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Misdiagnosis of a Blighted Ovum: A Firsthand Account

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Is your blighted ovum a misdiagnosis? Here's my story.

Is your blighted ovum a misdiagnosis? Here's my story.

My Misdiagnosed Blighted Ovum

Hi. My name is Kay, and I am the mother of a beautiful, not-so-blighted ovum. Yes, I had a misdiagnosed miscarriage.

During my last pregnancy, I was told at my 5 1/2- and 6-week ultrasounds that I most likely had a blighted ovum. After my 7- and 8-week ultrasounds, my doctor strongly recommended a D&C due to an empty gestational sac, which meant there was no hope for a viable pregnancy.

Thankfully, I refused the procedure. I say thankfully because, at nearly nine weeks, we saw my baby for the first time on the ultrasound, beating heart and all!

In this article, I hope to provide you with more information so you can determine if your "blighted ovum" is, in fact, actually blighted—or if you may have received a misdiagnosis.

I believe every woman deserves to have no doubt before having her pregnancy ended.

I also believe a blighted ovum should not be diagnosed before nine weeks.

My beautiful, not-so-blighted ovum.

My beautiful, not-so-blighted ovum.

My Misdiagnosed Blighted Ovum Story

I've been sharing my story for several years online. If you're researching blighted ovum information, you may have already come across my story. For those who have not, let me tell you the tale of my own little misdiagnosed blighted ovum.

Hey, I'm Pregnant!

Back in September 2002, I found out I was pregnant. Because there was only one possible date of conception, I knew exactly how far along I was. At 5 1/2 weeks, my ob-gyn wanted to do an ultrasound because I had been at high risk during my first pregnancy. Well, the tech kept looking and looking, commenting on my tilted uterus several times, but she could only find the sac. The sac looked much smaller than it should have by that point.

I was not concerned because that happened during my first pregnancy, as well—and that doctor had not been concerned. Well, apparently, this doctor was concerned, because when he came in he started discussing the possibility of a blighted ovum. He said I needed to come back in a few days when I was 6 weeks to check again. He said we'd know more then.

In the meantime, they took my hCG levels, and the nurse called me later to tell me they should be higher. This didn't sound very good, but I was not panicked yet. I must admit that I was a bit worried, though.

6-Week Exam

At my 6-week exam, my doctor did not sound optimistic about my hCG levels, even though I had looked online and learned that they fell within the normal range. He came in for the ultrasound. Again, he had to contort a bit for the transvaginal ultrasound because of my tilted uterus.

The sac was growing appropriately—but no baby. My doctor believed this was a blighted ovum. He explained that hCG levels can and will rise with a blighted ovum and that the gestational sac will grow, as well. He again raised the possibility of my not being as far along as I thought, but I reminded him that was impossible. My husband and I were in different states the day after I conceived (thanks to Uncle Sam).

The doctor said he was concerned because the sac looked a week and a half behind. I told him that the same thing had happened during my first pregnancy; i.e., I had looked two weeks behind during the first trimester. I also emphasized that my first doctor had not been concerned at all. This doctor, however, was very worried. And because I was pregnant and hormonal, I began to get very worried, as well.

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I spent the next week scouring the web looking for anyone who had experienced the same thing. The women I found online were very kind but didn't give me much hope. I had already begun to experience pregnancy symptoms, but they were beginning to fade. Even my tummy, which had seemed a little harder, suddenly seemed soft again.

Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all... As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.

— G. K. Chesterton

7-Week Exam

At my 7-week appointment, long story short, my hCG levels had risen and the gestational sac had also grown appropriately. However, I still looked a week and a half behind. Again, I explained to the doctor that I knew the conception date with certainty.

Again, there was no baby and no heartbeat. Not even a yolk sac to give us hope.

Because my hCG levels were much higher at this point, in the tens of thousands, a baby should have been visible according to the ultrasound literature. According to the same literature, my gestational sac was large enough that a baby, or at the very least, a yolk sac should have been visible. When I told my doctor about my loss of pregnancy symptoms, that seemed to cinch it for him. He diagnosed a blighted ovum and strongly recommended a D&C, or dilation and curettage.

I have a fear of D&Cs, and maybe this fear is a good thing because I just absolutely refused. I begged for any sort of hope, and he very skeptically but kindly gave me a 95% chance of miscarriage at this point. I grabbed onto that 5% chance. By this time, I was an emotional wreck.

During the next week, I continued to rip apart the web looking for hopeful stories. Women on the pregnancy and miscarriage sites I visited very kindly told me I needed to accept my loss and should have the D&C in order to move on and heal.

I suspect that if I hadn't had such a fear of D&Cs (due largely to two women I know who had serious complications from the procedure), I would have considered it. I was an absolute wreck. I spent much of that week in tears.

8-Week Exam

By week 8, my physician was pretty much just monitoring me to see if I was about to miscarry. Again, the ultrasound showed a larger gestational sac that was growing appropriately, but it was still small for 8 weeks. And still no baby.

The tech did say she thought she saw something unusual in the sac, but after searching and searching, she could not find what she thought she'd seen. My doctor again tried to convince me to have a D&C due to the risk of infection and all sorts of complications—but I couldn't do it. At this point, I was so upset I was beginning to feel numb.

By this time, I'd found two women online who were kind enough to email me. They encouraged me not to give up entirely. If I was going to miscarry, so be it—but I could deal with that grief when it happened. For the time being, they told me to hold on to faith and hope. Because of these women, I began reaching out to other women later, but that is another story for another time.

Ultrasound Just Before 9 Weeks

At almost 9 weeks, my doctor was stunned when the tech found my baby with a very strong heartbeat. We'd completely skipped over the yolk sac and fetal pole and went straight to a wonderfully formed, if not small looking, one-and-a-half-weeks-behind baby!

To say my doctor was stunned was an understatement. He began to say again that I must have conceived later, but when I reminded him (again!) about how I knew the exact date of conception, he said that maybe the sperm were just really slow. He did not even want to consider that according to his dating, I had turned up positive on a home pregnancy test a day or so after conception. Now, you know that is impossible. I know that is impossible, but try telling that to the doctor who uses the ultrasound literature as his guide. By those guidelines, my baby is officially a "blighted ovum" baby.

I'll leave my story at that for now. I will just say that I had one more ultrasound somewhere around 20 weeks, and my dates were more accurate by that point. Interesting to note that the tilted uterus was no longer an issue either, but I'll discuss that in more detail later.

Today my "blighted ovum" is a happy, healthy four-year-old girl. She's bright and feisty and loves life. Thankfully, a D&C did not change that.

Thank you for reading. No matter what, if you are going through this same scare, I hope you can find some comfort in knowing you are not alone.

Have You Been Misdiagnosed?

Misdiagnosed miscarriages are not as uncommon as you might be led to believe. It is not unusual for me to receive several emails each week from women who are misdiagnosed. Often, they had been told by their doctor there was no hope, and they had been advised to have a D&C. Each and every misdiagnosed story provides comfort to women who are going through their own miscarriage scare. Please consider taking the time to share your story in the comments section below.

Important New Guidelines for Diagnosing a Miscarriage

The UK is the first country to acknowledge that misdiagnosed miscarriages are indeed a problem. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has revised its guidelines. If your gestational sac is more than 25mm, and/or the CRL is 7mm or more, you should wait a week to verify (if there are no complications). If the measurements are less, you are too early to diagnose. For more information (and something to take to your doctor), please see my article: New Blighted Ovum Guidelines! You ARE Being Diagnosed Too Soon!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Need to Talk? You Are Not Alone

Nina on July 14, 2020:

Today I went to the hospital due to cramping, during my ultrasound the tech mentioned that I was having twins I knew it my heart that I was have multiples but the doctor said there is only one fetus and the yolk sac or fetal pole wasn’t showing up in sac A at 12mm, they also found small complicated cyst I have a tilted uterus and this gives me hope but I don’t know how this will effect baby B

Jackie0490 on May 24, 2020:

I had a positive pregnancy test at home on the 22/04 went in for hcg blood test on the 29/04 and 30/04 resulting in readings of 300 and 575 which put me around 3-4 weeks to pregnant. Had a scan booked on the 11/05 which showed an empty sac measuring 9mm around 5 weeks pregnant, so they said too early to see anything and to come back in 10 days. I then went back on the 22/05 and sac had grown to 21mm but still came up empty with no yolk, fetal pole or heart beat. I have been sent to have blood work done again and should have results tomorrow to see if there dropping as they have said most likely blighted ovum and would need to schedule a d&c.

Is there still any chance I could be pregnant I feel pregnant and have all the symptoms including morning sickness, sore breasts, cravings and strong sense of smell.

Please give me hope

Jennifer Steiner on March 23, 2020:

My husband and I had went to the Er around 3/3 bc I was having pains. I am a CNA and lift patients. So maybe it was from that. They did a ultra sound transvaginal. The girl said the machine was measuring me at 5 weeks 4 days which I should have been 7 weeks 2 days based off my LMP. 1/11 however, we did insemination on 1/27. I followed a app and did temps and I ovulated that day says app. Well The Er doc came in and said I think I seen a yolk sac not sure. So that to me meant maybe he couldn’t read these things very well and said I was measuring behind. Well we went on 3/16 to see my OB and he said he thinks it was a blighted ovum. Didn’t say anything else but that he did see a yolk sack and no fetal pole. Well I work at the hospital and I can read my own chart, I check both from 3/3 Er visit and 3/16, Er says possible yolk sac with the picture and the other 3/16 he says he sees yolk sac and possible fetal pole. I didn’t look at the measurements. Well being in the Er my chart said I have cysts in my ovaries which they never mentioned and that could have explained the pain. Well our ob sent us to a ultra sound tech, just to make sure. He said they are specialists at this and all. So great more hope but he said he was for sure that it was a blighted ovum. 2 days later 3/18 we go in and the lady was sweet she checked around and all and she told us that she seen what seemed to her the baby but there was no heart beat yet and that it’s bc the baby measured 6 weeks. I started to cry bc I know that the baby should have grown more. She asked us our story and we told her Date if insemination and all. She said Er docs don’t know what they are looking for bc they specialize in internal meds and quick answers. However, she also said your doctor must have sent you bc he wasn’t sure himself. She said I see this everyday I know what to look for. She said that when I went to the Er if they go by my date of insemination I would have only be about 3 weeks and 4 days pregnant and not enough to see on there. Then coming to see her we did have growth within 2 days. I think the doc said 1.0mm of something and then seeing her 2 days later it was 1.36mm. She said that I needed to ask for hcg levels. Well we go back the next day 3/19 and the doc comes in and says I’m sorry for your loss. I said what are you talking about . He said it’s a blighted ovum. He refused to really hear our side of the story and we wanted to wait for another week or 2, bc the tech gave us so much hope. I’m not bleeding and I have small pains but nothing ever so severe. And they come and go. He also refused to check hcg levels, he said those won’t tells us anything. So I searched and search and found your story and I’m hoping that we have a outcome like yours. Idk if I should ask about a tilted uterus but it’s something to consider. We go back 4/3 and the doc said in the meantime look out for blood. He said again walking out the door he was sorry for our loss. I want to find another doc but we are waiting for our next ultra sound and I think I’m going to ask them to check from the outside of my stomach as well. Hoping to see a baby by then with a strong heart beat. I still feel sick and all the pregnancy stuff. I just feel as if I’m expecting he worse now.

onlyrafin on January 18, 2020:

My wife has a blighted ovum and she is 10 weeks 3 days. Is there any hope? There is no sign of miscarriage though. We are so upset.

Summer on January 16, 2020:

I was given a blighted ovum dx on Monday (Jan 13) after some light spotting on Sunday evening. There was very mild cramping. Pretty sure conception was on Oct 21, which would put me at 14 weeks exactly for the sono (transabdominal). Gestational sac measured 15.20mm, no fetal pole, no yolk, no heartbeat, tear-shaped sac. Had some even lighter spotting and a lot of mucus since then, now it's Thursday and nothing. I decided to wait it out, but now I'm wondering if I should go back for another US? Not sure if I have a tilted uterus - my cervix is very far back, so that my midwife can't check dilation until just before I give birth. This is baby #5, no issues with previous pregnancies.

Please advise.

Girasol on August 13, 2019:

When you say that you shouldn't be diagnosed before 9 weeks, do you mean 9 weeks according to the gestational sac measurement or using LMP?? According to my LMP they said I was 9w1d at my last (and 3rd Ultrasound) and the sac measured 2.2cm which is 7w1d, am I being diagnosed with blighted ovum too soon? I don't have any cramping or bleeding, the first two ultrasounds each a week apart showed no embryo, but the gestational sac continues to grow. My beta hcg levels done in between the 1st and 2nd ultrasound were in range, and increased, but they did not double. Should I ask for another scan?

Lilibet on August 12, 2019:

my hcg at 12 days post ivf was 33; 14 day was66; 16 day is 73 Any hope?

Hopingx on August 06, 2019:

Had a private scan 2 weeks ago and saw a tiny gestation sac, from my dates she estimated 5-6 weeks. Went back 3 days ago and the Dr who did my scan was a consultant from the maternity hospital. He asked how far along I was, I said 7-8 weeks (from what the lady at the first scan had told me).

After less than 2 minutes scanning my stomach he told ne he was very sorry but he had bad news, I had an empty sac and most probably a missed miscarriage. He stroked my arm and said he was so sorry to give me such sad news.

Today I went for an internal scan, and the midwife said that what she could see was a very early pregnancy, but if the consultant had said it was a likely miscarriage then she could not say that the 'blob' she could see on the scan was not a blood clot.

The pregnancy sac was measuring 19mm.

As I have been breastfeeding and not had a proper period I have no idea of how far gone I am. I spent my birthday yesterday crying my eyes out in the kitchen hiding my tears from my 3 little girls aged 4,2 and 11 months.

I had already told my parents and my other halfs parents we were expecting so had to give them the bad news too as I was very emotional at my birthday meal.

I have to go back next week and thought there was no hope but now after reading this I don't know what to think! I am scared to hope but with no blood loss, or cramping I am just praying that the consultant made a mistake at the private scan.

I have a scan booked in 8 days I will report back.

Miaaarfanisyiah on August 04, 2019:

Thank you for sharing your story. I'm pregnant with my 1st child at age 37. Went for my 1st check up last friday st 8weeks but was told it's an empty sac. Went for blood test and was told to come in for another scanning yesterday due to my HCG very high at 53000++. I read online it seems about right for 8weeks but I'm not sure if Its because in Asia it's different thing??

Anyways, its still an empty sac with no yolk nor fetal pole. But they discovered i had fibroids instead which is not dangerous. They suspected its failure pregnancy or miscarriage so I lost all hope thinking i need to go for D&C. But doc told us not to gv up and to scan again in 2weeks time when BB is almost 10 weeks. Do u really think it is possible to see my baby and its really hiding?? I've been feeling negative the past 3days and had been crying. I wonder how to get through the next 2weeks while working..

HHud on July 25, 2019:

I just received the diagnosis of a blighted ovum. We did IVF so I have exact dates and my hcg has looked completely normal and still does. We went for my first ultrasound on Monday and they saw the gestational sac but nothing else. We even heard a heartbeat of 105. I went back today for a follow up and they saw an enlarged yolk sac this time but still no fetal pole. They didn’t bother to check for the heartbeat again. I go back once more on Monday to confirm the diagnosis. My husband and I are absolutely heartbroken. Everything has seemed so normal with this pregnancy thus far, much like my last healthy pregnancy. But there doesn’t appear to be a baby. I’m so confused why there was a heartbeat but it is still being called a blighted ovum. I’ve been given about a 20% chance at this point. We are just praying this little baby shows up on Monday. Your story does give me some hope. Thank you for sharing!

yaya2017 on July 24, 2019:

My daughter went to the OBGYN 1 1/2 weeks ago for her first prenatal visit. This is her second pregnancy, Cole just turned 2. She has a tilted uterus and It was hard to find the fetal pole when she had her first ultrasound with Cole. When they did her ultrasound the other day at the doctors office there were 2 gestational sacs, 2 yolk sacs, but only one fetal pole visible. The woman doing the ultrasound was not an ultrasound tech, she was an NP. The ultrasound lasted all of 5 minutes and the only thing she measured was the fetal pole in the one sac...which measured 7w 4d. She did a quick wave of the transducer wand through the other sac and turned to my daughter and said "it looks like you will probably have a vanishing twin since I don't see the fetal pole in the other sac" She didn't spend any time trying to find the fetal pole. My question is...Is it possible that due to my daughters tilted uterus could she just have missed the fetal pole in the one sac? My daughter is scheduled for another ultrasound on monday. She has been so sick and exhausted. Just looking for any feedback. Thanks

Meixie on July 22, 2019:

Hi,

I just wanted to say thank you for this article. My only hope at this point is God. I have never experienced this before. God bless everyone that is experiencing this. I am so scared. I will wait unti 08/15/2019 to decide.

Bh on July 05, 2019:

Update...today my wife started showing signs of miscarriage and ultrasound at the hospital showed no fetal heartbeat and gestational sac smaller and hcg levels low

Bh on July 04, 2019:

My wife and i are currently going through this. She had postive pregnancy test at home. Went to see her primary care dr (who has been questionable at best) and the pregnancy was confirmed. She referred us to another what we thought was dr office close by. We went in for first visit and she looked my wife over and said come back thurs for ultrasound. We came back and lady did transvaginal ultrasound at what we had figured 5 weeks. She said my wife measured 6 weeks but there looked to be a problem. No baby. Ultrasound tech brought up non viable pregnancy and said we'll check again in a week. My wife and i were devastated. Waiting for the next week was horrible. We went back and now she said she measures 8 weeks. No baby. Told us she should do d and c or take pill. Which they had already brought up at first visit. Feeling pressured we left and said we needed to think about it. No signs of miscarriage whatsoever. I went home that night and started researching blighted ovum. I found your story. We decided we will wait and see how her body deals with it. Then i did more research only to find that our obgyn is not an obgyn and not a dr! She is a midwife directing us to abort her pregnancy at 6 weeks. I even brought up before 9 weeks being too soon and she pretty much blew it off. We are holding on to hope. We have not been back there and will noot go back. We are currently waiting to get in to see a real dr. Still no signs of miscarriage.

Lazad on June 27, 2019:

Hi Kay, I have just read your story and it gave a little hope. I am 8 weeks long pregnant today and had done my first ultrasound yesterday and diagnosed with blighted ovum. I still have strong pregnancy symptoms ( sore boobs, morning sickness and very tired). My doctor told me to wait for my body to naturally pass it out. I am feeling terribly emotional and am very worried because I had a miscarriage 7 months ago which resulted to D&C and it was a horrible experience. I am praying that it is a misdiagnosed. Thanks for sharing your story

Ty on June 16, 2019:

Diagnosed with blighted ovum 7 to 8 weeks pregnant sore boobs and nauseous with upset stomach that come and go.... ultrasound shows a embryo that’s about 0.30cm and a enlarged yolk sac no heartbeat so doctor wanna do a D&C but I don’t believe doctor is right.... I’m fighting and praying for a healthy pregnancy

Fitmama94 on June 14, 2019:

Hi kay!

I went in on Wednesday and I was told I measured 7 weeks. He didn’t see baby or heartbeat. He took my blood test. The first time I went in I was 5 weeks and my HCG levels were 1700. I got back the HCG levels yesterday and they went up to 50,044. He was worried on weds but seeing my HCG levels going up he feels better about it. I am still nervous that it’s a blighted ovum. I have morning sickness pretty bad and light cramping. No bleeding. Just want to vent. Can’t get it off my head just nervous to go in on Monday to see what happens.

Ariane Carreon on June 08, 2019:

Hi everyone. I am experiencing it right now. I just got home from a doctors appt and i am at 9 weeks now, still no yolk sac and embryo. My ob gyne gave me another week, but she said the chances are low. She gave me another chance because i dont have any signs of miscarriage not even bleeding. I just want to know if there is still any hope for me or i should wait for 2 weeks more to see if there is a baby inside. I am hanging in a small of hope here. This is my first pregnancy and I really wanted this. My husband and I still hopes for the best. Hoping for any good advice

Kay (author) on June 01, 2019:

Huge hug. I am so sorry :(

Carlough on May 03, 2019:

It’s so crap isn’t it , the waiting, well I had my follow up and they told me what I don’t want to hear, it’s another missed miscarriage, they could c sac yolk sac and fetal pole but not growing and not heartbeat I’m 9 weeks today, I am booked for dnc Tuesday :( x

Brittany on May 01, 2019:

Update.... Last week I was only measuring 5 weeks 1 days when in reality I was 6 weeks 2 days with an HCG of aroun 7400 and mean sac diameter of 1cm. No visible yolk sac.

Today i went in and the mean diameter was up to 1.7cm and my hcg was 24000. They did see a yolk sac that measured .2cm but could not find any heartbeat or fetal pole. I am still measuring a week behind. I did ivf so I know exactly how far along I should be. My clinic is telling me its a blighted ovum and I should go have a D&C done.

Alex limon on April 26, 2019:

Hi Kay,

Thank you so much for your story. You have given me hope!!

On Tuesday, I went in for my 8th week checkup. When the tech did my u/s she found no baby just a sac. The tech said to me “ it’s just a sac with nothing in it” and I was puzzled I never heard of this before So i stayed quiet. The tech said “how did you know you were pregnant” I said well I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. She said well I’ll get the Dr now. I was so devastated already by the techs comments. I never had a tech tell me my u/s results and I never heard of this diagnosis either.

The dr came in and proceeded to tell me it was blight ovum and told me about my options. She said I measured over 20 mm. Well after my appointment I researched like crazy and I called the Dr office to get the exact measurement. I was told I was 19.5 mm. The dr never took my blood, and the dr told me she was very sure of my diagnosis. After I came across your article I became hopeful because maybe my weeks were off and I wasn’t really 8 weeks yet. The first day of my last period was feb 28 and I started thinking maybe I conceived a week or two later.

Update: I called to cancel my appointment and found a new Dr. in hopes to get a second opinion. Do you have any suggestions Kay?

Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers. I am trying to keep the faith.

Thank you,

Alex

Kay (author) on April 26, 2019:

Quite a few women measure one to two weeks behind. Really, if the gestational sac is growing, a blighted ovum should not be diagnosed before the sac is more than 25mm. Stay closely monitored in the meantime.

Kay (author) on April 26, 2019:

Progesterone can cause spotting. Not sure what is happening but please stay closely monitored.

Kay (author) on April 26, 2019:

Congratulations! This is such good news.

Kay (author) on April 26, 2019:

II am so sorry you are going through this scare. This is too early to diagnose though. Hope you've stayed closely monitored.

Brittany on April 25, 2019:

Yesterday I had an ultrasound done and bloodwork. I am 6 weeks and 2 days. This is accurate as I did IVF with a 3 day frozen embryo. The ultrasound report shows that I am only measuring at 5 weeks and 1 day. Only saw the gestational sac, no yolk or fetal pole. Sac measured at 1.00cm (10.00mm). The nurse told me its a very good chance its a blighted ovum due to the fact that im measuring so far behind. My HCG level though was a 7400. From the beginning of my IVF journey i have always been told I have a retroverted uterus. I go back in 1 week to have another scan at 7 weeks 2 days. Based on all these stories im hoping blighted ovum is not the case.

Kp04 on April 21, 2019:

Hi I had my ultrasound four days ago. I was convince I was 8.5 weeks pregnant but all my doc saw on u/s was an empty sac (no embryo or HB). I’ve been having my hcg levels drawn every two days. My first lab was 47,000 two days later my labs dropped t 45,800. Is there still hope? My doc believes I’m miscarrying.

Kaitlyn on April 18, 2019:

Hi Kay,

I went for my first Ultrasound 2 days ago. I knew something was wrong when they wouldn't let me see anything and didn't call in my boyfriend as they said they would. Later that evening my midwife called me saying that it was an empty gestational sac that measured at 8 weeks. She told me I would naturally miscarry in two weeks and that was that. No follow up ultrasound. I havent had any blood work done since finding out I was pregnant. Plus they only did the abdominal ultrasound and not the transvaginal ultrasound. I feel like I have just been dismissed and don't know if I should just wait to see if I bleed in two weeks or if I should go get a second opinion. They seemed pretty confident that because the sac measured at 8 weeks that it is for sure a miscarriage.