No, not me. This story is dedicated to the women on TLC’s fantastic show, I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant.
I knew about this show. Who doesn’t? And I might have seen a clip once of a women hunkered down outside a Mexican restaurant believing she had overdone it on the super nachos when Holy Guacamole! She’s the proud mother of a little chimichanga. But I hadn’t actually seen an episode until last night. With my parents. OMG… it was amazing.
So amazing that it’s pretty much all my mom are talking about today.
“You could be pregnant right now!” She howled. “I could be a grandma in just a matter of days! Oh my, we have so much to do!”
Forget just being pregnant! Apparently I could give birth at the hockey game tomorrow night while standing in line for my 5th Bud Light! According to this show, babies fall out of women all the time. In public. And no one is more surprised than the mothers.
Okay, so how does this happen you ask? Well, lots of times the mothers were told they couldn’t have kids or had their tubes tied or believed they were taking some form of reliable birth control. They wrote their “symptoms” off as something else like food poisoning, the flu, too much gardening (for real,) or in one case congestive heart failure. One woman actually had the gall to lose 7 pounds during her secret pregnancy!
Admittedly the whole “how the heck are you that out of touch with your own body that you didn’t notice a fetus growing inside of you” is an intriguing part of the show but it’s not the best part. Not by a long shot. The best is the reenactments– by the women and often the surprised baby daddies themselves. This is not your typical grainy, night vision, I-outsmarted-a-rabid-raccoon-by-diving-through-the-window-of-a-Chevy-Malibu reality TV. We’re talking full on reenactments of how this whole drama went down–every grunt and groan accounted for.
There was poor little Tracy* who thought she had to take an “extreme BM” play acting her stint on the toilet with her sweatpants around her ankles, bucking and wailing like she was… well… giving birth to a full-term baby she didn’t know was inside her. When the “extreme BM” or surprise baby failed to materialize, she went back to bed, still writhing in pain. In the morning her boyfriend took her to urgent care where another startling and Oscar worthy special effect reenactment took place. I do believe Tracy said something like, “It felt like something was coming out of me” and lo and behold something did. Right there in her sweatpants. How do I know? Because they showed Tracy pulling out the waistband of her pants and looking down. We saw what she saw, which in this case was a strange little gray, goopey, baby head poking out from her lady parts. Did you read that right? WE SAW IT. It was at this point my dad got up and left. Judy and I were still in hysterics, paralyzed by the drama unfolding before us. Tracy also has the best quote of my life during this scene: “I delivered a baby. In my pants.” A baby they later had to “cut out of her pant leg.” The poor people at urgent care were freaking out. They’re used to broken toes and flu shots but surprise labor and deliveries? Save that for the Mexican restaurant down the street.
Then there was college student Jackie who missed a day’s worth of classes because she had some serious stomach issues most likely due to all that drinking and Rice-a-Roni eating normal college students favor. Turns out her stomach issues were caused by the impending delivery of a 5.6 pound baby boy.
“But how can I be pregnant?” Jackie wailed to the school nurse. “I just went on the pill!”
“Well, are you taking your pill?” the nurse asked.
“Yes. But, not like…every day.”
Then there was my favorite. I shall call her Esmeralda because such a classic tale deserves such a regale, fairy tale princess name. Esmeralda already had one baby so one might assume she kind of has an idea of how these things happen. She might even have an idea of what a pregnancy feels like. Maybe what sorts of changes your body endures. What it feels like to give birth. Well, she didn’t because according to her, her baby daddy and baby daddy’s mother, (who graciously let the couple move in with her because they couldn’t afford to raise Baby #1 and keep going to clubs and Monster Truck races) she didn’t exhibit any of the signs. Esmeralda is the one who lost 7 pounds during her pregnancy. She spent all this money on an IUD. Money that could have gone towards a new trucker hat or a day’s worth of pull tabs. She was tired but chalked that up to “keeping up with her daughter all day long.” And she felt “sick” sometimes but credited that to her weak immune system. What she did not expect the night she woke up with “terrible gas pains” was to flat out drop a baby out of her apparent vortex of a lady part onto the ceramic tiled kitchen floor. I do believe the medical term for this is “slid down her leg” as explained by a professional MD retained by the show.
There Esmeralda was, all shaking and horrified, looking at her future mother-in-law’s kitchen floor and discovering a frightening, slippery newborn staring back up at her. Umm…what the hell? I have friends with babies. I watched a ton of soap operas growing up. I know that giving birth can benefit from gravity, but there are often lots of pushing and pulling and prodding and maneuvering to get a baby out of its mother. They do not generally “slid down your leg.” Do they? OMG, DO THEY? I now have a new appreciation for skinny jeans. If for nothing else they’ll prevent babies from slipping through their mother’s pant legs onto cold tile floors.
Perhaps Esmeralda’s first thought was “What jackass left a baby here on this floor where someone getting up in the middle of the night for a shot of Pepto could step on it?” But then she must have noticed the baby was attached to her. To like…inside of her.
“Oh. This must be my baby. Stupid IUDs.”
Can we take a moment to salute the prop master for this show?
As unbelievable as these stories sound (and believe me, I’m not doing them justice) the real shocker is that all of the babies born to these clueless moms were fine. At least at the time of birth. Because they had no idea they were with child the mothers didn’t exactly take steps to ensure they’d have a healthy pregnancy. No check ups, no folic acid, no weekly updates comparing their fetus’s size to pieces of fruit they can share with their friends on Facebook. They ate at Taco Bell, smoked, drank like fishes, went on upside down roller coasters, got staph infections from hot tubs. So what have we learned from all this? I’ll tell you: Just like it was in the 70’s when our moms had us, all that “what not to do while pregnant” stuff is bunk.
I hope this show and the women who were brave enough to share their stories with us will encourage you all to act more rationally and be sensitive to your fellow friends and neighbors. The next time you find someone taking too long in a public restroom or writhing in abdominal pain behind La Hacienda, or experiencing unexplained weight gain, or complaining about urges to have “extreme BM’s” that never materialize, ask her, “Is that a baby in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?” You might want to have some clean towels and hot water ready just in case.
*Not their real names because I can’t remember any of those minor details.