Unbearable: ‘I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant’ Is Torture To Me

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Having a child is usually a happy time in a woman’s life. Unfortunately, as we wait longer to have children, infertility and trouble conceiving can become a part of the family making process. Unbearable addresses these difficulties.

The very first post I wrote for the “Unbearable” column addressed phantom butterflies in my stomach. It was this odd sensation of feeling pregnant, feeling a baby kick. I’m a mother. I know what pregnancy feels like. You would think that I would be able to tell whether or not I’m having a little one anytime soon. Yet every time I turn around, I see a sign of pregnancy lulling me into a false sense of optimism. Until, of course, I take a box of pregnancy tests without a single glimmer of that second line.

So you have to understand, for a woman who constantly thinks that I might be pregnant, watching women who have absolutely no idea about it is horrible. I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant is actually more than horrible, it’s downright torturous. I see pregnancy everywhere and these women have no idea what’s going on at all? It doesn’t make any logical sense.

This program has always been a bit of a circus sideshow. We’re all in awe of rather unbelievable occurrence. And really, most of us are laughing at it. Have you seen Kathy Griffin’s bit about I Didn’t Know I Was Pregant? It’s pretty ruthless.

But I have a hard time laughing at these women and their cluelessness. So little about pregnancy is funny to me anymore.

Even worse than not being humorous, this show gives me just another sense of false hope. In a connection that I’m sure isn’t fully logical, I look at these women who have no idea that they’re carrying a child and think, “Maybe I am pregnant and just have no idea!”

I realize that this sounds insane and maybe it is, but let me explain. These women are pregnant without any of the traditional signs of pregnancy. Without the huge, bulging belly or the crazy heartburn. They think their kicks are indigestion and their exhaustion is due to lack of exercise. There’s a level of impossibility to these pregnancies.

So maybe, just maybe, all convention could be thrown out the window. Maybe I don’t produce enough of the right hormone that a pregnancy test is looking for. Maybe I’m one of those people who just gains a little weight but doesn’t get a huge belly. Maybe I’m not seeing all the signs because they are parading around as stress-induced.

I know it’s not likely. It’s not probable. And if I’m being really honest, it’s not true. That’s not what’s happening. I’m simply not getting pregnant. But that glimmer of an almost-impossible hope is hard to ignore when having a baby is all I can think about. I can’t watch I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant, but I also can’t stop knowing that those women are out there, defying logic. And I can’t stop wishing that I could be one of them.


  1. Eileen

    November 3, 2011 at 10:25 am

    I think I’ve said this before, but it’s so interesting to me to read your articles because I really don’t want to be pregnant right now, and so I find shows like this one terrifying.

    (please don’t be offended – I’m not trying to make light of your problem! I just find it so fascinating how two women can react so differently to shows like this one or other pregnancy-related things)

    • Lindsay Cross

      November 3, 2011 at 10:30 am

      I’m not offended! It is interesting that women can look at things so differently. I’m sure that I’m in the majority on this one. And I completely acknowledge that my point-of-view here isn’t really rational. It’s definitely an emotional reaction.

    • Lindsay Cross

      November 3, 2011 at 10:32 am

      *minority. Sorry, and I can’t even pretend that I haven’t had coffee yet today….

  2. Jen

    November 3, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Lindsay: Just wanted to speak up for the “I didn’t know I was pregnant” crowd. As someone who actually DIDN’T know she was pregnant until she was 8 months along (and even then, it was a life threatening illness that led to the discovery), I can tell you that not all of us are idiots. I was getting my period (or what seemed like a period) regularly, I was also working 6 days a week and in school 5 days a week, so I was too tired to be exhausted. Plus, about 2 weeks before I discovered I was 8 months along I had my yearly checkup and my GP didn’t even notice! And when I gave birth two weeks late I weighed only 144 lbs (at 5’11) and had no stomach bulge. My daughter was 9lbs.

    As someone who does not want to get pregnant again, this show TOTALLY terrifies me because it’s a constant reminder that no matter how much everything seems fine it could not be. I’m honestly not certain who the audience for this show is as every woman of child bearing age I’ve ever spoken with finds the show horrifying either for fear of being pregnant and not knowing it or for fear of not being able to get pregnant.

    • Natalie

      May 13, 2012 at 12:45 am

      Your story is soooooo similar to what I’ve just experienced. I was having periods that were (since I was on the mini-pill) as irregular as usual, but were still normal for me. I was working 5 full days a week in a school, wearing my same clothes, people were even commenting on my weight LOSS!! I found out about my daughter 24 hours after she was born when I woke up from the induced coma I’d been put in. After complaining of a headache (I didn’t even have any sickness or stomach pain), I had a seizure, my mum called an ambulance and before reaching hospital, I had four more seizures. While I was on the table in recuss, a doctor suggested they should do a pregnancy test on me. It came back positive and they did an emergency c-section. I had a severe case of pre-eclampsia and had had a series of eclamptic seizures. Doctors thought I was going to stroke and the doctors who treated me and paramedics who transported me, came to see me when I was in intensive care and told me how lucky I was to have survived especially since it was looking so likely that I was going to stroke and die or at least suffer some sort of brain damage. My little girl and I are still in hospital 7 days later, but I’m just grateful we’re alive and so shocked this could even happen in real life, let alone to me!!!! I don’t think any of us would ‘choose’ to ignore the fact we were pregnant, especially with all the life-threatening complications it can bring!!!

  3. Cee

    November 3, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    I know how you feel. My wife and I k now it will be a more..alternative road to pregnancy for us since we are a lesbian couple. So just hearing about women that didn’t know they were pregnant or who just didn’t want to get pregnant but did, really hurts because its just so easy for some..even if they don’t want it. While sometimes the ones that really want it really really struggle and suffer.

  4. adoption?

    November 3, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    Why isn’t adoption a viable choice for making your family bigger and welcoming a new baby into your home?

    • Lindsay Cross

      November 3, 2011 at 7:06 pm

      Adoption is wonderful but it is not the answer for every family. It’s very different from having your own child and I don’t think it’s fair to act like they are substitutes for each other. I’ve written about adoption here:

  5. Kelly

    November 4, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    “And I can’t stop wishing that I could be one of them.” – How ridiculously true this is…I’m 33, been off the pill almost 2 years, and nothing… Every time this show is on, of course it seems so ludicrous that a woman couldn’t know she was pregnant, but I have the exact same thoughts as you as well, just dear god, why couldn’t that happen to me. After a decade of preventing pregnancy, I never thought I wouldn’t be able to conceive.

  6. Utera

    April 19, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    The best one I heard was the lady whose doctor told her that she couldn’t have babies b/c of her PCOS. Kate Gosselin had PCOS and look at how many kids she had with fertilization therapy?! I have it too and STILL have to take the pill. Either that doctor was lazy or that woman was stupid.

    While it is possible for a woman to not know about her pregancy (by being on drugs or really obese) I think we can conclude that most of the women featured on this show are just idiots.

  7. Sian

    April 23, 2012 at 9:13 am

    I feel your pain. I hate stories of women who don’t find out they’re pregnant until 8 weeks or 12 weeks or six months or when they go into labour. Women like Snooki from Jersey Shore who were drinking themselves to death and didn’t know they were pregnant but manage to have healthy pregnancies. I found out I was pregnant at three weeks and four days. I took pregnancy vitamins every day of my pregnancy, I didn’t drink, I didn’t smoke, I didn’t even eat soft eggs and yet I had a miscarriage at 9 1/2 weeks. Life is so unfair and this show just kills me. 🙁

  8. omgstfu

    July 15, 2012 at 11:55 am

    stop whining. you cant be angry at some other woman because your unable to conceive. its not our fault our bodies work right. jesus.

  9. Jsmilor

    January 30, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    I honestly had no idea I was pregnant. My baby is very calm, and never kicked. I never gained weight and had no swelling. Frankly, I’m only 18 and had no idea what pregnancy feels like. I never drank or did drugs, my baby is healthy.

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