No time for even a pregnant pause
Mysterious pains lead to a happy surprise
By CHERIE BLACK
When Jason Britt learned his girlfriend of three years was pregnant and about to give birth, he thought she was joking. He had no idea she had been carrying a baby for the past nine months.
But, then again, neither did she.
Amanda Brisendine, 26, of Maple Valley went to a Group Health clinic Saturday night, complaining of "intense, sharp pains" that would fade after a while. She was sent to a specialist who ordered a pregnancy test. Her pains turned out to be contractions, and 36 hours later an emergency Caesarean section at Overlake Hospital Medical Center in Bellevue produced Alexander Joseph Britt, weighing 7 pounds, 5 ounces.
Brisendine, who works at the Albertson's deli in Eastgate, admitted to feeling a bit sheepish about not realizing she had been pregnant -- especially since she has a 14 month-old daughter, Melodie, to prove she knows what a pregnancy feels like. She said this time around, though, wasn't the same.
"I had no weird cravings and no morning sickness," she said Tuesday while sitting in her hospital bed holding her newborn. "He was hiding."
Flanked by her grandmother, Britt and his mother at a news conference called by the hospital, Brisendine explained how she suffers from polycystic ovarian syndrome and had one of her ovaries removed, and thought her pains were related to that. She was afraid of having her other ovary removed, she said, so she delayed going to the doctor until her pains were almost unbearable.
She said she had regular menstrual cycles, although the past few months were more painful than normal. Plus, she said, the baby didn't move or kick, letting her know he existed.
Dr. Jim Haines, chief of obstetrics at Overlake, who didn't treat Brisendine, said cases like hers appear every couple of years. He said her symptoms are consistent with the syndrome, which is characterized by irregular menstrual cycles. What she thought were cycles was actually bleeding during pregnancy, Haines said, which, at worst, could have meant the placenta had separated. Patients usually have obesity and weight issues, he said, which would have explained her 30-pound weight gain, further masking the pregnancy.
Her grandmother, Claudia Brisendine, said she was even giving her detoxifying tea every night, hoping to make her pain go away.
Haines said the family is lucky the baby is in good health, considering there was no prenatal care, no testing and Brisendine didn't completely quit smoking until last month.
The couple have a crib from when their daughter was born, but had no time to prepare with anything else. Britt, 33, a forklift operator who said he was getting ready for a Halloween party when Brisendine called, helped her think of a name for their son while she was undergoing the C-section.
"It's the quickest pregnancy I've ever seen," he said.
Brisendine said she wants other women to know this happens more often than people think.
"Everybody was so shocked, but they forgot how shocked I was," she said. "Not that it's a bad surprise, but it's a big one."