For those of us blessed with morning sickness and enormous bellies during pregnancy, it’s hard to imagine that anyone could not know until virtually the last minute that they are expecting. But it does happen – in fact, in the past few weeks alone not one, not two, but three cases of “surprise” babies have hit the headlines.
If you’ve ever travelled overseas and made the most of the local cuisine – or even if you’re just partial to a hearty meal – you may be able to empathise with Kate Hudson. The 22-year-old thought she just had a “food baby” after travelling around Europe for two months. But it turned out to be a real baby, who was about to arrive any day.
Kate stopped taking the pill when she set off on a European holiday without boyfriend Aaron. When she didn’t menstruate the next month, she figured her body was just adjusting. But when it happened again the next month, she took a pregnancy test. It was positive. Thinking she must be about seven weeks pregnant, she went to an obstetrician – who, to her shock, told her she was 33 weeks pregnant.
“I totally freaked out,” she tells blog The Young Mummy. “No way was I ready to have a baby. I’m only 22. No job, and no money. And no time to prepare.” Alone and terrified, she flew home to Aaron and her family the next day. “We just had to roll with it. The baby was coming and coming fast, so I just had to prepare and get back home. I didn’t have time to process it until the flight home, where I basically cried for the 22 hours,” she says.
Once home in Melbourne, Kate went for an ultrasound – only to find out that she was actually 38 weeks along. “I was scared because I didn’t know if the baby was healthy. Obviously having not known for so long, I was exercising heaps, jumping off cliffs, riding bikes, drinking alcohol and eating anything and everything. The baby’s health was both mine and Aaron’s main concern,” she says.
Just over a week later, she was induced after doctors discovered a problem with her placenta – and realised her son was actually overdue. So a couple of weeks after finding out she was pregnant, baby Mason was in her arms.
Doctors say Kate didn’t show because her tilted-back uterus made Mason sit high on her diaphragm. She says she had no real symptoms – regular periods, no morning sickness, little weight gain. “All I had leading up to it was constipation, and I went from a C-cup to a D-cup,” she tells The Young Mummy.
Mason is now eight weeks old, but his parents are still adjusting to their sudden major life change. “I wake up in the morning and sometimes forget that I have a baby. It’s a huge change and very overwhelming,” she says.
If one surprise baby is hard to get used to, imagine the shock of finding out you’re having twins – just hours before they are born.
Earlier this month, Iowa woman Shelby Magnani went to a walk-in clinic with a sharp pain in her left side. There she learned she was pregnant. The doctor sent her to the ER, where an ultrasound discovered she’d been carrying twins for 34 weeks. An hour and a half later, daughters Ava and Anna were born.
Ms Magnani had an emergency C-section to deliver her monoamniotic twins, who beat a survival rate of 50 per cent. These rare sets of twins share the placenta and amniotic sac, and face serious complications including entanglement of cords. “We bring the patients into the hospital at 24 to 26 weeks, so we can monitor the babies several times a day, because we know the risk of one or both of those babies dying is fairly significant,” Perinatal Center of Iowa doctor Jennifer Krupp tells WhoTV.
“I’m still trying to process. It’s crazy how high risk mono-mono twins can be, and how good they’re doing now. It’s really a blessing,” Ms Magnani says.
Her experience is similar to that of Sydney woman Kim Walsh, who cradled daughter Shelby for the first time just two-and-a-half hours after finding out she was pregnant. Even more amazing is that Ms Walsh, 38, had been told numerous times that polycystic ovary syndrome would prevent her from ever having a baby.
She too went to her GP with stomach cramps, only to be told that she was in labour. “My husband was parked outside the surgery. I climbed into the car. He asked, ‘How did you go?’. I told him, ‘You’re going to be a father … today’,” she tells the Sydney Morning Herald.
They went straight to hospital, where doctors found the baby was in acute distress with the cord wrapped around her neck. Ms Walsh was rushed into surgery and she and husband Anthony were parents soon after.
The couple tell SMH they were “overwhelmed” by the generosity of friends and strangers after their big surprise. “We walked in the door without so much as a nappy. But everything we needed – and more – has since arrived through the goodwill of others,” Mrs Walsh says.
How or when did you find out you were pregnant? Was it a surprise? Tell us below.