ANDERSON — When Nancy Graves began feeling a sharp, constant pain in her side, she was sure it was kidney stones or maybe the symptoms of pre-menopause coming as she turned 40.
Of course, a quick Google search said she was dying of any number of rare and mysterious illnesses, but she had to wait a couple days to get an appointment with her doctor Jan. 2.
“It was the last day of winter vacation, we had been down to Kentucky for a week and just got back,” Nancy said. “And the doctor decided to do a sonogram to see what’s wrong and she turns to me and says, ‘Nancy, did you know you’re pregnant?’”
The shock of finding out you’re pregnant during a routine doctor’s appointment is something many women can identify with.
But Nancy’s story comes with a couple twists.
First, just two years ago, Nancy and her husband, Lloyd Graves, were told after years of trying to conceive that Nancy’s tubes were blocked and that, as Nancy put it, “if the doctor was a betting man he wouldn’t bet on me.”
The second came as Nancy was just beginning to digest the joy of hearing she was pregnant.
“I was four days overdue,” Nancy said.
And that shooting pain? “I had already been in labor all week.”
It didn’t make sense. Sure, Nancy’s waist had grown one size around Thanksgiving, but whose doesn’t?
And she had continued to menstruate all year.
Thinking back, perhaps there had been a kick or two, but she’d always chalked it up to gas or just random pains.
And most glaringly, she had already had a child, her 14-year-old son Gavin, and should know what it felt like to be pregnant.
“I didn’t have any weird cravings, no morning sickness, didn’t look pregnant, nothing,” Nancy said.
After surprise came fear, as she thought about every cup of coffee, lunch meat sandwich and fish filet she had consumed during the past nine months.
Not to mention that all summer she’d been hauling massive packs of water bottles as part of her work as a band mom for Gavin.
“I was just thinking about all the things I had done that you aren’t supposed to do,” she said.
Before she even had time to process that she was having a baby — let alone that her daughter was coming in less than 24 hours — she was rushed off to Community Hospital North.
In transport, she called her husband, who was home sick with a massive flu and who had been asleep when she left for the doctor’s office.
“I answer the phone and she says, ‘Listen carefully, pack a bag and come to Community Hospital, we are having a baby today,’” he remembered. “My first thought is she must be joking, but Nancy doesn’t kid a lo … and then it all began to kick in.”
As he rushed to the hospital, he called his and Nancy’s parents and some of their closest friends to give them the news — often to stunned silence and with an inability to adequately explain that the baby was coming in a matter of hours, not months.
When he arrived at the hospital, still in stunned disbelief, Nancy had already been given labor-inducing drugs.
“As I go into the OR, they decide they have to do a C-section because (the baby) was so high up in her body,” Lloyd said.
When the baby was finally delivered, she didn’t cry — yet another worry for the couple who had all of a day to cope with their new reality as parents.
As it turned out the trauma of birth, coupled with the odd positioning of the baby in utero, had caused issues with breathing. Which meant their daughter, whom they named Sadie, would be stuck in the neonatal intensive care unit for a week undergoing a battery of tests.
“She has tubes and wires on her head, and it looks like your child is part of the matrix,” Lloyd said. “I didn’t find out until later how close the baby came to dying and Nancy came to dying.”
Nancy had lost nearly half her blood supply during the emergency C-section and Sadie had struggled to breathe at birth. But after a week in the hospital, both mom and daughter were completely safe and healthy.
For the married couple, both with strong religious convictions, the story is proof of God’s favor on their family.
“When we start to tell this story, we always start with, ‘I don’t know if you are a God person, but I don’t see how you aren’t after everything that happened,’” Lloyd said. “On the faith side looking at her, you are seeing the eyes and face of God, and if you don’t believe that, then you are seeing the true wonders of medical science.”
Lloyd also saw godliness in the work of his church family, who after hearing the news turned their third bedroom into a nursery and donated a huge amount of baby items they had not time to collect.
“It was like we had won a baby contest when we came home from the hospital,” he joked.
Telling the story a little over a month after the ordeal, Nancy still struggles to understand how she could have been pregnant for so long without knowing it.
“We used to watch that TV show (I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant) and make fun of it,” she said. “We can’t do that anymore.”
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