Near 'miss: The mom who just said no
When Charletta Anderson went to the emergency room at Martha Jefferson Hospital five and a half years ago, she says she was told she'd had a miscarriage.
The doctor prescribed a drug that would help her body complete the pregnancy termination process, but Anderson decided not to take her medicine.
Five years later, she's still thankful that she made that decision. She continued her pregnancy to full term, and today has a healthy five-year-old daughter.
"This is a wake-up call," says Anderson. "Women shouldn't believe everything they're told."
Her ordeal started right after her three-month visit to her obstetrician, Dr. Julie Blommel. "It was an ideal pregnancy, and everything was going smoothly," Anderson recalls.
She was watching TV on a Saturday night when something felt weird. She went to the bathroom and saw what she describes as "globular blood."
Anderson called her doctor and spoke to Ted Harris, the physician on call for the practice. "He 's telling me to hang in there, don't worry about it, and call on Monday," she says.
That advice didn't reassure Anderson, and she called her mother, who told her to go the ER. Anderson did– and took along the tissue she'd discharged.
"I saw a doctor who didn't do an ultrasound," she says. "He said, 'I want you to take pills to excrete the fetus.'"
Both Anderson and her husband allegedly asked about an ultrasound. "The doctor said they'd have to bring in someone to do that," she says. Even more chilling, says Anderson, the distressed couple was told, "There is no baby."
Anderson went home and lay down but still didn't take the medicine.
"I didn't feel comfortable with anything he told me," she says of the ER doctor whose name she doesn't recall. "It didn't feel right. It was against everything I'd read. If my body was going to abort, it would do it on its own.
On Monday, Anderson went to see Dr. Blommel, who performed an ultrasound, a non-invasive sonic procedure that sees inside the womb.
"The fetus was perfect," says Anderson. "There was absolutely nothing wrong with it."
Blommel did not return The Hook's call.
Ann Nickels, Martha Jefferson Hospital spokesperson, says, "Martha Jefferson as a matter of policy does not make comments pertaining to patient care or patient records."
Ted Harris does not recall Anderson's call, but he says that if he got a call on a Saturday night, "The standard line is if there's cramping, hard bleeding, and bright red blood, go to the ER." If the patient has light bleeding that's dark in color with no cramping, it's probably not a miscarriage, explains Harris.
He also said that at 12 weeks pregnant, as Anderson was, "It sounds like an ultrasound is the way to go."
Anderson has since had a second child. She's become a big advocate for education and urges women not to take everything a doctor tells them as gospel. And she wants women to trust their gut feelings.
"If I had believed what they told me, I'd have aborted a perfectly healthy child," says Anderson, who works for Albemarle County's finance department.
And because Anderson did not follow a doctor's orders, Alicia Victoria Camille Anderson celebrated her fifth birthday April 25.