Baby Isabella came out perfect, with 10 fingers, 10 toes—and totally unexpected.
Her mother Amanda Usterbowski rushed into the hospital complaining of chest pains on a Saturday, and left with a diagnosis she didn't see coming: She was five months pregnant.
That night, after experiencing blood loss in her sleep, she darted back to the hospital, where doctors diagnosed her as in labor. After an emergency C-section, Isabella Rose made her grand entrance on Sunday, Aug. 22 at 2:28 a.m. (8/22, at 2:28).
All 2 pounds, 10 ounces of her.
Now 6 months old and a healthy 18 pounds, she may become one of the youngest to have her 15 minutes of fame. Usterbowski will appear on the TLC show I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant, disclosing the story of Isabella's birth.
"It never even crossed my mind that I was pregnant," Usterbowski said.
Her menstrual cycles had always been irregular, she had not gained any weight and showed no other symptoms of pregnancy. The initial blood tests showed that she was five weeks pregnant, which she said seemed logical. But the doctor contradicted that, saying she was closer to five months.
"When they said five months, I thought 'At least I have four more months ...'" Usterbowski said.
But Isabella had other plans. Usterbowski was actually seven months along when her impromptu birth the next day caught the mother and her boyfriend Joe Humbles off-guard. Though Usterbowski had not taken any pre-natal care measures, the baby, though small, was otherwise in perfect health. Isabella's low birth weight kept her in the hospital for two months, which bought the couple time to gather baby necessities: a bassinet, crib, car-seat, bottles, diapers, etc. They stayed alongside her bed at University of Chicago hospital, as donations of baby supplies trickled in from friends and family.
"I don't think it actually got a chance to sink in, because it all happened so fast," she said.
"It was all unexpected, but it was definitely good. I love it."
The biggest adjustment of her unexpected motherhood has been waking up in the middle of the night when her daughter cries. After Isabella first arrived home, Usterbowski had to rouse her every 2 to 3 hours to eat, to help compensate for the baby's low birth weight.
The doctors don't know why the stoic pregnancy happened, or if it could happen again, she said. She wishes she could have known earlier than the day before Isabella's birth; she would have taken steps for proper pre-natal care, quit smoking, and undergone ultrasounds—maybe even a baby shower before her baby's birth, like most expectant mothers.
But many want to know how she didn't know.
"Some people say she could have just been really far in my back," she said, referring to the baby's position in the womb.
She admits that maybe she missed other indicators, like heightened senses.
"Now that I look back, I can see a lot of things that I should have noticed," she said. Though she smokes, she said she couldn't stand the smell of an ashtray set in front of her.
Isabella's TV Debut
In early January, after prodding by friends, Usterbowski e-mailed TLC to pique their interest in her story. She didn't hear back initially. They followed up near the middle of January, asking her for additional details. Usterbowski was having second thoughts and didn't reply immediately. After a second e-mail from TLC in February, she responded and set the show in motion.
The crew visited her home, filmed her interviews about the pregnancy and whisked away again in three hours. She's unsure when the episode will air, but should receive notification from TLC.
The show should give credence to her story, which even some of her friends didn't believe. She called friends from her hospital bed after the delivery, but many didn't wrap their heads around it until they had proof: an album of photos featuring Isabella.
Every Tuesday, Isabella goes on a little field-trip. Usterbowski is friends with Jennifer Conway, who is close with Juliana Ramos and her mother Janet Barnes. The mother-daughter twosome visits Juliana, as a method of therapy.
Barnes and family hope that the interaction will help inspire Ramos in her recovery efforts. Usterbowski said she thinks it's working. On their last visit, Juliana reached for Isabella at first sight.