Ask any woman who’s had children,
and she’ll probably tell you
that pregnancy sucks.
Morning sickness, stretch marks, sore ankles –
晨吐 妊娠纹 脚踝疼痛
and the absolute nightmare that is childbirth,
which many women have described as the most excruciatingly painful experience of their life.
Normally, if a man said to a pregnant woman
“I know how you feel”
she would probably rightfully laugh in his face.
Unless, of course, that man was William Bennett
除非 那个男人是William Bennett
A seventy-nine-year-old man from Sheerness, Kent, over in the UK.
he’d experienced his 30th pregnancy.
This is the story of the man who kept getting pregnant,
and the extremely strange condition that caused it.
We know what you’re probably thinking:
Thirty pregnancies would be utterly insane for a woman,
let alone a man, how is this possible?
These are all fair questions.
Maybe your mind immediately jumped to Thomas Beatie,
the transgender man who reached tabloid stardom
for being the first public example of a “pregnant man.”
Or, for a more modern example,
Hayden Cross, another transgender man from the UK
who became the first legal male in the UK to give birth to a child in 2017.
But what makes William Bennett’s case feel particularly strange is
the fact he’s not transgender
and even if he was, at age seventy-nine
he’d be decades beyond menopause.
William Bennett’s strange pregnancies
had everything to do with his four daughters.
Every time one of his daughters got pregnant,
William would begin to exhibit the symptoms of pregnancy.
Specifically, his belly would begin to swell up,
and remain in a swollen state until the pregnancy ended.
This came as a shock to Mr. Bennett,
because this hadn’t occurred at all when his wife
was pregnant with any of his four daughters.
He didn’t, however, miss any of his thirty grandchildren.
The Bennett family was apparently breeding like rabbits,
and William was feeling all of it directly.
And before you say that all of this sounds like an urban legend,
these strange symptoms were corroborated by William Bennett’s general practitioner,
recorded only as Dr. Fitzgerald.
According to her tests,
during one particularly severe incident
where three of his daughters were pregnant at the same time,
Bennett’s abdomen bloated out by an incredible thirty inches.
If you’re having trouble picturing that,
that’s actually half an inch bigger than your standard NBA-approved basketball.
He’d need to invest in pregnancy pants and some very loose-fitting shirts
to live comfortably during that ordeal.
While no doctor was ever able to diagnose the concrete medical reason behind
what was physically causing William Bennett’s stomach to swell,
there is actually some medical precedent for the condition he was experiencing.
You may have heard the term “phantom pregnancy”
or “sympathetic pregnancy” thrown around before,
or the more medical term “couvade syndrome”.
While this typically occurs more in expectant fathers than grandfathers-to-be,
and cases are rarely as severe and dramatic,
cases of phantom pregnancy are actually a lot more common than you think.
In 2007, researchers at St. George University of London
carried out a study into two-hundred-and-eighty-two expectant fathers
who were experiencing phantom pregnancies.
These men had experiences that ran the gamut of pregnancy woes:
Swollen stomachs – like William Bennett -,
cramps, sickness, mood swings,
抽筋 呕吐 喜怒无常
pregnancy cravings, depression, insomnia,
孕期口味改变 抑郁 失眠
fatigue, fainting, and back pains.
疲乏 晕厥 还有腰背酸痛
In some studies,
doctors have noticed subtle physical changes in the biological makeup
of the men experiencing these phantom pregnancies.
There were slight hormonal shifts in prolactin,
testosterone, estradiol, and cortisol.
有催乳素 睾酮 雌二醇和皮质醇
Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Dr. Amos Gruneberg also noted that
hormone changes tend to kick in after the first trimester
and persist until birth.
While these dry, scientific descriptions
might make it seem like this experience isn’t too bad,
to actually have to suffer through this bizarre condition
is kind of a nightmare.
Why William Bennett had such a severe case of phantom pregnancy,
if he actually did have the symptoms
or if he ever even existed at all,
we may never truly know.
Whether it was down to a particular cocktail of hormones
or a really empathetic disposition
is a detail lost to history
But one thing is for sure,
if you’re a man whose wife or girlfriend is trying for a baby,
maybe invest in two pairs of pregnancy pants, just in case.
Thanks for watching this episode of the Infographics Show.
If you want more pregnancy facts,
why not to check out “what happens before you’re born”
and “what happens when you’re born”?
In the meantime, we’ll be over here eating some pickles and ice-cream.
Ask any woman who’s had children,