Michigan Mom Was Pregnant and Didn't Know It

Carrie Emmons was unaware she was pregnant before she gave birth to baby boy.

January 11, 2010, 12:35 PM

Jan. 12, 2010— -- When Carri Emmons woke up in the middle of the night last April, she thought she was coming down with something. Instead, moments later, she was in her bathtub, positioning herself to give birth to a baby that she had no idea she was carrying.

"I started getting really bad cramps and then it seemed to get a little bit stronger, more uncomfortable," said Emmons, 27, and already a mother of three. "I just felt a lot of pressure, like I had to go to the bathroom. ...and when I sat down ...it was a lot of fluid."

"I heard her just screaming, like blood curdling scream," said Carri's husband, Ryan Emmons, 32. "And I opened up the door and she was in the tub, holding her, propping herself up and screaming, 'I'm bleeding everywhere.'"

Ryan called 911 and told the dispatcher that his wife was having a baby. "I think she's in labor right now," he said, with Carri's screams audible in the background.

Before the 911 operator could even take down the Emmons' address, Ryan blurted out, "Oh, my god, I'm looking at a baby! ...I didn't know my wife was pregnant."

Surprise pregnancies and births have made headlines before. In December 2009, Chilean Olympic weightlifter Elizabeth Poblete gave birth while training, unaware she was pregnant. And TLC has dedicated an entire show, "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant," to the phenomenon.

Carri and Ryan Emmons could only get help over the phone, since the closest paramedics were stationed 20 miles away from their Michigan home. Dispatcher Angi Adams, 36, coached Ryan, telling him to get his wife to lie down and make her as comfortable as possible.

"Sh**, she's in the tub and it's full of blood and it's really gross," he said on the call.

The entire surprise birth was recorded on the 911 call.

"I just remember, you know, I was kneeling. You know, I wasn't laying down or anything. And he just kind of fell into my arms," Carri told "20/20." "I think I was in shock. ...I didn't know what was happening. I mean, the pain was like labor pain."

Click here to listen to the 911 call

Following the dispatcher's lead, Ryan wiped off the baby's mouth and nose with a dry towel. The couple's three older children: Tyler, 10; Dylan, 8; Alexia, 6 -- who all awoke from the screaming and were in tears from the blood -- were quickly put to work, getting towels.

The baby boy was hardly moving. No loud cries -- just a few whimpers.

"The first thing I thought of is, 'We didn't know about this. It's stillborn,'" Ryan told "20/20." "I didn't know if he was alive. I didn't know if he was OK. I didn't know if she was OK."

Frantic Father Rushes to Tie Umbilical Cord

Ryan was panicked, but the umbilical cord needed to be tied immediately, so the baby could try to survive on his own. Ryan sent 10-year-old Tyler to find a shoelace from his sneakers to tie off the cord and dispatcher Angi Adams took Ryan and Carri through the final steps before help arrived on the scene.

Ryan: "Oh, my god, this is so bizarre."

Dispatcher: "You all OK?"

Ryan: "Yeah, other than the fact that we're completely shocked...."

Ryan: "Oh, my god. ...I can't believe she didn't know."

Dispatcher: "OK, I want you, how's mom doing? I know she's sore...Can you get a blanket, to maybe wrap her in a blanket?"

Ryan: "I did not know she was f***ing pregnant. Excuse my language."

After three children, how could Carri have gone nine months unaware of the baby growing inside of her?

These parents knew the telltale signs of pregnancy, but this time Carri said nothing made sense. There were no pregnancy symptoms -- no morning sickness, mood swings or cravings. Her menstrual cycle was always erratic -- so that wasn't a clue either.

And with her first two pregnancies, Carri put on a lot of weight. Pregnant with second child Dylan, she said she gained about 60 pounds. This time, she only put on 10 pounds -- weight she thought she gained because she stopped smoking.

Click here to see photos of Carri's first two pregnancies

During her other pregnancies, Carrie had consistent prenatal care.

"That was the first thought I had when I delivered him ... 'There's no way this baby's alive.' It scared me," she said. "I thought, you know, we didn't know he was there. How can he be healthy?"

Tim Foster was one of the first paramedics to arrive on the scene that night in April 2009.

"Usually, when mothers deliver babies at home, they're usually premature ...and the outcome's usually never good," he said.

Carri was strapped to a gurney for the 25-mile trip to the hospital. Finally, doctors assuaged their fear and anxiety: Carri's baby boy was healthy -- and big. He weighed in at 9 pounds, 9 ounces.

They named the baby William Gerald Emmons after his late grandfathers.

"Her dad and my dad had passed," said Ryan. "And we had a hard time with it. And we just thought that maybe they're upstairs laughing at us, thinking that, you know, 'We're still up here and we, we're watching you guys.' And, you know, we, we thought that that was a gift from my dad and her dad. So we named them William from her dad and Gerald for mine."

Family Didn't Know Carri Was Pregnant

Carri's family was soon told the unimaginable news. Her older sister, Kelli Sabin, thought it was a prank.

"The phone rang... I looked at the clock and I thought, 'Oh, this is not good to get a call from my mom this early in the morning... And she said, 'Your sister gave birth last night.' And I stopped for a second and said, 'To what?'" Sabin recalled.

Sabin had just seen her sister at Easter dinner -- only four days before the birth -- and said she didn't notice any signs that Carri was pregnant.

In fact, over the previous nine months, nobody noticed any signs of pregnancy. Carri said no one had asked her if she was pregnant.

Dr. Ashley Roman, a clinical assistant professor at NYU School of Medicine and a specialist in high-risk pregnancies, said surprise pregnancies aren't so implausible after all.

"There really doesn't seem to be much scientific data on this topic, but I think if you were to poll every obstetrician, we've all seen it at some point in our career," Roman said. "We've seen the woman who comes in at term or near term and who didn't realize she was pregnant, and gives birth."

Roman said there are reasons a woman can carry a baby full-term and miss the signs.

"What's difficult, what many people say is, but how could you miss your growing belly? But some women tend to hide it well, their body just simply disguises it," she said. "They might chalk it up to the fact that they, maybe, they've put on a couple pounds and, 'I've gained weight for one reason or another.' You know, they're getting older, their metabolism has changed. There are a lot of ways to talk yourself out of this."

But Carri and Ryan were not in denial.

Visit the "20/20" Web site and watch "20/20" Friday at 10 p.m. ET to find out the medical mystery behind Carri's surprise pregnancy

Rumors of Affair Fly; Public Reaction Stuns Couple

Within days, questions and terrible rumors took over the airwaves and blogs when the 911 call was released to the media. The public reaction stunned the couple.

"One of my best friends had called me and told me the local radio station was dragging our name through the mud. And of course it really ticked me off," Ryan said.

The station suggested Carri had had an affair.

"I'm like, 'How dare you assume my wife would do something like that?" Ryan said. "I felt foolish to even consider that possibility."

"We love each other, we trust each other. He looked at me and I, and I knew what he was thinking. And I said, 'You don't even have to question me about that.' And he said, 'I didn't think so.' And that was all that was ever said," Carri told "20/20."

"And I'm like, 'No, I'm not questioning my wife.' I'm just, 'how in the heck did this happen?'" he said.

Even Carri's sister had a fleeting moment of suspicion. "What naturally would cross everyone's mind was...you know, was my sister with someone else?... And I did have to ask my sister...And she kinda laughed," Sabini said.

The couple did not want a DNA test to prove what they already knew.

"Everybody in this world likes to think of the darkest and the most disgusting thing they can think of. And that's, if that makes them happy, then they can go and believe what they want," Ryan added. "But we know the truth. We know what happened."

But if Carri didn't stray from her marriage, how could she have been pregnant?

Visit the "20/20" Web site and watch "20/20" Friday at 10 p.m. ET to find out the medical mystery behind Carri's surprise pregnancy

Nine months later, William has two teeth and is crawling. The Emmons still aren't able to make complete sense of their surprise pregnancy, but he's a welcome addition to the clan for his older brothers and sister, who still remember the frantic night of his birth.

"I remember my mom screaming," said Dylan, 8. "I remember my mom just really [in] strong pain, I remember lots of blood in the bathtub, and I …was afraid that she had to go to the hospital."

"I'm worried about my other three children," Carri said. "They've seen a lot. They're worried about mom. My daughter was very upset, scared."

Carri and Ryan say the kids got a quick lesson about the birds and the bees that night.

"I learned where babies come," Dylan said. "I just learned a baby has an umbilical cord."

And there is no doubt William is Ryan's son and a member of their growing family. "He looks just like me," Ryan said, pointing to an old framed baby photo of Ryan's dad.

When Carri looks at her son, she marvels at his health, his strength and his vigor. "He's incredible," she said.

"I still question how it happens," she added. "I do think, you know, everybody has a plan in their life and this one certainly was meant to be."

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