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Entries in Surprise (2)

Wednesday
Aug172011

Woman Delivers Surprise Baby: 'How Could We Have Not Known?'

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When 31-year-old Amanda Curry put on an extra 10 pounds last year, she attributed it to stress.

"I thought I was just gaining weight because I had been stressed out about a few things," Curry, a busy mother of a toddler-age son, Tyler, told ABC News.

And as Curry continued to menstruate, she figured everything in her body was normal.

"I had my period every month, so nothing shot up as a red flag in my mind," she said.  "When I was pregnant with my first son, I found out I was pregnant because I stopped getting my period.  I had morning sickness for the seven or eight of the months I was pregnant with him. I definitely felt pregnant."

Even when her mother told her she looked pregnant in the clothes she was wearing, Curry, who lives in Rochester, New York, didn't believe it.  It was not until one night in October, nine months after her initial weight gain, that Curry learned, the hard way, that her mother had been right.

"My back pain started in here [near her abdomen] when Tyler and I were playing," she recalled of the night she went into labor.  "I couldn't sit.  I was in so much pain.  It was doubling me over at the kitchen counter."

Curry's fiance, Brad, called 911.  The operator who answered believed Curry was having a miscarriage.  Once the paramedics arrived and transported Curry into the waiting ambulance, it was clear that Curry was not having a miscarriage at all.  She was giving birth.

In that instant, Curry became part of a small, exclusive club of women who conceive and carry their babies all the way to labor and delivery with no idea that they were ever pregnant.

The medical phenomenon of surprise pregnancies garnered worldwide headlines in December 2009 when Chilean Olympic weightlifter Elizabeth Poblete gave birth while training, unaware she was pregnant.  And now, the phenomenon has commandeered its own reality show, TLC's I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant.  

When Curry delivered a healthy baby boy, Alex, both she and Brad were immediately racked with guilt and self-doubt.  "Both of us wondered, 'How could we have not known?'" said Brad.

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 told ABC News in an interview last year.  "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.'  There are a lot of ways to talk yourself out of this."

In addition to weight gain and, perhaps, denial, medical experts say factors like stress, dieting, a small or inactive fetus, obesity, a history of irregular cycles, infertility or breakthrough bleeding during the pregnancy can also contribute to the "surprise pregnancy" phenomenon.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug122011

Spoiler Alert: People Like Knowing the Ending

Design Pics / SW Productions(SAN DIEGO) -- This story -- spoiler alert! -- has a happy ending. If it were a suspense novel, would knowing that make you enjoy it less? To their surprise, psychology researchers found that people actually rated stories higher if they knew how they came out.

So can ruining the surprise make a story more enjoyable? That's what Nicholas Christenfeld and Jonathan Leavitt found, and Christenfeld says he was at first stumped. Leavitt is getting his doctorate in psychology at the University of California at San Diego, and Christenfeld is a professor there.

"I was surprised by the finding," Christenfeld said. "I've spent my life not looking at the end of a book." He and Leavitt had 300 volunteers read 12 short stories, including mysteries or tales with surprise endings by the likes of Agatha Christie, John Updike and Anton Chekov, and rated them on a scale of 1 to 10. Almost without fail, and by sizeable margins, the readers rated them more highly if the researchers inserted copy near the beginning, giving away how the tales would come out.

"You get this significant reverse-spoiler effect," Christenfeld said in an interview with ABC News. "It's sort of as if knowing things puts you in a position that gives you certain advantages to understand the plot."

The researchers say their study did not give direct evidence to explain why people didn't mind having a surprise spoiled, but Christenfeld said he has some ideas. Perhaps, he said, people enjoy a good story as much as a good twist at the end. Even if they know how it comes out, they'll enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

"Writers use their artistry to make stories interesting, to engage readers, and to surprise them," Leavitt and Christenfeld said in their paper, to be published in the journal Psychological Science. "But giving away these surprises makes readers like stories better. This was true whether the spoiler revealed a twist at the end -- that the condemned man's daring escape was just a fantasy before the rope snapped taut around his neck -- or solved the crime -- that Poirot will discover that the apparent target of attempted murder is in fact the perpetrator."

The researchers say they're thinking about follow-up studies, though a controlled test of responses to films is more difficult than one involving short stories. But they've come away believing that surprise may be overrated.

"Other intuitions about suspense may be similarly wrong," they conclude, "and perhaps birthday presents are better wrapped in transparent cellophane."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio