IT HAPPENED TO ME: I Gave Birth to the Baby I Was Told Didn't Have a Heartbeat

"You lost the baby. There is a pill we can give you to get rid of the baby," I was told. But I couldn't go through with it.
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Publish date:
December 19, 2014
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Tags:
pregnancy, misdiagnosed, miscarriages

Since I was a little girl, I always dreamed of the day I would become a mother. I remember playing with my dolls, pretending to walk them in their strollers, dressing them and doing their hair.

When I met my husband, we were on the same page when it came to having kids. I was in my late 20s, and with him being eight years older, he was ready. I remember when we got engaged, he told me that when he picked out the ring, he pictured us married and the ring sparkling on my hand while holding my belly.

One month after marrying my husband, it looked like my dreams were about to come true when we took the pregnancy test and got the "faint positive.” Of course we obsessed over the "faint positive." Did this mean we were really pregnant? Could this be a mistake? After a trip back to the pharmacy and multiple positive tests later, we finally started to believe we were pregnant.

We called our family doctor the next day and ran to have a blood test. With blood confirmation, we were pregnant! We were so excited we told both of our parents and siblings that weekend. Our child was going to be the first grandchild on both sides. The next day I called the OBGYN to make our first appointment at six weeks -- the first time we would hear our baby's heartbeat.

However, at the end of week five, on a Friday night, I started spotting blood. We decided to go to the emergency room. I couldn't make it through the entire weekend not knowing.

Going to the emergency room is never fun. We waited hours until we were finally seen. They took us back to a room where we were about to have our first internal ultrasound -- this was not how we had pictured it. On television, the wife looks up at the husband, who's holding her hand, and they gaze at the monitor as they see the image of their baby for the first time; we were in a freezing room, scared to death.

We were informed in plain terms, "There is no heartbeat. You lost the baby. There is a pill we can give you to get rid of the baby."

It felt like I was just punched in the stomach. Although I was only close to six weeks pregnant, this baby was part of us. This just could not be happening. Why us? What did I do wrong? I kept thinking, what if we can't ever carry a baby? My husband and I just sobbed. She then explained that she would have the doctor come in and confirm her findings.

Wait, what? You aren't a doctor, and you just told us we lost our baby? We asked to immediately see the doctor. She explained that she was a resident at the hospital and that she was confident the doctor would back up her findings. Thanks for the compassion.

Unfortunately, when the doctor, who seemed like he was in a hurry, came in, he did not have different news for us. Along with the resident, he highly recommended that I take a pill to "get rid" of the pregnancy, as the miscarriage would be very painful naturally.

The decision was an easy one for us: no matter what the pain was, we wanted to go through this naturally. We just couldn't pull the trigger and take a pill. I tried my best to prepare myself for the pain of going through the loss both mentally and physically.

The rest of that weekend went by in slow motion. We both tried to stay strong for each other. I did not know how my body would react to the miscarriage. I was in emotional pain and scared of the coming physical pain. Our families tried to say the right thing. "Everything happens for a reason... You will have a baby when the time is right." We knew they meant well, but nothing could stop the pain.

On Sunday night we realized we had our six-week appointment at the OBGYN that we had looked forward to so much. We decided we should go to the appointment and let them know what had happened in the emergency room. Perhaps they would be able to give us a plan for trying to conceive again in the future.

When we saw our doctor that Monday, we explained what happened at the emergency room. The last thing we wanted was to hear the bad news again, but we went ahead with an ultrasound to confirm.

To our shock, there it was: the most beautiful sound we ever heard. Our baby had a heartbeat! How could this be?

The doctor asked me if my menstrual cycle was regular. When I told her I had a history of having longer cycles than usual, she explained to me that was the reason -- the heartbeat was delayed and not formed yet when we'd gone to the hospital just three days prior.

I could not believe that the emergency room doctor never thought to ask me that question. What if we went ahead and took the pill they so highly recommended? I remember leaving that appointment so angry about what had happened in the emergency room but at the same time we were literally jumping up and down in the streets of Manhattan.

I had a pretty easy pregnancy from that point forward, physically. Mentally, we kept thinking we were going to lose the baby. We paid for a ridiculous amount of ultrasounds just so we could hear the confirmation of that beautiful beat that brought all our dreams back to life.

In March 2009, I went into labor. As I was in the midst of pushing, the doctor informed me that a resident would be observing the birth. To our shock, it was the same one who had told us we lost our baby and recommended we take a pill to get "rid of it." She did not act like she recognized us or remembered that awful night. I wanted to tell her about the pain she caused she us. I wanted her to feel that pain. Most of all, I wanted her to witness the birth of our baby she recommended we kill with a pill. There was so much I wanted to say to her. I was so angry. We were so angry. But seeing her was like seeing a ghost. We both just froze and couldn't get the words out of our mouths.

The next sound we heard was our son's cry.

Almost six years later, this experience is still a sensitive subject for me and my husband. Does this happen all the time? How can a resident be diagnosing patients without a doctor? How can a doctor not be paying attention enough to ask the right questions?

I am so thankful that I am not telling a different version of this story. Instead I am telling this story because something inside me told me not take that pill that would have taken my healthy son's life before it even started.