Sarah Holliday (40) from Colorado in the US says she’s been expecting for three and a half years.
Sarah believes she’s experienced a cryptic pregnancy.
It’s an extremely rare condition where her hormone levels are so low that her baby has an extra-long gestation period, she says.
She says she fell pregnant in July 2016 – but was told by midwives that she’d miscarried the baby when they couldn’t find a heartbeat later that year.
She thought she’d lost her baby, however her bump continued to grow – and she found a charity who believe her pregnancy was just progressing so slowly that the foetus hadn’t yet developed a heartbeat.
Sarah has documented her extraordinary journey in a series of photos and scans taken over the years, even her husband, Cornell (40), didn’t believe she could still be pregnant.
Her symptoms have continued to progress.
The couple still don’t know when their baby might be born.
"I'd always struggled with endometriosis and had nine miscarriages,” Sarah said.
"For this baby, I had a positive test, but doctors then struggled to locate the baby.
"When I got the positive test, I was ecstatic, both my husband and I were so happy.
"I returned to see a midwife a week later, who confirmed I was 12 weeks pregnant, but she was unable to find a heartbeat.”
This left many questions unanswered, forcing the couple to visit the emergency room.
"There, they were unable to confirm the pregnancy or miscarriage, and instead I was discharged – but I continued to have an ever-growing belly.
"I knew I was still pregnant, I never thought I'd miscarried at 12 weeks, but I couldn't confirm it – it made me feel as though people thought I was mad, I was called a lunatic, bullied.
"And when even my own husband expressed disbelief, it was crushing – finding Cryptic Pregnancy Awareness, it was like a boulder had lifted.
"The shame of it finally lifted and I felt ready to take on the world – I took the photos to document the growth, and when I was able to get the ultrasounds last month, it finally convinced my husband. He knew that I'd be telling the truth all this time.”
While Sarah remained confused, she began to research her symptoms, and believes she’s found an answer.
Sarah decided to have another ultrasound after finding a charity online that described “cryptic pregnancies” where the symptoms matched her own.
In the ultrasound, she claims, the technician was able to locate the baby, who appeared to be growing but very slowly.
"I believe I'm experiencing a cryptic pregnancy, where the baby is growing slower than normal, but is still very much alive,” Sarah said.
"I've relied on the help I've received on the charity to help me through. I believe that my hormone levels are too low for a baby to be detected.”
"Cryptic pregnancy is medically known and recognised as the pregnancy that goes undetected until approximately 20 weeks, or even until birth,” said Sheena Garrett, founder of Cryptic Pregnancy Awareness.
"However, this is the other side of this – where the women are well aware they're pregnant but tests fail to pick it up.
"This type of pregnancy involves a hormonal imbalance with various significant causes and due to the lack of, or very low levels of the pregnancy hormone HCG, many women are falling through the cracks.
"We believe that because of the hormonal imbalance, and issues with the placenta and uterine – like an incarcerated uterus or having a "tilted" uterus – these pregnancies are typically extended gestation, or post-term pregnancies."
Source: Magazine Features