Pregnancy is no joke. The growing body, the aching back and feet, morning sickness.
While it’s a beautiful thing, it can also be a difficult thing.
But imagine getting pregnant while you’re already pregnant? Most people think that it isn’t possible, but it is.
It’s extremely rare but getting pregnant while you’re already pregnant is actually a thing.
It’s called superfetation.
Superfetation is a rare phenomenon that occurs when another egg is released during pregnancy, is fertilized with sperm, and attaches to the wall of the uterus.
Normally hormonal changes will stop a woman’s ovaries from releasing eggs temporarily once a woman is already pregnant.
The lining of the uterus will become thicker which makes it harder for another fertilized egg to attach.
A plug of mucus will form in the cervix to stop sperm from swimming up into the uterus.
Superfetation is common in other mammals but it’s only been reported a handful of times in humans, according to the New York Times.
Healthline says that most cases occur when someone is undergoing fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization.
With superfetation, you can even get pregnant by two different people.
That’s what happened to Jessica Allen of California.
She was serving as a surrogate for a Chinese couple.
She already had two children of her own but wanted to help others experience motherhood.
“No woman in the world should have to live their life without experiencing the love and the bond from a mother and a child,” Allen told ABC News.
She was six weeks into her surrogate pregnancy when her doctor told her that she was carrying two babies.
At first, doctors thought the original embryo split in two creating identical twins.
“He started moving the ultrasound around and he goes, ‘Well I definitely see that there is another baby,'” Allen said. “The chance of an embryo splitting is very small, but it does happen, and I just thought … I was very surprised.”
She had the surprise of her life when she gave birth.
She delivered what she thought were twin boys for the Chinese couple via C-section and she never saw the babies in person.
However, she was shown a photo of the babies.
“I did notice that one was much lighter than the other,” Allen said. “You know, obviously they were not identical twins.”
She didn’t find out until months later that the second baby was her biological son which she had conceived naturally.
“I don’t know how to describe it … we were floored,” Allen said. “We were like, how did this happen?”
She had to go through a complicated process and fight for custody of her own son. That process took about 10 months.
“He’s just so smart, so intelligent,” Allen said her youngest son. “He’s learning fast. He’s got two big brothers to run after and learn from.”
Dr. Jennifer Ashton told ABC News that situations like this are an important reason why legal contracts are solid if you are a surrogate or use a surrogate.
Learn more about Allen’s story below.
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