Is It Gas Or A Tumor?

Yesterday I was speaking to a friend who I hadn’t spoken to in a while.

She was updating me on all sorts of news, events and gossip in her life that somehow I have happily avoided for the past year.

Of course she had one of the stories about a friend, of a friend, of a friend…you know the ones.

Apparently the person she was speaking about had a baby but did not know she was pregnant until she went into labor. 

This distressed my friend to the enth degree.  “How could someone not know they were pregnant..blah, blah, blah…”

Now I agree, how could you not know you were pregnant.  I don’t get it either, but it reminded me of a woman many years ago I met at my husband’s office.

I happened to answer the office phone one day and a woman on the other line was crying and obviously upset.  She had been referred over by her family practice doctor to be seen for a suspicious mass in her abdomen.  Her family practice doctor indicated the medical prognosis did not look good.

Of course in her mind she had a malignant tumor and could only think the worst.  She pretty much had committed herself to having cancer.

I calmed her down and got her in to be seen right away.  She asked if I would be there when she came in, normally I would not have been, but I said I would make sure I was.  I really felt bad for her, she was in her 50’s, had seven children and was divorced.  She was terrified.

The next day she came for her appointment.  She was a complete wreck.  Crying and sniffling.  Her abdomen seemed swollen but nothing too out of control. 

I hung around to comfort her and to be there when the exam was over.  I figured I would schedule her surgery if need be.  She had a few of her grown children with her as well.

However, low and behold, after her physical exam, it was confirmed, she was seven months pregnant. 

I was looking around for the candid cameras because surely this was a joke!  I mean who wouldn’t know you were pregnant, especially if you already had seven kids!

Ladies, those of you who have been with child, was there ever a question what that movement in your abdomen was?  The expanding waistline isn’t quite tumor-like, if you know what I mean.

Needless to say, she was a little embarrassed.  Her children, who had NO IDEA SHE WAS…ahem…having relations…were stunned.   I was a tad flabbergasted and we made her next prenatal appointment instead of scheduling her hysterectomy.

So when someone tells me someone had a baby without knowing they were ever pregnant, even though I’m stunned, I still always think of that woman.

Scary thing is, her family practice doc had already done a complete exam and put her on hormone replacement therapy for her condition.  Yeah, good one dude.

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  1. Alan 1

    I have known several women who did not know they were pregnant until the last moment. All have been somewhat overweight, to put it charitably. Maybe babies are hard to find when cushioned so much?

  2. HoneyB 2

    I believe it, however I agree, how someone cannot know is beyond me. There was a girl a grade ahead of me who had a baby in a baththub – had no idea she was pregnat! So, it happens! Thankfully not to me!

  3. I’ve never understood the “not knowing” they’re pregnant, either. And that woman? In her FIFTIES??? Yikes! I’m gonna be 50 in September and that SURE as hell better not happen to me!!!

    (Not that I don’t love kids you understand – it’s just that I barely have enough energy for my 13 year old!!)

  4. I swear I just typed a comment and it accepted it and not it’s not there…so if I post twice…sorry!

    I don’t understand how anyone could NOT know. Is it a big ol’ case of denial?

    I think the scariest thing for me in the story is that the woman was in her 50’s!! I’m going to be 50 in September and I don’t have enough memory left to be the mother of an infant again!

  5. Philly 5

    I don’t get it? How could one not know?
    My boobs alone sent me a message loud and clear !


  6. I never understand those stories. Not at all. By the way, Annie, Jules and I hoisted a glass of refreshing rose in your honor last night;)

  7. Even though I can’t understand it, it sure makes for great reading for the rest of us! (I knew I was pregnant with Miss Ky at the time of implantation– and we had used two forms of birth control, so it wasn’t like I was anticipating).

  8. Nell 8

    Goodness me. I knew immediately when I was pregnant. I can’t imagine not being aware.

    My co-worker – mind you a big girl – was stunned to find she had a massive abdominal tumor this spring. She is now, happily, heathly and 100+ pounds lighter. Her doctor said it had been growing for years. I can’t understand not being aware of that either!

  9. Well, she was in her 50s, perhaps she thought it just wasn’t possible any more? I’ve wondered about this, too. Are most of the women who haven’t a clue they were pregnant until late in the pregnancy or the onset of labor (for Pete’s sake!) overweight? Perhaps that does help mask it a little. I don’t know.

    Dh’s cousin didn’t know for about four months. She had just had a baby and couldn’t figure out why she couldn’t lose weight. She was still nursing the first baby and had not started having periods yet. I don’t know what it was that finally tipped her off, but it was no surprise delivery, though it was a shock. The second baby was born on the first baby’s first birthday.

  10. Lisa 10

    I tried and tried to get pregnant with my first son so it was no surprise to me. The second one, who I got pregnant with when my 1st one was 5 months old….now that was a surprise!

  11. Daisy 11

    Too funny! It’s amazing what the mind can convince us of when we will it to do so.

  12. The way I was beaten from the inside, the fact like you could SEE it …

    I’ll never understand people who don’t know or even THINK…

  13. Jules 13

    I have never understood how you could not know you were pregnant. What do they think that movement in their abdomen area is? I remember the first time my son moved. How cool! But then again, I did know I was preggers.

  14. Kim 14

    I still don’t know how you could be pregnant and not know it. Forget the belly, the new bras you have to buy within the first 3 months ought to be the giveaway.

  15. I just can’t imagine not knowing!! I always thought those women you’d hear about that “didn’t know” were in some kind of denial. It sounds like your lady truly didn’t realize! That’s wild!!

  16. The rolling, hiccuping, kicking, wiggling tumor. Love it! I wonder why peeing a lot didn’t give that one away.

  17. Stephanie 17

    Well, Alan, I am overweight, and I have had 2 children, and I knew I was pregnant within 2 weeks of conception, when I missed my period. And then I could also feel my baby moving around inside a month before anyone else could. Just because a lady is FAT (oops, I used a bad word!) doesn’t mean she can’t feel her baby. I’ve women who I would politely describe as skeletal who had no clue they were pregnant until they were in labor. But then I attribute that to ignorance.

  18. misty 18

    oh my goodness… but you know, I’ve heard about women who never stop having periods. And honest to God, I have the opposite story. After 6 miscarriages and several doctors really NOT helping during that time, when I stopped menstruating again and my abdomen started to swell, breasts change, etc- I waited until my calculations said I was 6 months along. I went in, only to find out I had a nerf football sized tumor which had consumed an ovary and led me down the long path to a hysterectomy at 24.
    I guess my point is, our experiences are all different and we will never know what it’s like for someone else. I can’t imagine not knowing, but even still- 8 years later- i can’t believe I mistook a tumor for a baby.

  19. Misty 19

    I also have known someone who had a baby & didn’t know she was pregnant. She thought she was having her appendix rupture when she went to the ER & left with a baby girl.

    I have to wonder the same thing…How could one possibly not know? It still baffles me to this day.

  20. ELRA 20

    How would you not know if you’re pregnant? It’s hard for me to believe!

    I, on the other hand made a very stupid mistake long years ago. The story was, when I came to U.S. to visit my boy friend (now my husband), he introduce me to his cousin. I saw her stomach was very big (she was very thin), I rub her stomach and ask when was it due? She was stunned and just said, I’m not pregnant!
    Since then, we never seemed to be able to get close to each other. Then I realized that could be the cause.

    It took me a while to understand that in America, you don’t ask that kind of question. In Indonesia, if you ask wether someone is pregnant (especially if you are married), they will be smiling and say “oh I wish”

    Of course nobody told me that, it’s rude to ask a woman weather they are pregnant or not! Since then, I never ever ask anybody whether they pregnant or not. even if their stomach look almost explode!

  21. Marcy 21

    LOl Cathy, doesn’t this sound like my post from a few days ago? About the women giveing birth in weird places… and the one not knowing she was pregnant. Definately weird!

  22. Harmony 22

    This puzzles me too. I met someone who did not know they were pregnant, at on of my girlfriends lamaze classes. She found out at six months, when she went to see a chiropractor for lower back pains…they x-rayed her and then notified her that she was pregnant…those x-rays must have looked really weird!

  23. Oh my! I hear stories like that all the time. I’ve never been pregnant before but I’m pretty sure when I do get pregnant I WILL know!

  24. All I have to ask is WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?
    Interestingly enough, I think people are sometimes just totally oblivious to their own body (bodily) functions…perhaps they should’ve been having the “poop” talk…?

  25. Cathy C 25

    That is just mind boggling – I cannot understand how you can be that disconected to your body. That physically and mentally does not compute in my brain. While I do not have children I was pregnant and lost the baby once upon a time and let me tell you I knew it ever day especially at 7:00 pm when I was praying to the porcelin god.

    That is one of those great mysteries of life!!


  26. Leah Q 26

    Well, this can happen – and what a wild experience for even you to witness this first hand. I am so glad (as she was) that your warm heart helped her through this unbelievable experience!

  27. jancd 27

    Alan, are you so bored or ignored that you have reply negatively to wonderful blogs just to get a reaction?

  28. Oh. My. Word. That is the most insane thing I have ever heard in my entire life. Next time I feel fat…I’m going to buy a preggo test. For sure!!

  29. jancd 29

    This is great ending to a scary story. As a woman of age (60) if I had been that woman, I would have thanked God every day for the blessing.

  30. ALF 30

    And these are the people who are populating the Earth. Great.

  31. Once I had twins. Double blessing. 17 months later another arrived. Bliss!! Six years later a surprise — oh joy! Three years further … DENIAL. I knew … but …

    p.s. I am NOT fat, nor was I then (merely exhausted).

    p.p.s. #5’s a corker. I am still not fat and am more puzzled, amazed, entertained, and joyful than ever before (though still exhausted on occasion).

  32. Hi Alan. I tried to link to your blog, assuming of course that you focus on health food and diet issues. I am a “health nut” according to my family, and always seeking new info. Though you’re not the most up-beat of writers, I thought it would be fun to come check you out since we obviously share a concern for diet and health, along with a healthy disdain for hot dogs. : ) But alas … you remain merely “anonymous” Alan in an ocean of bloggers. : (

  33. I’m way more upset at the doctor that totally missed that your patient was pregnant. I think we can convince ourselves of just about anything if we’re motivated enough. But what kind of exam did he give her that he missed a pregnancy?

  34. mindy 34

    Good lord! That last little line about the woman’s family doc is FRIGHTENING! These days, with so many women having babies at a later age, you’d hope most docs would at least consider pregnancy.

  35. Anon 35

    Well, without giving too much information away to a bunch of people I do not know. I was one of those women who didn’t know they were pregnant “for quite awhile”. no it wasn’t so late that i was on the toliet giving birth while i was thinking i had bad gas but it was pretty close. and nope i’m not fat (well not grossly disgustingly fat). i’m not proud of it, but i just wanted you all to know that it happens. even to people like me.

  36. Alan, your comment was ridiculous, to put it charitably.

  37. I think, at 50, pregnant is the last thing on your mind. Perhaps that was why it was such a shock. You were a doll to stay around to comfort her.

  38. magpie 38

    i’ve heard those stories, and i find them unfathomable…

    but i guess it happens from time to time.

  39. At 50 it’s understnadable she probably thought she was in menopause. Girl you are one of my most favorites, never know what I’ll find here. Some mouth watering something or a great tale. That doctor was an idiot, unlike the Wild Boar who has to be good; he does afterall ask about poo. That is a very good sign. Last time I worked I had 4 patients out of 6 who had not pooped in 6 days. No one had asked them. Several were having issues with nausea. People are taking their lives in their hands when they go to the hospital. It’s the rare bird who care sneough to figure it out, is it a baby or gas? Go figure.
    The vineyard is looking better and better, and such a Biblical life.

  40. Egghead 40

    Um yeah I felt each one of my four pregnancies so it is hard to fathom. I wonder if chickens can feel the egg each day. Just wondering.

  41. Lennie 41

    This is going to be long. Skip ahead if you want; don’t say you weren’t warned.
    Gathering from the comments above, I am one of the stupid ones, the ones in denial, the ignorant ones. But I’m here to tell you that, yes, you can be very pregnant and not know it.
    From the time I started my periods when I was almost 13, they have been incredibly erratic. It was common for me to go months between periods. So, while some women can be one day late and suspect they’re preggers, I never gave my period any thought. When I was on “the pill” it was of course regular, but off them? I never knew when I’d have a period. Also, I worked rotating shift work; I was tired all the time. So being tired wasn’t a symptom of anything but overwork. Thirdly, I had decided I wanted to eat healthier. Not necessarily less calories, just cut back on the junk food. So I had.
    So there I was…a woman who hardly ever got periods, a woman who worked shift work, a woman who had committed to eating a healthier diet. I had NO freakin’ idea I was pregnant. But I was.
    What are the symptoms? You skip a period. Not a sign for me. You get nauseous. Nope. I wasn’t sick, or even felt sick, once. You get tired, maybe your back is sore. Not major symptoms. If you have a sore back tonight, will you automatically think you’re pregnant? Of course not.
    I suspect I’m in danger of going over my limit of 3000 characters. So I’ll speed it up.
    I started to get abdominal pains when I went out for long walks (part of my get-healthy plan) and finally went to the dr. Told him about the pains. He had me get up on the examining table, poked around my belly a bit, and told me he thought I was VERY pregnant. I laughed at him. Laughed. Out loud. Told him that I knew I wasn’t pregnant, yeesh. That I had just bought a pair of jeans that were a size smaller. Do pregnant women fit into smaller jeans? Of course not, I told him. And besides, I told him, pregnant women are always throwing up. Well, he said, all super-serious, if you’re not pregnant then something is very wrong. That’s it, I thought, I’m dying. It hit me like a wall of cold water. I’m dying. He made me immediately go upstairs to the ultrasound clinic, where I paced the hallway drinking cup after cup of water and my husband and I both laughed at the very notion of me being pregnant. I kept hidden the fact that I now knew I was dying. Had the ultrasound. Technician kept the screen turned away so I couldn’t see. The guy had a poker face, could’ve made a fortune in Vegas. He finishes, tells me to go back downstairs to my dr’s office. We go. We wait. Finally, the dr pokes his head out and calls BOTH of us into his office. I freeze. Now I KNOW I’m dying, he wants to see both of us. We sit down. He tells us, by our calculations you’re 21 weeks pregnant. We were stunned. Speechless. And 16 weeks later, to the day, our healthy happy son was born.
    So please don’t be so quick to judge others. There are many of us who had different experiences. Thanks :-)

  42. She was in her 50s!!!
    Dear God, that poor woman.

  43. Tipper 43

    You always have the most interesting posts! I never know what I’ll find next.

  44. I have to agree, that’s always puzzled me. Even the hubs thinks there’s no way a man wouldn’t know his partner was pregnant. Which either validates my position or shows me for the delicate flower that I am! (snort!)

  45. Seriously? dude, I know I’m pregnant before I’ve even missed a period.

  46. You mean Doctors make mistakes?
    I read of a woman in Sweden who gave birth without ever knowiung she was pregnant , now your story, so I guess it must happen.

  47. grace 47

    i have to find it hard to believe that a woman can reach the actual giving-birth stage without knowing she’s pregnant. granted, i’ve never been pregnant so i can’t say for sure. i reckon denial is a powerful thing…

  48. Flea 48

    Oh my word! I’ve actually known a couple of people who didn’t know until just before the birth. One was a friend’s mom and she was a very large woman. My friend had been her only child, and he was about 15. Big surprise all around!

  49. Dragon 49

    Ah, denial. Great thing, isn’t it? Thanks for the story. ;)

  50. This blows my mind! I got a bit disturbed really…

  51. Vicki 51

    My mother didn’t know she was pregnant with me until she was 4 months along. Combine always-erratic periods with presumed infertility, and trips to Puerto Rico causing who-knows-what kind of physical havoc, I understand. She didn’t show until almost 6 months, then had me at 7. So yes, I can certainly see how it can happen, especially because the woman in the post was in her 50s!

  52. I hope that her doc didn’t charge her too much for the diagnosis… Good grief!

  53. My cousin was almost 7 months preggo with TWINS and had no clue. She had her monthly visitor every month and was on the pill. It happens.

  54. Never had a first trimester in any of my three pregnancies. Was 4+ months along each time because I felt perfectly unpregnant. Irregular periods always, no morning sickness, nuthin’ unusual. It was very nice and convenient to have 6 month pregnancies!

  55. That is so wild!

  56. Deborah 56

    I guess I can see how someone wouldn’t know, but I would think that if you know your body at all, you would know something was up. I’m only at week 13, and haven’t been sick at all, have barely gained any weight, but I just feel different. Even if you don’t suspect your pregnant, I would guess that you would suspect something. But that’s jsut me! and I seriously can’t believe that first doctor didn’t catch it! I’d be changing doctors!

  57. These stories always make me do a double-take, but I guess it’s possible for some women. I loved feeling Claire move, but after I had her I had phantom movements…I don’t know if it was just my brain playing tricks on me or what. They were never as rough as she used to be, but the fluttering was disconcerting. I have since ignored all phantom movements, so I suppose it’s possible that this woman could have been subconsciously ignoring them, too.

    Still…talk about an embarrassing shock!

  58. Kate 58


  59. hmmm….. ummmm, yeahhhhh…ummm….. I’ll stick to gas, ’cause I sure as heck was never pregnant…

  60. Katie 60

    While I can’t understand how a woman who has had 7 children before didn’t know she was pregnant, I can see how perhaps a first time mom didn’t know. Case in point- me. I’m a first time mom of a 3 month old, and I didn’t know I was pregnant until I was 8 months along. I was on birth control pills, never stopped getting my little monthly “insurance”, and didn’t get a belly until right before I found out. I didn’t even gain any weight- I lost 20 pounds. Yes, I felt the baby moving- I thought I had bad gas/constipation, which has been a problem for me over the years (wow over share). I’ve always had a touchy stomach, so morning sickness blended right in. To top thing off, about ten years ago, I was told that I would probably not be able to get pregnant. So there’s my situation.
    The only reason why I checked was because a bunch of people kept asking me when I was due. I thought I was just getting a little pudgy ’round the middle. My husband and I were just checking because there was NO WAY I was pregnant- we just wanted the peace of mind. What a shock we had!

  61. Cass 61

    There has never ever been a time that I questioned IF I was pregnant. I have recently started to question if I will ever actually give birth to this child….the professionals assure me I will…eventually. lol

  62. Liz C. 62

    I’m so sorry, but that just simply cracked me up. The whole story. You really are priceless.

  63. Kim 63

    Ok – this really happens. My husband had a employee who’s wife went into labor and they neither one knew she was pregnant and she was NOT a heavy girl! She was similar to Lennie – she had one child and worked long shifts and she had eratic periods all the time. She had no moring sickness or back trouble. She had gained 15 pounds but it was something they joked about. She just didn’t show much. Anyway she thought she was dying and was rushed to the hospital only to give birth within 2 hours! I could not believe it. Boy were they surprised!!!

  64. Wendy 64

    I agree with Katie – I went for a long time before realising I was pregnant. I had had very irregular periods, so being late was no biggy. I am now 7 months, and I am STILL in “normal” clothes. I’ve LOST weight, and my boobs have shrunk.
    As for the feelings? Well, I have IBS which means my stomach is contantly gurgling – and THAT feels like baby moving. So yah. Gas could be mista2ken.
    Oh, and yeah, I’m a size 24. :P So it’s TOTALLY believeable that larger ladies don’t show. As I said, I’m still in normal clothes and only have 8 weeks left. Aside from the odd stretch and kick? I don’t feel any different than I did before I found out. I feel great infact.

    One of the main things I’ve learned is that EVERY pregnancy is different – and it may be worth remembering that.

  65. Wendy 65

    … I will be the lone one who says “They are”. I’m large (sz 24) and ultrasounds have even been difficult for me – and PAINFUL!!! I’ve been left bruised on more than one occassion. I’m 7 months and still have no bump at all.

  66. Katie 66

    Get ready for your belly to ‘splode! I could wear my normal clothes right up until I found out (8 months-ish), and then I popped out practically over night. My belly got bigger every day- I swear I saw it growing before my eyes! That said- I still only looked like I was about 7 months pregnant when I delivered. My mom was positive that I had another month to go when I was going into labor. Pretty funny!
    Exactly one week before I went into labor: link to

  67. Wendy 67

    Thanks Katie. I kinda hope I do explode as I definitely feel like a fraud right now and it’s not a very nice feeling. I’m envious of all those delicious looking expectant mom’s and their bellies, sharing photos and such on the forum I subscribe to. I’m tired of feeling bad about parking in the “princess parking” cos I know I just look… well, my usual fat self. So I really hope I do blossom more. :D I have pre-emptively bought some maternity clothes “just in case”.
    I have an OB appointment today, so hopefully I’ll have gained some weight again! :D :D
    … and I love your pics! :D Beautiful and glowing! :D Thanks for sharing! :D


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