“I wanted to share my abortion story because I had a hard time finding another story like mine out there. I am happily married, have been for four years. I'm 33, my husband is 31. We both have decent jobs, and just bought a big house with plenty of room. We weren't trying for kids, but also hadn't ruled out the possibility of being parents some day.
So, on paper it seems like we are in the position to have a baby. But from the moment I found out I had an unplanned pregnancy on my hands, I knew I could not keep it. We have good jobs, but we're both freelance, and need more stability in our careers. I've never been outside of the country. My mom is battling cancer and lives in another state. We *just* bought that big house, as in, we closed and 5 days later I was staring at a positive pregnancy test.
So. Knowing all of this, from the moment I found out I knew we weren't keeping the baby. And when I told my husband, after about 20 minutes of discussion, he landed at the same conclusion. That was a Friday, and we made an appointment at planned parenthood the next Tuesday.
Going to The Doctor: I went to Planned Parenthood, and I am glad I did. It was a safe, positive, non-judgemental space. They made it super simple and cut-and-dry. The cost was flat ($650 for a medical abortion in TN), and covered everything, including a follow up appointment, my choice of birth control method, an extra shot I needed because of my Rh negative blood type, and even a surgical follow up, if for some reason the medical didn't work (a very slight chance, but nice to know it’s covered in case).
The waiting room was packed and full of all sorts of people, of all different ages & backgrounds, which oddly made me feel better. We weren't in this alone. At my appointment, they took my vitals, took a urine sample and did a vaginal ultrasound. They determined I had conceived less than 4 weeks prior. Since I was so early, my only option was medical abortion, which I opted for over staying pregnant until 7 weeks (the earliest they will do a surgical abortion in the office). They talked to me about what method of birth control I'd like them to provide after all was said and done, then they sent us on to the counselor. She did a finger prick blood test to determine if I was Rh negative (I was, which just meant I had to have a shot before the abortion to protect future pregnancies), and then she asked some basic questions about the abortion like were we confident in our decision, did we have any questions, etc. Then she asked my husband to leave the room and asked me some more probing questions (was I being forced to have an abortion, was I being abused, etc). It never felt judgemental or scary, it was all very low pressure, "just checking" kind of questions.
She then sent us on to the final step, to see the doctor. That was probably the weirdest part, there was just this old guy in a room who's job it was to basically read us this script that was mandated by the state. So he read it to us, made sure we knew what we were getting into, and that was that.
The Procedure: The soonest they could get me back in for the procedure was Saturday, when I would take my first pill, mifepristone which blocks the production of progesterone and effectively terminates the pregnancy. They also gave me the shot for my blood type (no big deal), as well as an antibiotic. I guess your cervix dilates during an abortion, and stays that way for a bit, so you're more prone to infection, hence the antibiotic.
Anyway, the mifepristone, as I was told and expected, had little to no impact on me. I drove myself to the doctor and back to get it. The worst part of this day was the waiting around for the pill. The waiting room was even busier that day, it took about an hour to get in to get the pills. They then sent me home with a prescription for anti-nausea pills, pain pills and my four misoprostol pills, which cause the uterus to empty (once the pregnancy is terminated on day 1 from the mifepristone).
Day 2 (Sunday), I took my anti-nausea and pain pill 30 minutes before and then 4 misoprostol pills precisely 24 hours later after the mifepristone, as instructed. You have to put them in your cheeks to let them dissolve for about 30 minutes. I am really sensitive to taste and to medicine, and I'll say that there was no taste to the pills, just chalky. So holding onto them in my mouth wasn't the hard part. But, being that I'm sensitive to medicine... the cramps started before they were even fully dissolved. And I will not lie, it was the worst pain I've ever experienced.
*Side note, I only took 1 hydrocodone and 2 advil to start. I could / should have taken more. See below.*
Anyway, I normally have very bad menstrual cramps, but this was easily five times as bad as any cramp I've ever had. I didn't know what to do with myself, I just writhed around on the bathroom floor. Ended up laying flat out on my stomach on a sleeping bag in front of the toilet, and occasionally backing up to sit on the toilet, trying to squeeze some blood out (having read that the pain passes somewhat once you start passing clots) and then crawling back down to the floor. I had those severe cramps for about 90 minutes - I started counting, and I'd cramp for about 60 seconds, then off for 5, then back for 60 and so on. I didn't vomit, although I came close a few times. I did have some diarrhea, but that was the least of my worries.
After that first 90 minutes, my body took a break and I was able to lie in bed for about 45 minutes without too many cramps. Then they kicked back in, and this time they were more intense, but also more centrally located (not shooting up my back or down my legs as much), so it felt like something was actually happening in my uterus. And then I finally started to see some blood, after about 2.5 hours of cramping. The severe cramps stuck around for a few hours, but the more I bled, the more they lightened up. Anytime I'd feel a little blood coming out I'd push as hard as I could, and it would be a bit of a relief.
All tolled, I took the misoprostol at noon, and was able to leave the bathroom and sit up on the couch by 7PM. It was the worst pain of my life, but I was prepared for it and I knew it would be over by that night. I was never in fear for my life or anything, never felt out of control.
The scariest part was the days and hours leading up to taking the misoprostol, not knowing what it would do to me. I spent a lot of time on forums, reading horror stories, psyching myself up. But I'm glad I did, because I was prepared, and that helped me get through the pain. I knew how bad other people had it, and based on that, what was normal and what to expect.
The Bleeding: I did not bleed much. I wasn't far along (about 16-17 days post conception on that Sunday), so was told I may not bleed much. I read stories about people filling overnight pads. I never got close to that. I didn't bleed at all overnight the first night, only would have some clots come out when I went to sit on the toilet. I did continue to spot for a little over a week after.
The Time Since: It is now two weeks and one day after that very painful Sunday, and I am pretty much back to normal physically. I had my follow up appointment and ultrasound last week, and got the all clear. However, I did completely over-do it the the Monday immediately following my procedure. I went out to lunch with a friend, helped my husband with a project (we were in the middle of moving and painting the floors in our entire house during all of this). And my mom came to visit on Wed (3 days after), and we ran around doing stuff. I suffered for this -- had a ton of stomach pain, lots of gas and just general discomfort in my belly. I also felt totally worn out, and just wanted to lay in bed. I finally gave into it, and did just that on Saturday. By Sunday I was very much improved, and by Monday even better. I think if I had just rested the first few days, I would have been okay by the following weekend.
Feelings: As far as knowing whether we were making the right decision, that was clear. I realize the choice is probably harder for some people, but as I said, I knew from the second I found out that this wasn’t the right time. And there was never a moment of doubt, leading up to it. I knew this was the right decision for me. But, during the week or so leading up to the procedure, it was hard to get off my mind. I felt very isolated, because it felt like I was "sick" or just going through this crazy experience... like a thing I would otherwise tell casual friends about. If you break your arm or get a nasty cold and an acquaintance happens to send you a text you might say "man, life's crazy right now, I broke my arm and can't do anything!"
People would invite me out and when I’d normally say “under the weather, sorry,” I couldn’t exactly say “sorry — contemplating my unborn child, all choices that led me here and entire life trajectory right now, check back in a few weeks.” But as with the pain the day-of, I just had to keep reminding myself that it would pass, and it would normalize. I didn’t tell many people, but once I told one close friend as well as my mom, I felt a huge weight off.
The only time that doubts crept in were when I’d think about outside pressures and what people might think of us if they found out. At times I felt irresponsible, foolish, and selfish. Mostly because on paper, we *should* have been able to do it. But I had to keep reminding myself that all those things I was thinking weren’t coming from within. I was just projecting what I though other people might think of me for this choice.
And of course, there were the hormones, which were all over the place. After the procedure, I had one really bad night. It was day two or three after, and I was feeling really weak and dizzy... just needed to eat, since I hadn’t eaten really anything the day of, and not much after. But that, coupled with the hormones and everything I’d just been through, it all came crashing down. I felt confused and terrified... not that I’d made the wrong choice but that I was suddenly at some point *going* to realize I made the wrong choice, and it would be too late. I was scared that I was gonna suddenly wake up and feel all the guilt I was supposed to feel. Which was crazy, but I couldn’t help it. I took a shower, ate some food, got some sleep and have been totally okay since.
The only other emotion I’m grappling with, and may continue to for some time, is wondering what it is about me or my current lifestyle that made me so quick to decide not to keep the baby, and so steadfast in that decision. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking what it is I’m missing or haven’t done yet that made me feel like I’m not ready for that chapter in my life. Which isn’t a bad thing to push through, I suppose.
If anyone is still reading, thanks for sticking with me. I hope reading this helps you, as writing it has helped me. Best of luck, and remember to rest, know it will pass, and give yourself a (lot of) break(s). Don't fight the emotional rollercoaster. Just lay on your couch and watch bad TV and cry or laugh or yell or stare blankly at it. You deserve it.
**Some Tips For Procedure Day (Medical Abortion)** -- TAKE YOUR PAIN PILLS. If I could go back in time and yell in my own ears, I would. I am very sensitive to pain meds, and hate how they make me feel, so I only took 1 hydrocodone & 2 advil to start. But by hour five, I would have gladly accepted an epidural. At six hours in, I took 4 advil and 2 hydrocodone at once (per the nurse-line's advice). It was fine. I needed it. It just made me sleepy, which was much preferred! -- Take the anti-nausea pills too. Although I almost threw up, I never felt nauseous which was appreciated. And odd. But better than having both. --If you're someone who likes to be near a toilet when you're sick, set up a pillow and a blanket on the floor of the bathroom. It really helped me to just lay in there, and not try and run back and forth. -- You'll get hot and cold flashes. I had a fan in the bathroom pointed at the toilet, which would blow on me when I was sitting there, or trying to barf .. and would be off of me when I was laying down. This helped a lot. -- Heating pad! For when you're not having a hot flash. -- I also had a heating blanket in the bed for when I was able to crawl in there, cause once I was through the hot flashes, I was really cold. It was nice and comforting. -- I found that putting a heating pad down on the floor and lying flat out on my tummy with the heat underneath was the only position that gave me any relief. -- I also put on a Icy Hot patch on my back before everything started, which I think helped. -- Have someone there with you who you trust and who can understand "I need my heating pad" by you just gesturing vaguely in the direction of the heating pad ... you will need them! — And in the days afterwards: REST. Just let yourself be. You'll want to get back to life as soon as possible. Give yourself a week to recover. I called the nurse-line about 5 days in when I was still having cramps and gas and bloating and general blah-ness, and she said that I need to act as if I've just been discharged from the hospital, for at least a week. The more you rest, the quicker you can get back to normal life.” —Anonymous