Sally Bellando didn't crave ice cream and pickles, and didn't have morning sickness. She did have abdominal swelling but feared that was a sign her cancer had returned.
Then she gave birth by Caesarean section to a 5-pound, 14-ounce baby girl, Shauna Christine Ballando."She's a special little baby, definitely meant to be born. She certainly is welcome," Bellando said Friday in a telephone interview from Alta Bates-Herrick Hospital in Berkeley.
The pregnancy was discovered Monday after her internist, believing the cancer might have returned and spread, ordered a CAT scan of Bellando's midsection. The baby was born the next day, four weeks premature.
The infant, Bellando's first, will remain hospitalized several weeks for observation but so far hasn't shown any ill effects of her mother's cancer treatments, said hospital spokeswoman Carol Regalado.
The baby, however, does have a blood sugar problem possibly related to her mother's diabetes, Regalado said.
Bellando, 39, believed she was left sterile by chemotherapy treatment she was receiving to treat breast cancer that was diagnosed in 1989.
More recently, she has been taking an estrogen-suppressant that made her menstrual cycle irregular, sometimes up to six months apart, said her physician, Dr. David Bressler of Concord.
"Before I thought of being pregnant, I thought the cancer had come back and spread to my liver. I had a physical two months before, but there's no guarantee," Bellando said.
"I was mentally preparing for the worst."
She delayed going to the doctor for a couple of weeks until her husband, John Bellando, returned from military reserve training in South Carolina.
"I felt fine and I had none of the so-called classic symptoms, at least I didn't think so. I didn't have cravings and I didn't have morning sickness," she said.
Mrs. Bellando had complained of severe abdominal bloating in the last several weeks, but the cancer treatment masked the normal symptoms of pregnancy, Bressler said.
"If it hadn't been for the cancer treatment, her pregnancy would have been discovered long before now," Bressler said.
The adjustment to parenthood has been somewhat overwhelming for the Bellandos, who after 16 years of marriage believed they would remain childless.
But Bellando said friends and family have eased the shock. Co-workers at Pacific Bell already have arranged an emergency baby shower, she said.