, for starters not all women experience all symptoms of pregnancy. You can skip one or all of them, actually. If you're already a larger woman, you may even go full term without noting any weight gain because your overall shape hasn't changed. You may be one of those women who has always had irregular periods, so missing several months is nothing strange. You may ignore minor discomforts because you have no other symptoms and have been on birth control. You might have another diagnosed medical condition that has similar symptoms and attribute how you feel to that instead. There are a lot of ways this could happen.

It must be the flu.
For me it was a little stranger. I had about a week, early on in 2012 (looking back), where I thought I had the flu. That's it. That was my only indicator of a pregnancy. There were a few sporadic nights where I felt under the weather but I suffer from a chronic illness and this was nothing new. For example, I feel under the weather right now. I was taking birth control religiously to treat PMDD and getting regular periods (6-7 day duration, including 3-4 heavy days like usual), every month. So being pregnant had never even crossed my mind. I continued having normal periods throughout my pregnancy up until the last month.

I gained absolutely no weight until the third trimester. We assumed then that it was due to a lapse in exercise and our love of cheeseburgers, particularly because there were, again, no other signs of pregnancy... but then I had a light period as well and we decided to go ahead and test. Given the circumstances, I expected it would be negative and I'd have a cyst or something. It was positive.

These pictures were only taken a week apart!
At this point we assumed, since I had only just begun gaining weight, had only had a single irregular period, and hadn't felt any movement, that I must've been just a couple of months along. We scheduled a doctor appointment for the following week (earliest I could be seen). During this week I gained weight rapidly. So rapidly in fact that halfway through we had to go shopping because suddenly none of my clothes fit anymore. I went from 125 lb. to 140lb. in a matter of days becoming very obviously quite pregnant -- certainly more than a couple of months.

Our first physical exam estimated that I was 5 months pregnant. Our first ultrasound, days later, moved that forward to 7 months pregnant. Our meeting with the OB/GYN, just a few days after that, dictated my due date was the next month. Surprise!

I was worried about the health of the baby because there had been a complete lack of movement, but it turns out that was simply because I couldn't feel it. On the ultrasounds he was moving plenty. He was perfect, healthy. This lack of perceived 'kicking' was attributed to having an anterior placenta, meaning I was unable to feel him move until he was so big it'd be impossible not to. Then I could feel him moving constantly, which was very alien to me because I had no time to get used to his little movements beforehand. My midwife said that had I been larger to begin with, I may have never felt him move at all.

And this, my dear readers, is how you can go three trimesters without ever knowing you were pregnant in the first place. Not all women, even perfectly health ones, experience pregnancy symptoms. Some medical conditions mask pregnancy symptoms. It's natural and if you went a long time before detecting your pregnancy there's no shame in it. Plenty of women don't even learn of their pregnancies until going into labor. Just take care of yourself so if this were to happen, you'll all be okay. Get plenty to eat, drink enough water, make sure you get enough sleep, take your vitamins, wear sunscreen, etc.

If you suspect even remotely you may be pregnant, test! No matter how far-fetched it seems. It's better to know, even if you didn't find out right away. Can you imagine how scary it must be to go to the E.R. for abdominal pain thinking you're dying, only to find out you're in labor? I can imagine very few things scarier.

Related posts:
There is a Ninja
There is a Ninja II
Birth Story

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