Dear ones, in pregnancy it was exciting to go to the prenatal appointments. Basically it felt like a rendezvous with your own baby. But what if suddenly abnormalities appear? When the blessing of prenatal diagnostics becomes a curse? Because maybe a misdiagnosis was made… that’s exactly what happened to our reader. it was said that the child in her belly was no longer alive. But that was not true. Here she tells her story.
"The fourth pregnancy: two lines on the test, I send the picture of it to my boyfriend on Monday morning via WhatsApp. He calls me immediately, we are happy on the phone, but hugely. As an already mother of three, I now know how it goes, at least some routine. But what happens in the next weeks is not normal. A shock, then weeks of brooding – and probably all for nothing. Because of a misdiagnosis that might affect other women as well.
"I don’t see a heartbeat anymore"
But from the beginning. As a mother of three who got pregnant again, I knew: The first appointment with the gynecologist is unspectacular. What should he see on the ultrasound? A little bubble in the blizzard? Maximum. The first examination is pure routine, maybe already a heartbeat, but probably still much too early. And so I sit down on the gynecological chair, relatively tired and relaxed. The doctor doesn’t need a minute during the ultrasound before he says: "I have to disappoint you." I startle. He continues unimpressed. "I don’t see a heartbeat. You had a missed abortion."
Tears run down my cheeks. "I want to get up," I say to the doctor. "The examination is not over yet," this one returns gruffly. He continues his ultrasound. For me still hours felt, in fact only a minute that does not go by. As I get dressed, I am shaken by crying. So it happened to me too. Like millions of other women – a miscarriage in the first few weeks. As I get dressed, the doctor simply continues to explain. "The heart probably only beat for a short time." I am stunned. Bureaucratically he explains the further procedure. He gives me a referral slip to the nearest hospital. They would probably do a curettage. On the form it is written again clearly: ""Missed Abortion. Cervical scraping requested."
"I can hardly stop crying"
In front of the practice I fall into my boyfriend’s arms. And cry and cry. He drives me to the hospital, I prefer to wait there alone. He drives home to our toddler.
"If you’ve had a miscarriage, they treat you like crap at the hospital," a friend had once told me after waiting a day for her curettage to be completed. Since I am not an emergency, the same thing happens to me. I wait four hours – after all "only" the whole morning. The doctor at the clinic looks at my pregnancy on the ultrasound. She pauses: "I can’t really see anything, but that will be the case."
Then we sit across from each other at her desk for a few more minutes. She types up the findings, looks at me at some point: "I think you’d feel better mentally if we waited another week before deciding anything."
A week to say goodbye
I get suspicious. "Why," I ask. "Simply because they are already in their late 30s. You don’t have as many chances to get pregnant again, so it’s better that way." I nod. Somehow it feels good. And even if it sounds absurd, so early in the pregnancy – a week of goodbye would do me good.
I leave the hospital bent over. My friend comes to pick me up. I have one week left. I go to work during this time, dozing off on the couch. I feel sick, I feel leaden tired. Yes, I feel pregnant. And I’m kind of angry. Why do I have to go through all this now if not for a baby? Why does a miscarriage even feel like a pregnancy?? That makes no sense!
I google my way through the day. I find out that the symptoms of pregnancy should actually disappear after some time following a missed abortion. But that is not the case with me. I stay tired. And I become skeptical.
How often is a miscarriage misdiagnosed??
I google "misdiagnosis miscarriage". And come across hundreds of entries. Should this end up being a common phenomenon? That a prematurely terminated pregnancy is mistaken for an intact one? At least that’s what the reports of many women on the net suggest.
I tell my friend about this and feel like a conspiracy theorist. The woman who cannot come to terms with her miscarriage. I’m on the phone with my uncle – also a gynecologist. We do the math. He, too, doesn’t dare contradict his colleague’s diagnosis, but still says, "I guess you’re only seven weeks along, purely by calculation."No doctor would have to see a heartbeat there necessarily.
I let the follow-up appointment at the hospital pass. The doubts remain for ten days. On the eleventh day I can’t stand it anymore, also because something has to happen now. I go back to the hospital. Again I wait four hours. I feel sick – it feels like normal pregnancy nausea. But how can that be?
The turnaround: "I see a positive heart action"
The young doctor who then treats me ultrasounds for over seven minutes. But I am patient. He wants to be absolutely sure.
"It’s all still so small. I can’t see anything," he says. But I trust him. Such a feeling.
"Take all the time you need," I reply. It should be worth it.
"I see a positive heart action," he says a minute later. I grab his arm completely without permission. He too seems relieved.
Pregnant! I’m going to be a mom again in January!
I am pregnant. Everything falls away from me. I cry again. This time out of relief. I’ll experience the next week like in a frenzy. I find a new gynecologist, the next exams go unremarkable. Yet I hardly make myself aware of the pregnancy. Too big, the fear that something else will happen. I am like in a sleep mode, probably a protective function of the body.
"I think the doctor who misdiagnosed you should know," finds my new gynecologist.
I hesitate until today. I don’t want to share my baby with this doctor. I want nothing more to do with him at all. On the other hand, other women should not have to suffer from his diagnoses. To this day I am torn. What really bothers me is that this gynecologist didn’t just assume anything, no, he made a determination, I have a diagnosis of "Missed Abortion" in writing. I am still thinking about what I will do.
But one thing is certain, and that’s the most important thing: in January I’ll be a mother again." And I look forward to it. No one should take this anticipation away from me now, please.
Lisa Harmann has always been curious in all directions. She works as a journalist, author and blogger, has three children and lives in the Bergisch near Cologne.