“I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” on TLC

December 21, 2009

Have you seen this show? It’s all about women who claim to have been completely unaware they were expecting until the moment they are rushed to the hospital in the throes of labor. In general, these women tend to be:

1. On the larger side. If you’re already a big person, I guess it’s easier to miss or misattribute the weight gain that comes with pregnancy. On the other hand, some of the women are slim but gain just tiny amounts of weight they chalk up to too many milkshakes.

2. Somewhat cavalier about their birth control methods. There are many missed birth control pills on this show. Depo-Provera shots appear to be another culprit, as they suppress menstruation for months at a time; our heroines tend to lose track of when they stop being effective before switching over to a different form of contraception.

3. Kind of clueless generally. Other than the woman with multiple sclerosis, who was both on bedrest (explaining the weight gain) and some powerful meds with weird side effects, the vast majority of these women really should have connected the dots long before another person’s head started emerging from them. There are a lot of  “you have got to be kidding me” moments for viewers, which is an enormous part of the show’s appeal.

The show is particularly entertaining because it combines real-life interview footage of the moms (and sometimes the dads, too, who invariably say things like, “I didn’t notice anything different about Janel,” in much the same way that next-door neighbors of serial killers always say, “He seemed like such a great guy) with montage reenactments featuring actors. The actors always bear a passing resemblance to the real people but are much better looking.

There are only happy endings on I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant – healthy babies and healthy mommies, despite the complete lack of prenatal care and pregnancies often spent whooping it up in bars (occasionally mom has only a vague sense of who the dad might be, and/or is unable to narrow down the date of conception to within a few months – these are exceptionally good episodes).

The show always concludes with interviews of attractive female ob-gyns, who want to make very clear (with varying degrees of judgment) that a) these women should have known what was going on, and b) they got very lucky, e.g.:

I know Janel said she continued to get her period throughout her pregnancy, but that simply isn’t possible [Janel is a dummy]. Occasionally there can be spotting throughout a pregnancy, but it doesn’t come at regular intervals, and most women [unless they’re as dim as Janel] don’t mistake this for regular menstruation. Furthermore, while Janel delivered a healthy baby, it’s important to remember that any alcohol consumption during pregnancy can lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which can cause a number of extremely serious side effects [we don’t recommend that other pregnant women follow Janel’s example of being a regular entrant in the Corner Tavern’s Friday night tequila slammer contest].


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