It is a well known fact that pregnancy is a specialty of the unexpected but sometimes what’s “unexpected” has nothing to do with the clinical condition of the patient. 

Two years ago, a male partner with two pregnant girlfriends both attended my clinic. They were due within weeks of each other; aware of each others’ pregnancy; didn’t get along and it placed our staff in an awkward position. We scheduled their appointments on different days and prayed neither one would show up unannounced to the other’s appointment.

Last week, I encountered yet another challenging experience. The husband of one of my new patients, looked extremely familiar. His wife appeared very upset but spoke another language. The husband had to interpret because we did not have access to someone who spoke her language and it was never suggested during her initial exam that she needed an interpreter. The husband was somewhat abrupt as I began to ask questions. I turned my attention to his wife and hoped that she could understand me. “Are you unhappy?” I asked. She shook her head yes. And when I asked why, she burst into tears. Her husband was clearly embarrassed and stated that they lived with his brother and pregnant sister-in-law which was a common practice in their culture.  It seems the brother was in our office the day before accompanying his wife. I asked the patient’s husband whether he was a twin, and he stated yes. My inquisitive medical assistant swore it was the same man who in fact had accompanied both women (perhaps wives) to our office. My main concern was making certain that the patient was not a victim of Domestic Violence and spent an unexpected additional thirty minutes during her prenatal visit. This week, I will review both patients’ charts to determine if we are dealing with twin husbands, or in fact, a bigamist.

The CDC estimates that 4-8 percent of pregnant women in the U.S. are abused by an intimate partner. In my next blog post, I will address the issue of domestic violence and pregnancy. In the meantime, I will also watch this patient very closely.