When Lizzie Quah, a 23-year-old ballet teacher, started experiencing pain like ‘the worst period cramps’, she thought she had a kidney stone.
On going to hospital she was shocked to discover she was pregnant – just four hours before she gave birth.
Lizzie, from Bloomington, Illinois, has shared her story on TikTok, explaining how she travelled to the emergency room after being kept up at night by severe cramps on 23 June 2019.
She had developed a kidney stone previously, so thought she knew what to do. When she was admitted doctors agreed to give her pain relief drugs, but had to do a physical exam to make sure she wasn’t pregnant.
It turned out she was – and was already dilated eight centimetres when they checked her over.
‘Turns out [I was] in active labour and having a baby that night,’ says Lizzie in her video.
Just a few hours after the exam, Lizzie ‘pushed out a full-term baby, 6lbs 7oz.’
She describes the birth as ‘the most traumatic experience’ of her life.
‘I found out I was pregnant in the ER with a judgmental doctor’s hands up my vagina, then four hours later I gave birth,’ Lizzie told BuzzFeed News.
‘I didn’t get an epidural because it was too late to help me. I was in excruciating pain, I had no idea if I was having a girl or boy, full-term or premature, healthy or sick baby… it was a lot to process while also in labour.’
Lizzie explains that she experienced no signs of pregnancy and so had no clue she was growing a tiny human.
She gained ‘a little weight’, but thought this was due to a dip in her gym routine and eating unhealthily. She was more tired than usual but dismissed this as a result of working too hard.
Lizzie even appeared to have her regular periods, although it’s likely she had placenta previa or anterior placenta, which causes bleeding that could easily be mistaken for menstruation.
This, along with preeclampsia, made Lizzie’s a high-risk pregnancy – but she had no idea until she went into labour.
Despite all this, Lizzie was lucky to welcome a healthy baby girl, named Winnie June.
She’s now sharing her story to offer support to other mums and women experiencing health issues, urging them to advocate for their care and ask for help when they need it.
‘Whether you knew you were pregnant or not, women deserve respect, understanding, and support while birthing and postpartum,’ she said.
‘I was lucky to have an amazing support system and I still struggled. Advocate for yourself, find support, and don’t try to struggle alone.’