I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant | Vanessa Kleeburger
Thanks for tuning into this episode of MomTalks with Christa. I'm so excited for today's guest. We have Vanessa here. And I actually first saw her video on reels on Instagram talking about how she found out she was pregnant with her son and it was a complete surprise. And I know she went to the hospital with back pain with her husband and delivered a baby I think later that day. So, we're going to get into that story and dive right in. So thanks for coming up, Vanessa. So, for anyone that doesn't know, first, tell us a little bit about you and who you are, and then we'll kind of get into the story.
Vanessa: So my name is Vanessa. I have three boys. Landon is eight. Turin, he's actually going to be six in like two weeks. And then Quinn will be two in November. So I'm a boy Mom, I live in Ohio. My husband is a pastor and a football coach. And we just kind of live the rural life. We live literally in the middle of nowhere. So lots of cornfields, and it's great. We love it.
Christa: Awesome. Very cool. So, let's kind of kind of start from the beginning. I'll kind of let you take the stage and kind of share what happened. I watched your highlights reel on your Instagram to kind of like see everything's. I had so many questions too when I first saw I was like, Oh my gosh. Go, I'll kind of let you take the stage and just tell the story.
Vanessa: So there's a couple things that you have to understand the story to make a little bit of sense. So my husband and I, we met in college, we got married in between the summer of our junior and senior year. We went to school in Ohio. So we graduated that following May and then we decided that we were going to move to California. So, Tyler was going to seminary out there. He gave me a couple of different seminary options. And he's like, where do you want to go? You know, we have no responsibility, no real reason to stick around. And so, where do you want to go? And I was like, let's go to California, like why not. And so we pick up a u haul we drive across the country. Our families are still his family's in Ohio, my family's in Pennsylvania. And so, we go there knowing nobody, we don't have jobs, like we did have a place to live but just starting completely fresh. I had a job for a couple of different families. I was a nanny and then Tyler was going to school. And so, we were just kind of living this life with like I said, no responsibility. We go to work every day. And we did not have a car while we lived there. So we commuted by bike. So I biked everywhere we'd like to work, we'd like to the grocery store. If we wanted to go anywhere, we had to ride our bikes. And so, that will come into play later on. And so, we're just kind of living life loving it. And around December we start missing home because we are both used to, you know, all the Christmas festivities and the cold and the snow. And so, we're searching for something to give us that feeling. And so, there's this outdoor shopping center that was about 10 miles from our apartment and we're like, let's just bike there. They have some fake snow. It'll be fun. So we biked there. This was December 8, we biked there, we walk around, we bike home, it's about a 20-mile bike ride in total. So the next morning is December 9, and I wake up, and my back is kind of hurting. It's not excruciating, by any means but it's like it's uncomfortable. It's like, Oh, I wonder, I wonder what's going on. I tell Tyler and he's like, Well, I have to go to work, Are you okay? Do you need to go see the doctor? And I was like, No. We didn't even have established doctors because we're irresponsible millennials who don't care and we didn't even have an established doctor. I was like, No, it'll be fine. And so, it kind of goes away throughout the day, but then it comes back like it comes and goes, but still, I'm not really concerned about it. So the next day, I wake up, and it's a little bit worse. But still, I'm convincing myself like it's not a problem, it's not a big deal. The next day, it's like, what is the 10th or 11th by this point, and it's really painful and I actually took one of my friends gave me a muscle relaxer because she's like, Oh, this might help you, which I do not recommend taking medicine from anybody who doesn't like prescribe it to you. But I was desperate because I was in so much pain. And I took it and it did not help not even a little bit. My friend gave me like this heating pad. He's like, try this, and I was like, Okay, I'll try anything. And that didn't help. So my husband still like, we need to go to the hospital. And I was like, No, really, if I could just relax, I think I would be okay. So I'm like pacing the apartment. I'm taking really hot showers, because those are the only two things that give me any sort of relief, I do that all night long. I finally wake him up, probably around five or six in the morning. And I said, I am dying, I have to go to the hospital right now. And so, we didn't have a car and we called our friend, his name was Bryce. And we said, Hey, can you take us to the hospital? And the night before he was like, call me if you change your mind. And so, we called him and he's like, Yes, Meet me in the parking garage. So he drives us there and honestly, like, I don't even really remember driving to the hospital. I just remember Tyler saying, oh, the dates 12/12/12. He's like, wouldn't it be cool to have a baby on 12/12/12. And I was like, not even thinking about anything besides like my back hurts so bad, like, please stop talking to me. And so, we get into the ER, I could not even tell the triage people like what the problem was and so, they immediately take me back and they do all the things, you know, the preliminary things, they weight me, my weight is like, maybe a couple of pounds more than normal, but nothing substantial. They asked me when my last menstrual cycle was and I said I haven't had a period because I've been on this birth control since before we had gotten married, which kind of like, you know, messes your cycle up. I didn't really have one. And so, there's still no like, red flags. So they get me in a room, finally, the doctor comes in and he's asking me all these questions. I cannot even speak to him because I'm in so much pain. And he's like getting frustrated with me because I can't answer him. He's like, Is there any chance that you're pregnant? And I was like, No, like, I've been on birth control. I've taken it religiously, for you know, over a year and a half, there's no way. He's like, Okay, Well, We're going to do a couple of different tests and scans but we have to take a pregnancy test, you know, just as a precaution to confirm that you're not pregnant. I was like, Fine, Whatever. So I take the pregnancy test. He like immediately comes back in the room, and he's like, you are actually pregnant. And we're like, Oh my gosh. What like so shocked, but still in our brains thinking like, okay, this week, we wanted kids at some point, maybe not this soon, because we've only been married for a little over a year but still like, Okay, this is good. But then I'm like, something is seriously wrong, because I should not be in this much pain. So, my first thought is like, I'm having a miscarriage, like, something is going on. And so he said, I'm going to send you up to ultrasound, we're going to get the ultrasound, and then we'll kind of go from there. So, we go up to the ultrasound and the tech is like doing this scan and he says to me, you really didn't think you were pregnant? Or you really didn't know you were pregnant. And I was like, No, why find you like these people can see me, I'm in like a regular fitted T-shirt. I'm in leggings, like he can see my stomach doing this game like, there's no sign of anything. And so, he sends me back down. The doctor comes in, and he's like, you are actually nine months pregnant and you have to deliver your baby today. And honestly, like, I don't remember a ton about that moment, because I really think I was going into shock almost. I just remember crying. And looking at Tyler and his face is just like white. Like, he just has this look on his face, like what is happening. And so, I remember Tyler leaving to go get his phone from our friend Bryce, he was still there. And I'm just crying because I'm terrified because I just got this news and I'm having a baby like that day. I don't feel mentally prepared to give birth to a baby like to show up and to be told, like, okay, now you have to birth the baby without having any sort of mental preparation for that, and I was just scared. Like, I genuinely was so scared. And I remember the nurse, she like, looks at me and she takes my face like in her in her hands and she's like, you are in the best safest place that you can be, you're going to be okay. And I was like, Okay. So they take us up to labor and delivery, they check to see how far dilated I was and they could already feel hair. So they said, okay, you have to decide now, do you want an epidural? Or do you not because once you get past a certain point, like you're not going to be able to do it. And I had always said like, I'm going to go all natural. I'm just going to, you know, listen to my body and do what it says tells me what to do and I was like, I need the epidural because I need time to process what is happening to my life right now. So we get the epidural and I finally like can breathe, obviously, like everything is numb, so I'm good. And we start trying to plan as fast as we can. Like we needed all of the things even just like the basic. Like we didn't have a car seat. We didn't have diapers, we didn't even have like clothes to put this baby in. And our nurse, she was connected with a mom's group at a local church and she's like, Don't even worry about it like we got you covered and she actually got everything that we needed and more. Within a couple of hours, like we had, like a car seat was delivered, blankets were delivered. We just had everything that we needed. And I still like, I still think about that lady so often because she was our calm, like, we didn't have any family so it was just the two of us. And then this nurse who was so kind and sweet, and I'm still so grateful for her. Then we had to call our families, which was so scary. I mean, I was terrified to tell my parents like, Hey, I'm pregnant and I'm having a baby like right now. And they're on the other side of the country. And so, I called my mom, she had a Christmas party. And I was like, Mom, where are you? Can you go somewhere where there's nobody around you? She's like, what? is everything okay? And I was like, I just need you to go somewhere and sit down, because what I'm about to tell you is going to like blow your mind. And so I tell her, and she's like, what? she's just shocked and she's scared. She's like, I'm going to go home, We're going to tell your dad and then I'm going to fly out there. And I was like, No, I don't need that. I just need you to know what is going on like I will update you and I need you to be calm. Because she's not a very calm person. I need you to be calm so I can be calm. And so, then we call Tyler's parents, and they were equally as shocked. His brother actually thought because Tyler said, Hey, we're going to be adding a member of the family today or something. And he thought we were adopting a puppy. He's like, Nope, not a puppy, like we're having a baby. And they were just like, you know, also equally as shocked. And then we started talking about like, Okay, what are we going to name this child? We didn't know if it was a boy or girl? So we had a couple different girl names, but nothing set. And then we knew that if we had a boy, we were going to name him Landon. And so eventually, you know, it's time to push, I'm still numb so I'm like, Great, let’s do it and a couple pushes. And he was out, and he was healthy and perfect. And I just remember there being so many doctors in the room, because they weren't sure. Like, you know, what his condition was going to be because I had no prenatal care. You know, they just didn't know what to expect. And so, they had a team of doctors in there. But he was born, he was six pounds, 13 ounces. 20 inches long and absolute perfect. So, that is his birth story.
Christa: Oh, my goodness. So it's like it's like you had to like quickly just be like, Okay, this is my reality, this is what I'm doing. Like, was there any point in like, in that, what they're telling you that you're delivering that you're just like, this is a dream? Like, I don't believe like, like, how did you vote? Believe it or like?
Vanessa: I remember telling Tyler I said, do you know that show on TLC? I didn't know I was pregnant. I don't even know if it's still on but it used to be on. Like, I used to look at those women and be like, how do you not know? Like, there's no way that you don't know. And I said, I am now one of those people that did not know she was pregnant until the day she delivered her baby. And I mean, I kept apologizing to the doctors. I was like, I'm so sorry. I don't even know what I was apologizing for. I was like, I'm so sorry. And they're like, it actually happens more than you would think. And they said, It's all about placement. So the way my placenta was placed, says in my uterus they said, It's not your fault. I was like, I know but I just felt so much guilt. I think I felt guilt because you know, some women try for years to get pregnant, and then never happens or they do get pregnant, and then they lose their baby. And I just kept thinking like, I did nothing. I was not trying for a baby and I had no prenatal care and I just birthed like this beautiful, healthy, perfect, baby. So there's like, there was just a lot of emotional stuff that I had to unpack and kind of deal with after the fact.
Christa: Yeah, and so I'm curious to see like, if you're, you know, your percentages back so that's why you kind of weren't showing and so like, with your two other sons, like, was it similar where you weren't showing? Or did you kind of show more with them?
Vanessa: No, I had very normal pregnancies with the other two. This is a different story, but Turin was supposed to be a girl. They told us he was a girl. And then I birthed him and he was a boy. When we talked about a third I was like, Oh my gosh, what if there's like, what if there's two in there? Like what if there's like a surprise twin or something? I was terrified that something crazy was going to happen. But no, the other two were totally like textbook pregnancies, very normal. I had a belly, had some you know, morning sickness. And so no, everything else was normal with them.
Christa: Wow. So with this first one, you didn't have any kind of like, sickness like looking back? Was there anything like you're like, oh, maybe that's what it was or anything like where you're kind of wondering?
Vanessa: Yes. The first thing was, I was obsessed with Honey Nut Cheerios. Like, I could sit down and eat an entire box of Honey Nut Cheerios. And so, I think that was like the pregnancy craving and then the only other thing was I had a lot of groin pain, like the round ligament pain but I really thought that was just from riding my bike everywhere. If you don't know, like, if you don't know, the symptoms of being pregnant, like, you would never think that groining pain is because you're pregnant, unless you know you're pregnant and you're like, Oh, that makes sense. But I had groin pain with the other two pregnancies as well. And so, that was definitely what I was.
Christa: Wow. Because it's like, a lot of the, like, symptoms that, you know, women get through pregnancy are also related to like, just hormonal changes, or during, you know, their time of the month or just random things like headaches or nausea. It could just happen, you know, whether you're pregnant or not. So, if you don't know, and you're not thinking you are, you're not going to be associating it with it.
Vanessa: No, not even a little bit. And plus, we lit like, we were super active. Like I said, we biked everywhere, we were hiking, we were going to the beach. So I really think having that active lifestyle also helped kept me healthy. It kept me you know, kept my insides healthy and my outsides healthy and I don't drink alcohol, not because I'm like, against drinking alcohol, I just don't like it and so, that was not an issue. Like I when I think back, especially after having two other babies, and I think back of all the things that could have gone wrong. It just makes me even. I mean, not that I wasn't grateful then but especially now when I really sit down and think like, oh my gosh, you were hiking in really hot weather for hours and you were fine, and you were climbing these rocks and you didn't fall, like thank goodness, you didn't fall you know, all of these, I think of all the things that could have gone wrong. That did not. And we are really grateful.
Christa: And did you like do you take like regular like vitamins or like just like normal, like women's daily vitamin or something that you think helps?
Vanessa: I don't, actually. unfortunately, I do not take vitamins, we do eat, I think decently healthy and so I know that that helps. But I definitely took the prenatals, the second pregnancy, and the third pregnancy. But no, I didn't do anything. All I took that was my birth control. I was still taking that when I was pregnant with him. And that's another thing that I'm like that could have gotten so bad.
Christa: I always wonder like, I mean, obviously, like all birth controls, there's always some kind of chance you can get pregnant with them. But it's like, it's a pretty small chance, you know? And it's like, you know, and I think like, once you find if you find out, you're pregnant while you're on it, usually to tell you to stop taking it. And so, it's so interesting that like, it's still you know, healthy baby completely for the whole thing. So, that's amazing. And so I'm curious to like, since you have, you know, two other, sons now to like, what was the difference with like, postpartum? like, you know, I'm curious for like, not only, you know, the actual like, figuring out parenting and stuff, but like your postpartum health, like just being kind of thrown into like parenting and like, your whole life's going to change without the nine months to really prepare for it mentally, physically. So what was the difference between this surprise birth and the other two?
Vanessa: To be honest, my first with Landon, my first postpartum experience wasn't the easiest. Actually, of the other two. I just, even though I did not know that he even existed, I connected with him so easily. And it just felt like, Oh like, You're my son and I'm not your mom. And this is how it is like, I don't know, there was just something about him that we just bonded so well. And I think also, we lived out in California, we didn't really have a lot of friends out there, we didn't have a lot of distractions. And so, I was blessed to be able to just be at home with him. And so, I just had a ton of time with no distraction to just be totally focused on him, which I think also kind of built that bond up a lot. So, there was not a lot of like postpartum, depression, or anxiety. Thank goodness. There were like I talked about the guilt before of, you know, having this beautiful baby that other people do not get to experience. I did think about that stuff a lot. I thought a lot about the what if's and that kind of consumed me a little bit but as far as like my connection and bond with him, he was the easiest one to connect with. With Turin, it took a little bit more time, I think, because I had such a connection and bond with Landon that came so easily when it didn't come with Turin. It's like what is wrong with me? Like why don't I feel that with my second baby. And then when my youngest, I actually had really bad postpartum anxiety with him. And I don't know if it's because, you know, our lives are a little bit more established here and we have all these other things going on and I didn't take the time to recover and really focus on him if that's kind of what you know, made that different but with Landon, for sure was the easiest, the easiest transition. The third was the hardest transition but I don't know, Landon, we've always just had this different connection that I still have a different connection with him than I do with the other two.
Christa: Wow, that's so interesting I just was so curious about that. It's like, you know, just being like, it's like your natural, like maternal instincts, just like, like high gear and was like, I got this. That's really cool I was just so curious about that, listening to it like wondering if you know, there was some kind of different postpartum feeling there. And then you said, so your nurse on it, like, awesome, how she just quickly connected with a so it was a local church? That, everything.
Vanessa: Yes. And we are still I'm still friends with one of the people who helped coordinate that and we connect here and there. But Gosh, I don't know, because we did not have a lot of money, like California is expensive and that's like, one thing we did not think through when we chose that place to live. But I don't honestly, I don't know what we would have done. We, I, we did go to like, I'm talking like, we didn't have enough money to fully buy groceries, we were going to food banks like that's the amount of money that we had and so to have to get all of that stuff. I don't know what we would have done if it wasn't for that lady and just to not have to worry about it when she said like, Hey, I've got everything covered. We have a car seat on the way, you know, we'll make sure you have all the supplies that you need. And then of course, like as people from our communities that come find out, they are messaging us and call, it's almost overwhelming, like messaging us and calling us like, how can we help you? we want to send you money? we want to send you like a month subscription of diapers? like how can we help you? And just to feel that love and support. I think also, I didn't have to worry about that stuff so all I had to worry about was like connecting with my baby and loving him and bonding with him and not having to worry about all that stuff was so helpful.
Christa: Yeah, I wonder if that kind of played into like the postpartum mental health to knowing that because they say like, a lot of times like while you're pregnant you get like so many messages and people are always asking how you are. And then like, once you have the baby, they're kind of like, how's the baby? Okay, cool. And then like, you know, they kind of go on with their daily lives. But like for this, it was almost the opposite because it was such a shock to everyone, then they're like, okay, let's help her now with everything. So you kind of felt like this community and support around you. So it's kind of that's kind of cool and kind of interesting and its own kind of story there.
Vanessa: I also think too. Like I said, we didn't have very many friends. We had like one other couple that was our friend and the guy that drove us to the hospital and that was it. And so, we didn't even have people saying like, Hey, when can I come visit? Can I come see the baby? like, I want to come to the hospital, there was none of that. It was just Tyler and I with our baby. And occasionally, they would like bring us dinner which was great. So there wasn't like that pressure to let people into our space. It was truly like just recovering and figuring out like, Okay, we have this baby now, how do we do it?
Christa: Yeah you're kind of like, in that, like, I've seen like that, like, maternal instinct. You're just like, you don't have all these voices telling you this is what you should do, you should do this, do that, Don't do that. You know, you kind of were like, got to figure this out, let's just do it. That's cool. So, this is awesome. This was really insightful. I mean, it's just like, it's one of those things where like, I as soon as I saw the video, I was like I want to have her come on, and like, share her story, because you don't really hear of it a lot. Like you're saying, like you there was that show? I remember that show growing up seeing it. And, it's always like, you never think it's actually going to happen, like you've seen on TV. So you kind of think it's more of like, actors or like there's something you know, weird. But, it's so interesting to hear that how it happened. So I was like, oh my gosh, I got to find out. So, I always like to end these interviews with fun thinking questions, I call them just to get kind of perspectives of each mom. So, if you could have a billboard made today, or you could share one tip with moms everywhere, what would you have it say?
Vanessa: I would say, I actually was just thinking about this yesterday, because like I said, we have three boys and it just gets chaotic. Like, they're crazy sometimes and when I put them to bed, sometimes I think like, oh my gosh, I yelled this many times today, or they frustrated me so much today, or you know, whatever, I really need a break and I would say to every mom, you can yell at your kids, you can be frustrated with them, you can need a break and you're still a good mom. Like the very fact that you worry, Am I a good mom? means that you're a good mom and that's something that I have had to learn and remind myself almost daily, like you can feel like a terrible mom, but you were given these kids for a reason. And you're the best mom for them regardless of how you feel. So that's what I would say.
Christa: Love that. And is there anything that like this whole experience, or I'm sure there's lots of things but, like taught you or kind of give you perspective on in your life?
Vanessa: Definitely, be grateful. When I think of you know, like I said all the things that could have gone wrong with him, we're so grateful that he is the way he is and he's healthy. I would also say, because you're always going to have those people that don't try like, don't believe you. And I actually had a pretty close family member after he was born messaged me be like, You're lying, there’s no way that you didn't know you're pregnant, that’s why you moved to California. And it really like hurt me, because this was somebody who was close to me and I kind of said to them, like, why would I lie? Like, I'm not like to get into religious things but we've been married. It's not like, this is a baby that, you know, out of wedlock and even if it was, who cares? I'm like, there was no reason for me to hide this for my family, what would I had gained from doing so? And even on that reel, people were like, there’s no way you didn't know, there were like some mean comments on there and I would just say, you know, you know your story, it’s your story to share, it’s not your responsibility to make sure people believe you. And I've had to apply that and other ways in my life to like, you don't owe anybody an explanation as long as you're being true to yourself. That's all.
Christa: Yeah, that's, 100%. I feel like, like you said, things just life related. There's always going to be doubters or people that are just going to put you down or just be like haters about something and it's like, you know your truth and you know, your story and, and you can't let someone else define your life and define your story. So, that's great. So, last working moms find you and see more about your story and your journey, because you got you have that awesome highlight reel to where you kind of talk a little bit more about it as well?
Vanessa: On my Instagram handle is just my name, Vanessa underscore Kleeburger and that's it.
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