"I had a baby and I didn't know I was pregnant"

One day Hannah Allen, 19, was out clubbing – the next she was in labour...As told to Alison Smith Squire.

12:0AM, Apr 1

"Three weeks ago my life I was like any other 19 year-old. It revolved around my friends, getting ready to go out and then parties, drinking and clubbing.

I was planning my career. College in September and then working abroad – America or perhaps Europe. But whilst I love children – I was going to train as a nanny – having my own kids was something I imagined I’d do in the faraway and very distant future.

I’d met my new boyfriend, Jay, 19, a trainee caterer, three months before and we’d been dating. Life was perfect until I woke up at 2am on July 19th 2008 in agony. Clutching my stomach, I staggered to the toilet but before I reached it, a gush of warm liquid burst between my legs.

"Mum!" I screamed. I waited but although she and my stepdad were only across the landing, they were obviously fast asleep.

The pain was searing, like nothing I had ever known. I felt hot and shaky as if I were having a huge panic attack. I thought I was dying. Whatever was happening, it was serious.

So I dialled 999 (the correct number in Australia is 000) on my mobile. Briefly, the pain subsided and I managed to explain to the woman on the phone that I needed an ambulance.

"I’m terrified," I sobbed to the woman operator who answered. I began to explain what had happened but at that moment the pain overwhelmed me again.

It was then she dropped a bombshell. She said: “It sounds as if you’re having a baby.”

I was stunned and began trembling uncontrollably.

"I’m sending an ambulance," said the woman, “but you need to tell your mum."

I staggered into her bedroom.

"Mum!" I hollered again, breaking into tears, "I think I’m having a baby!"

From then on everything was a blur. Mum flashed the light on and her face was ashen white. As we waited for the ambulance, she looked at me in disbelief. "I feel sick," she said.

On the way to hospital, the paramedics examined me. At first they thought the baby might be premature. But then they reckoned I was 37 weeks gone. They even held a machine on my tummy and the baby’s heartbeat boomed out.

Even in labour I didn’t look pregnant. Looking back there were some signs. I developed a craving for ice cream and I suffered from indigestion, which I’d never had before.

But that was all. I’d had periods every month and hadn’t put on any weight. I’d even lost some, going down from 12 stones to 111/2. Never had I felt the baby kicking and I’d felt fantastic with no morning sickness.

When I reached hospital the doctors were equally amazed. Not that there was much time to have any discussion.

Two hours after I’d first woken up, my baby girl was born. I’d never even thought what having a baby must be like. But as I clutched my mum’s hand I thought I’d never known such agony. I had puffs of gas and air as pain relief but the stinging and stretching sensation as i pushed her out was almost unbearable.

I looked between my legs at her. She weighed 2.8 kilograms and was so quiet and calm. I simply could not believe I had just had a baby. The midwife cleaned her up and put her in my arms.

It was at that moment another wave of panic hit me. Was she OK? After all, all the time I was pregnant I’d been clubbing as usual. A month before it was my sister Emma’s 21st and I’d slugged about six cocktails just getting ready to go out.

But the midwife read my mind. "Your baby’s perfectly healthy!" she said. Twelve hours later I came home.

Friends and family were fantastic, if stunned. Obviously I had nothing but my sister Emma had gone shopping and my baby – I named her Chelsea – had everything she needed.

Still, my mind was working overtime. I didn’t even know who Chelsea’s dad was. And then there was Jay. I’d only recently met him. He lived in Manchester – I’d met him through an Internet chatline. And the last time I saw him, just weeks before giving birth, we’d had passionate sex. What on earth would he say?

The last time I texted him was in between contractions when I was waiting for the ambulance. Then, I’d just said I was having pains and going to hospital.

"You’re joking!" he said when I told him about Chelsea.

"No," I replied, "and I understand if you don’t want to see me anymore."

"Don’t be silly," he said.

I breathed a sigh of relief.

I do regret not being more prepared for Chelsea’s birth, not seeing her scans or looking forward to having her. Yet, perhaps I’ve been lucky. After all, had I known I was unexpectedly pregnant I would have been devastated. Worse, I might even have considered an abortion.

If you’d told me this was going to happen I would have been horrified. I wouldn’t have believed myself that anyone could be pregnant and honestly not know.

The reality however, is my life isn’t over. I still intend to go to college – eventually – and who knows I might even get to realise my ambition to travel. Nature, though, has flicked my motherly switch and already firmly bonded, I can’t imagine my life without my beautiful baby."

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