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BMJ 1998; 316 doi: (Published 25 April 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:1324
  1. Ann Rosen, freelance writer
  1. lives in London

    As I lay on the hospital bed during the scan for my fourth child I was full of apprehension. The doctor was moving the probe around for a long time and the image on the screen did not resemble anything identifiable. Eventually he spoke.

    “Are you sure about your dates—around 16 weeks?”

    “Absolutely,” I replied.

    “The picture I'm getting isn't very clear. We'll have to scan it from another angle.”

    The second scan showed a mass of deformed cells, no identifiable embryo or definite organs.

    “I'm sorry,” he said. “You'll have to stay in hospital for a dilatation and curettage. One of my colleagues will come and deal with you shortly.”

    My husband held my hand reassuringly and asked if I was okay. I was fine, disappointed, of course, but these things happen and we were blessed with three healthy children.

    Eventually, I was admitted to a ward and told that the operation would be done at …

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