Plenty of women love to create dramatic surprises to let their partner know they are pregnant. But what happens when the surprise is on YOU? We spoke with 11 women about their most starling moments.
Photo via Rebecca Scritchfield
It’s not an ulcer!
Rebecca Scritchfield, 37; Washington, D.C.
After struggling with bloating, constipation, fatigue and nausea for three weeks, Scritchfield (pictured, left) made an appointment with her gastroenterologist. “My online searches suggested gastritis, food allergies, an ulcer or stomach cancer,” says Scritchfield, who, as a nutritionist, is well versed in GI issues. At the time she was nursing her then-11-month-old daughter, and assumed that that, plus her and her husband’s “lazy abstinence” method of safe sex (i.e., being too tired to do the deed), would render pregnancy an impossibility. Still, “the day before the appointment, my intuition told me to rule out pregnancy because I wanted the doctor to find my ‘real problem.’ I bought a generic home pregnancy test thinking, ‘What a waste of 10 bucks.’”
And then there was a plus sign. The new mom was 13.5 weeks pregnant and is now due with a second girl in June.
Hold the pepperoni?
Melanie Mannarino, 41; Springfield, N.J.
Mannarino and her husband had only been married for a month when the then-36-year-old magazine editor whipped up a homemade pizza for dinner one night, covering one half in pepperoni. A vegetarian since age 16, she snuck a slice because secretly loves the way it tastes.
Not that night.
“It tasted like road kill,” she says. “I covertly spit it out and asked my husband how his pizza tasted, thinking maybe the pepperoni had gone bad, but he said it was delicious.” Confused, Mannarino wondered if she might be pregnant—she had gone off The Pill as soon as they tied the knot, expecting it to take months to conceive. The next day, a store-bought pregnancy confirmed the pepperoni had indeed not expired, but Mannarino had a due date in nine months. Their son is now 4 years old.
When one became two
Hillary Dawson,* 32; Houston
In 2011, two early ultrasounds at six and eight weeks —both conducted by physicians—confirmed a viable pregnancy, with a healthy heartbeat and no warning signs of potential problems, so Dawson and her husband shared the happy “We’re having a baby!” news with friends and family. Their 12-week-ultrasound was with a new ob-gyn (Dawson switched practices), and an ultrasound technician started the procedure. “She looked puzzled as she looked at the screen, and I looked up at the monitor and saw this disjointed figure—it looked like the baby’s head was split in two,” Dawson recalls. “I remember saying, ‘What's wrong? What's wrong with the baby?” Finally, the tech said, “"You keep saying ‘baby,’ but you know you're having twins, right?’" In shock, the couple busted out laughing—and had a few corrective “We’re having two babies!” phone calls to make. Their identical twin girls just turned 2 years old.
*Dawson’s name and some identifying details have been changed.
Mike Mendoza, 39; Rochester, N.Y.
Mendoza and his wife, Lisa, are both family physicians, so they had a few old pregnancy tests lying around the house. The first test yielded a very faint positive; unsure whether it was a true or false positive, the couple wanted to compare it to a true negative. That’s when the male Dr. Mendoza stepped in. “Easiest test I ever took,” he jokes. Their kids are now 6 and 8 years old.
Showered with love
Chris Telford, 42; Corning, N.Y.
When Telford was 34, she and her then-fiancé were hanging out in the bathroom together as she took a pregnancy test (he was in the shower.) After peeing on the stick, she “hung out on the pot,” chatting with her guy through the shower curtain while waiting for the results. Then the “+” sign appeared and Telford said, “Babe, you might wanna see this.”
“He peeked out the curtain, saw the stick on the counter, then whipped open the curtain, yelled, ‘WE'RE HAVING A BABY!!!!’, then flung his wet arms around me in all his naked glory and kissed me all over.” Telford rocked a modest baby bump on her wedding day, and the couple welcomed son Sam four months later. They now have three boys.
The cherry on top
Wendy Jacoby, 46; Fontana, Calif.
When Jacoby’s nightly cherry Slurpee cravings grew out of control, her husband (no doubt exhausted from his midnight slushy runs) suggested she might be pregnant. They went in for a blood test, after which the doctor’s assistant came in and told the couple that they were not pregnant. Upset, Jacoby’s husband left to get the car. “A few minutes later, the doctor came in to the room and said, ‘Surprise! You are really pregnant,’” Jacoby recounts. “I almost killed the assistant. Then, when I went to tell my husband, he didn’t believe me.” Their daughter is now 21 years old, and Jacoby hasn’t touched a Slurpee since.
Photo via Jeong Lee
It’s not just a TV show
Jeong Lee, 37; Chicago
Lee was at the doctor’s office for her annual physical when, during routine poking and prodding, her internist mentioned that her stomach felt unusually hard. The chief suspects: Uterine fibroids or pregnancy. Considering Lee only gets her period once every four months or so and was planning to remain child-free with her husband, she feared the possibility of fibroids but never considered pregnancy. When multiple tests confirmed that she was, in fact, expecting, she was sent to an ob-gyn ASAP for an ultrasound. “All of a sudden, on the screen, we saw hands, we saw feet, we saw the heartbeat,” she says. “The doctor just kept saying, ‘Oh my, you are really pregnant,’ over and over.” How pregnant? Twenty-nine weeks along.
To answer the usual questions: No, she hadn’t gained any weight (though her dress pants had been growing a bit snug.) No she wasn’t tired – in fact, she ran two half-marathons. Yes, she had heartburn, but cutting down on spicy foods fixed it.
With just 11 weeks to prepare for a baby, Lee and her husband had to first get over the incredible shock. But now they’re psyched, and Baby Boy Lee is due February 8.
Happy baby pose
Elizabeth Gallo, 43; Evanston, Ill.
It took Gallo, a yoga instructor, and her husband more than two years to get pregnant with their first child, and they were thrilled to welcome daughter Josephine to the world. Just three-and-a-half months after she was born, Gallo began feeling nauseous and started gaining weight. When her husband joked about how funny it would be if she were pregnant, she took a test—and it was positive! The subsequent 10 tests turned up positive as well. “We made an appointment with our OB and my husband asked, "’What percentage sure are you that she's pregnant?’ and my doctor laughed and said, ‘Oh, Mr. Gallo, I'm 100 percent sure!’” Gallo had just began taking Baby and Me Yoga classes but had to switch back to prenatal yoga. (“My teacher just laughed,” she recalls.) Despite trouble conceiving the first time plus nursing, second daughter Lucy arrived just 13 months after Josephine. The sisters are now 5 and 6 years old.
Third time’s a charm?
Kate Marsh Lord; 36, Germany
In 2011, Lord’s Air Force husband headed off for a yearlong deployment in Middle East A few days after he returned, he surprised Lord with an adults-only trip to the Caribbean (their two kids stayed with grandma.) “We spent countless hours talking over daiquiris at a tiny place called ‘The Daq Shack.’ It was literally a shack full of every fruit you can imagine with a row of blenders running on a generator.”
Two weeks later, on the fourth of July, Lord, who had stopped taking The Pill when her husband was deployed, took a pregnancy test because she felt nauseous and her breasts were sore. That’s when the fireworks went off: Baby number three was on its way (he’s now a 22-month-old little boy.) Talk about a special vacation souvenir!
The mother of all workouts
Kate Hepp,* 36; Chicago
Hepp was getting a killer workout in at her local Crossfit studio while her 5-year-old son and newborn daughter were at home, but suddenly, she felt dizzy and faint. “I thought it was because I was having such an intense workout,” she remembers. But Hepp and her husband had only had sex once without protection since their birth daughter’s birth six months prior, so she figured they were in the clear. Later that afternoon, an at-home test confirmed she had a new workout partner coming, and their third little one was born four months ago.
*Hepp’s name and some identifying details have been changed.
A revealing ultrasound
Daenel T., 40; Jackson, Mo.
On September 11, 1995, nine days before her due date, Daenel and her husband showed up at the hospital for a routine ob-gyn visit. She had only had one ultrasound during her pregnancy—at the very beginning—but the baby had grown appropriately and had a healthy heartbeat throughout the nine months. But “almost overnight, it seemed I had put on about 15 or 20 [pounds], and my pregnancy gait had shifted from cute pregnant lady strut to full-on waddle,” she says, “and the baby was bouncing all over the place. One minute I’d feel a kick or a shove in one spot, and then the next, I’d feel a stretch and a punch in another.”
The doctor thought she was measuring big and ordered an ultrasound. On the screen, she saw two baby heads: one pointing up and one pointing down. Because her local hospital didn’t deliver high-risk twins (which hers were considered, as they were discovered so late), the family had to drive from Louisiana to Texas with Daenel having contractions the entire time. Jazmine was born at 11:40 a.m., followed 10 minutes later by Brandon, joining big sibs Narieka, Symone and Bryanna.