I thought my appendix was bursting

I thought my appendix was bursting

  • The mother did not know that she could become pregnant after undergoing four rounds of IVF
  • She did not show up and even lost weight during pregnancy due to the gastric balloon



A mum has told how she thought her appendix had burst, only to discover she was pregnant when she was taken to hospital with stomach pains.

Natalie Austin, from Ash, Kent, had no idea she was pregnant and actually lost weight while carrying her ‘little miracle’, Darcey, who has Down syndrome.

She convinced herself that the random stomach movements she was experiencing were due to gas, not a baby kicking in her womb.

The 40-year-old production manager didn’t even know she could get pregnant, given the difficulties she and her husband Rob, 39, were facing.

The couple had already given birth to Eloise, who was born 15 months ago After four cycles of IVF After a decade of trying.

Natalie Austin, 40, (pictured left holding baby Darcy) lives in Ash, Kent, with her husband Rob, 39, (pictured right) She didn’t know she could get pregnant – her first child, Eloise, was born (pictured Middle) after four cycles of artificial insemination

Fearing a sudden problem with her appendix, Mr Austen took her to Kent and Canterbury Hospital.

As a routine procedure, the staff took a pregnancy test and the result was positive.

Doctors fear that the pregnancy may be ectopic, as the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. It can be a life-threatening condition.

Ms Austin was taken by ambulance to the emergency department at nearby William Harvey Hospital.

Staff there found that she was in labor and about to give birth.

Mrs Austen had no idea she was pregnant and put her pregnancy symptoms down to a stomach balloon, but says Darcey is a “miracle”.

About 1 in 2,500 pregnant women doesn’t know they’re pregnant until they’re almost ready to give birth.

This equates to around 300 cases of ‘concealed pregnancy’, as they are called, in the UK each year.

Cryptic pregnancy usually affects young women, who have never been pregnant before, or women who think they have already gone through menopause.

Darcey was born by caesarean section because she was in a difficult situation.

She had also given birth eight weeks premature and was transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Darcey turned out to have Down Syndrome, and had to battle infections, including pneumonia and MRSA, during her time in the hospital.

She finally returned home to her parents and older sister last week after spending nearly 130 days in hospital.

Darcy was diagnosed with the genetic condition Trisomy 21, or Down Syndrome, and also had to fight infections including pneumonia and MRSA and remained in hospital for several months.

Discussing her ordeal, Ms Austin said: “It all happened so quickly, there was no time to process it.”

“Darcy is a little miracle.”

“I don’t like to say it, and when we were doing IVF, we were very determined not to be corny and say it was a miracle, but it seemed right for her.

She required resuscitation and took her first breath more than a minute later. When I looked at her it was a moment, that magical moment.

“She was so weak and so small…

“It was very up and down, and at times we thought she would never come home.”

Within a few weeks, all the equipment was turned off and the units were able to be moved. But Darcy went straight back to the neonatal intensive care unit where she developed pneumonia.

Darcy is now four months old and adjusting to life at home after spending months in hospital

“Looking back, it was a lot to deal with, but we tend to keep dealing with whatever is thrown at us, so we dealt with what was in front of us,” Ms Austin said.

Ms Austin had a gastric balloon, meaning she lost weight during pregnancy.

However, it is not clear when the temporary device – which operates for up to six months – was installed.

The NHS advises women who undergo a gastric balloon not to become pregnant for at least a year after surgery. ‘If you are Its advice page says: “If you become pregnant, additional supplements will be required and you should therefore contact your obesity team immediately.”

She said: “I did a lot in those seven months, including moving the house and lifting heavy furniture.

“I remember one day we went to get pizza and I hadn’t eaten carbs for six months, and I actually lifted my shirt to show Rob and said my body didn’t look like pizza, because my stomach was moving but I thought it was gas.

“I never dreamed for a second that I would get pregnant, as it took so long for us to have Eloise – we tried for almost 10 years.”

Darcy is now four months old and adjusting to life at home with her sister Eloise.

Mrs Austin said: “We are so happy to have Darcy here and it is amazing to finally have her at home with us.”

How common are cryptic pregnancies?

One in every 2,500 women is unaware of the fact that she is pregnant until she goes into labor.

It’s a phenomenon known as cryptic pregnancy – also referred to as ‘pregnancy denial’.

Cryptic pregnancy usually affects either young women, who have never been pregnant, or women who believe they have gone through menopause and who have chosen not to use contraception.

Women with irregular menstrual cycles are also more likely to miss the signs they expect. This is especially true for women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), where small cysts grow on the ovaries; Hormonal imbalance often leads to irregular or nonexistent periods.

However, there are some women who continue to experience monthly bleeding throughout their pregnancy. In this case, a check-up with your local GP may be the only way to confirm.

Women may simply not expect to find they are pregnant if they are taking the pill – but then those who take them religiously can become pregnant.

Fewer than one in 100 women who take the pill every year get pregnant if they are an ‘ideal’ user.

But nine out of every 100 “typical” users – those who miss the pill or take it irregularly – will become pregnant every year.

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