You know all those shows and television specials about women who have no idea they’re pregnant until they’re in the third trimester, or even giving birth? I always have been so skeptical of those; How could you not know?, I’d wonder. It’s fairly obvious once you gain the weight and stop your period, right? But, just like everything else with the body, it’s not so simple. For some, pregnancy isn’t even a possibility in their minds. For example, Linda Ackley of Jackson, Michigan.
Ackley, 44, had absolutely no idea she was pregnant until she arrived at a nearby hospital and gave birth to a 10-pound baby. She thought she had a hernia; to Ackley, pregnancy wasn’t an option, having been told already that she could not bear children. She called her husband Mike and informed him of their new addition. “Some people have nine months to prepare,” he said. “I had  hours. I wish someone would have taken a picture of my face.” In my imagination, it went something like this:
While this sounds totally crazy, apparently it’s not all that uncommon. According to Dr. Kimberly Gecsi of University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, “It happens more than you would think. Every time it does there’s always the, ‘How could they not have known? It seems crazy.’” Rather than think they’re pregnant, she says, family members and even physicians will insist the woman is sick with some other condition. So, “surprise” pregnancy happens, but how?
According to Gecsi, it typically occurs with teenagers who “will until the day they die say I don’t have sex, so it just doesn’t occur to people.” And though these children are often born healthy, the skipped-over prenatal care is not a good thing. It’s important for both the child and the mother to be taken care of properly, so not realizing the need for this all those months can be detrimental.
Fortunately, the Ackleys’ baby Kimberley is healthy and doing well. After Linda had contracted necrotizing fasciitis, a soft tissue-attacking bacterial infection, in 2011, she had gone into a coma and undergone surgery. Now, however, she views the illness from a new perspective: “God wanted me here for something.”