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Mustard video: Norwich woman who didn’t know she was pregnant gives birth two hours after arriving at A&E with stomach pains

09:48 11 January 2014

Little Ethan Toher at home in Norwich with mum Teresa and dad Glen. Photo: Bill Smith

Little Ethan Toher at home in Norwich with mum Teresa and dad Glen. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2014

When mum-of-two Teresa Howard went to A&E with stomach cramps she had no idea that two hours later she would be lying in the hospital’s delivery suite holding her third son.

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Lack of symptoms

Teresa was taking the mini pill, which can stop periods altogether. She took a break from the pill days before giving birth and presumed the bleeding she had was a period, not a sign of labour.

Unlike her other pregnancies, Teresa experienced no sickness, excessive weight gain or aversion to certain foods. She said she was tired, but put it down to moving house, celebrating two birthdays in the family and preparing for Christmas.

Teresa did not feel the baby kick but said there were some “flutters”, which she thought were indigestion.

Looking back, Teresa remembers running out of pills over Easter and taking a small break before getting more from the doctors. “That must have been when it happened,” she said.

The 43-year-old was unaware she was pregnant and put the pains down to a suspected wheat intolerance.

Ms Howard, of Mile Cross Road, Norwich, was even doing 100 abdominal crunches a night before Christmas in a bid to get rid of the “muffin top” she had developed in the summer.

“I thought the weight was due to me not eating properly, pigging out and not exercising – but I was still doing my size 12 trousers up,” she said.

“I was running on our treadmill until we moved house at the end of September to try and get rid of the weight I had put on during the summer.”

It was Saturday afternoon when Ms Howard had such bad stomach pains that she called her partner, Glen Toher, to take her to hospital.

“Teresa phoned me on Saturday because her stomach had swelled up,” said Mr Toher, 42, who works for Parcelforce. “She said she was so doubled over in pain she needed to get checked out for this wheat intolerance that her sister has.”

On arrival at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital’s A&E department, the receptionist asked if Ms Howard was pregnant.

“We both said ‘no’,” said Mr Toher.

“But then the doctor came and said Teresa was pregnant, congratulated us and said her contractions were five minutes apart. Not only had we just been told Teresa was pregnant but that she was in labour.”

The baby’s heart rate then started to drop, so Ms Howard was rushed for an emergency caesarean section, but doctors then had to change their plans as she had started to give birth naturally. After entering A&E at about 1.25pm, the couple welcomed their third son, Ethan, into the world at 3.25pm weighing 7lb.

“At first I was frightened about not bonding with the baby because I hadn’t had the pregnancy to prepare,” said Ms Howard.

“But as soon as they put the baby into your arms, you bond immediately. I just wanted him to be OK. I just kept thinking ‘how did he survive in there for all that time without me knowing?’.”

In shock themselves, the couple broke the news to family and friends and said it has taken a few days for Ethan’s arrival to sink in.

They were delighted with the reaction of their two other sons – Kyle, six, and Connor, four – who could not have been happier to have a little brother. “They were really excited and have been very protective of him ever since he came home,” said Ms Howard.

She knows there will be people who do not believe her story, because she was always sceptical of others in her position. “I am the first person who sees these stories in the papers and on the television and says ‘of course you know when you are pregnant’,” said Ms Howard.

“I have had two boys – I felt rough almost all the way through pregnancy with both of them. I had heartburn, sickness, couldn’t eat properly and I was huge. But now I am sat here eating humble pie because it has happened to me.”

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