Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Trusting Ourselves and Our Instincts

After all of the mental turmoil I've endured at the hands of my former Physicians, the only local Doctor that I trust now is my kids Pediatrician.

I remember seeing Isabel curled up in a ball, just floating there, on my 20 week ultrasound. So much so that the ultrasound tech couldn't even get a measurement for her nose or lips. I was scared to death. Stephen was too. We could tell that there was something wrong. I told my former OB how scared I was but he didn't take me seriously. He said the baby was probably just sleeping.

We went back about a week later so the ultrasound tech could try again. This time they got the measurements, but Isabel was still curled up in a ball, hardly moving at all. Stephen and I were extremely worried at this point. I brought my concerns up to my Dr. again, but again, the Dr. said that there was nothing to worry about.

However, about a week later my OB called with news from the High Risk Specialist. This practice, as well as most, send their patients out to High Risk Specialists for the ultrasounds. The specialist told my former OB that Isabel had a 2 vessel umbilical cord. A normal umbilical cord has 3 vessels. He told me again, that it was nothing to worry about, but they would have me come in once a month for an ultrasound to make sure that the baby was growing properly. I want to note right now though, that when we finally got the Autopsy Report, it revealed that Isabel did not have a 2-vessel cord after all, she had a 3 vessel cord.

Stephen and I were freaked out at this point, so I went ahead and made an appointment for us to meet with the High Risk Specialist ourselves. At our meeting I asked about the babies well-being, due to the alleged 2 vessel cord, and I asked if I was going to need an amniocentesis to check the babies overall health. He said NO and told us both again, that there was nothing to worry about and that I was going to give birth to a totally healthy baby girl.

After Isabel died though, I went ahead and obtained all of my medical records and it was then that I saw the brazen lie in my chart. The High Risk physicians correspondence to my former OB stated that he did indeed, recommend amniocentesis due to all of the things that could go wrong with a baby with a 2 vessel cord, and that I DECLINED! I felt shocked and betrayed. I trusted him. I trusted them all.

I called my OB's office immediately and another Dr called me back. He said that he believed me but was sure that the High Risk Specialist really did believe that my baby was fine, but lied in my chart to cover his butt should anything go wrong and I wanted to sue, as a Dr's written word is more valuable in a court of law than the word of his patients. He went on to say that it was a good thing that my husband was in the meeting with me, and heard what really happened so I could not be portrayed as another "hormonal pregnant woman."

The truth of the matter is that had Isabel lived, I would have never discovered the lie in my chart. People don't typically request medical records unless things go horribly wrong.

Now, the story of the Autopsy....

I called my former OB's office a couple times looking for the Autopsy Report and I wasn't getting anywhere. The receptionist was curt and rude to me, so I decided that I wasn't going to deal with her anymore and that I was going to start calling the Coroner directly.

He was kind enough to take my phone call but unfortunately for me, mixed my baby up with someone else's in his mind, and told me that he saw serious problems with Isabel's heart and sent it to a specialist in Brooklyn. Yes, seriously. Now, for a whole month I believed that there was something wrong with my babies heart, until he finally realized his mistake and revealed that Isabel's heart was there in the hospital the whole time and was fine. There was nothing wrong with her heart. Oops.

Now about 2 months have passed and I finally have the Autopsy Report in hand and lo' and behold, another shocker, the Autopsy findings revealed that Isabel actually didn't have a 2-vessel cord either. Isabel had a 3 vessel cord, as she should have. The Coroner told me that this was a very important find. It sure was.

He went on to explain to me that Dr’s can’t give their patients proper care because they have to take on too many patients to afford their outrageous insurance premiums. I had just gone through 14 hours of labor and the subsequent delivery of my stillborn daughter. My OB wasn't even there come delivery time. There were 2 residents there on staff that day. The Dr's said nothing would turn up on the autopsy but not having an autopsy done on Isabel was out of the question. There was no way that I was not going to cover all of my bases. Now, I was to understand that the Dr’s couldn’t possibly take care of me and my baby because they have to take on more patients than they can handle because of the insurance companies? We all have a big problem on our hands then.

After Isabel's delivery, I remember the nurses would bring her to me but then after a while would take her away. This went on for what seemed like forever. In the end the nurses told me that it was time to bring her down to the morgue. I asked to hold her one more time to say goodbye. I didn't want to let her go but I knew it was time...she had grown so cold in my arms.

Having endured all of this, I did not accept the Dr's explanation that Isabel's death was a "fluke, just bad luck." I knew that there had to be something else going on and there was no way that I could endure having another stillborn, so I began to ask other women if they had any recommendations for another High Risk Specialist. I was led to another hospital with Dr's, who in the end, determined what went wrong and gave me my son.

The High Risk specialist that was recommended to me looked at my chart for about 5 minutes and told me that it was his opinion that my baby did not die from a two vessel cord and at this point, the autopsy results weren't even in yet. He told me he thought I had Gestational Thrombophilia and that there were "red flags all over my chart." He took 14 vials of blood that day. Side note... my new Dr's recommend women be tested for Gestational Thrombophilia after enduring THREE or more miscarriages or ONE Stillbirth.

I am grateful for my new physicians for taking me on, for determining course of treatment, watching me closely and giving me my son. Had I not been medicated from conception with him, not only would my son have died, a pregnancy for me without blood thinners could prove fatal for me as well.

I'm sharing my story in the hopes that I may empower other women to trust in themselves and their instincts. As you can see from what I have endured, our physicians are not always right. Whether it be a lack of knowledge on their parts, that their priorities are wrong because there is too much focus on how to cover their butts to avoid lawsuits, instead of spending the time caring for their patients, or whether patients are slipping through the cracks because the physicians have taken on more patients than they can handle, doesn't matter.

None of these reasons are acceptable. What happened to us isn't ok.

I will spend the rest of my life wondering if Isabel would be here with us today if I had just gone for a 2nd opinion and switched physicians. Would my new Dr's been able to save her? I ignored my instincts and listened to my former Dr's because they were the ones with the medical degrees. I trusted them. Maybe it was too late for Isabel at that point. I don't know. I know for a fact though that had I not followed my instincts after Isabel died, that my son would not be here with me today.

That is a fact.

My former Dr's thought Isabel's death was a fluke, just bad luck, they told me that I could wait a couple of cycles and try again. That wasn't true though. My instincts told me to seek out new physicians and those physicians determined that I needed specialized care. I needed blood thinners. I needed Dr's who were going to be watching me on an almost weekly basis. Even with the medication, my son needed to be delivered at 35 weeks. Thankfully my new Dr's took me seriously, medicated me and kept a close eye. For as grateful as I am to God and my new Doctors, I know that my son would not be here with us today if it weren't for my instincts and perseverance.

I realize that most people have pregnancies like the one I had with my daughter. Aside from all of the morning sickness, it was perfect. I loved my Dr. at the time because he was a nice guy, but other than performing the c-section for a 10 lb 13oz baby, there wasn't anything involved in my pregnancy with her that anyone had to worry about. Then came Isabel and it all fell apart. Everyone took for granted that I should have non-eventful perfect pregnancies because I had one child already. That lax attitude had grave consequences for my Isabel, and could very well have ended in grave consequences for my son.

I was hesitant to blog about this because sharing my story has resulted in a lot of pain for me at times and I don't want to be hurt anymore than I have. In the end, although difficult, I decided to post this because if I could help one woman trust in herself, then it will have been worth it to me.

I have a lot of respect for my kids Pediatrician...well, so far, so good, and before I even had to go into my whole spiel about my lack of trust in local physicians, he had already written a referral for an eye specialist for my daughter in Manhattan. "They're the best," he said.


  1. Thank you, thank you, Anne Marie. It must have been maddening. It's true, I think most of us trust our doctor's blindly. Most of the time they are taking a best guess. Thank you for sharing Isabel's story, it will help others.

  2. Thank you so much for writing this. I used to blindly follow whatever my doctor said. Now I question. Question, question, question.

    I'm so sorry for all you had to go through. I can't even imagine the pure hell of it. I am also so very happy to hear that because you trusted your instincts and found doctors who cared, you now have your little boy.

  3. Thank you for having the courage to write this and in doing so make a difference in the life of another women.

  4. Thank you all for taking the time to write to me and for your compassion and support. You have no idea how much it has meant and what a difference it has made for me.

  5. I found you through Alicia's blog. Thank you for sharing your story. It is important for women to know that they have the right to question their doctors. I am so sorry for your loss.

  6. Hi Christina, thanks so much. I appreciate it a lot.

  7. Anne Marie,
    It took such strength for you to write this. It will only help others know that they should not merely take their doctor's word as gospel and have every right to seek a second opinion. We are very proud of you and all of the good that you do with your blog. The loss of a child is something that many of us can't even imagine. We love you and miss you.

  8. We need to tell each other this over and over again. There are so many "experts" in our lives but no one knows better than our selves. Thank you for sharing these details. Your strength shines through.

  9. Andrea, thank you so much. I love and miss you too!

  10. Emily,

    Thank you so much. It's true, we need to support one another and give each other the confidence to know that we do know best. I think it is especially important as women. I've shared my complete story with other moms who know these Dr's and some of the remarks have been shocking and extremely painful, there's always a response of "how nice" they are and then the worst I think was, "in their defense, they do have a lot of patients!" That is NO excuse! How nice is it to allow another Dr to continually lie to cover his butt in their patients charts? Is that respecting women? Would any mother think it's ok that their child died because the Dr's wouldn't listen to her and didn't take the time to see what was really going on because they had a super busy practice and they, therefore, oops, fell through the cracks? I would expect other women, especially moms to be horrified by these details. I was scared to post this blog because I was afraid for these kinds of responses. I am so thankful to you and all of the other women who posted for your support. Thank you! It has meant the WORLD to me!