“If you have found yourself here, you’re probably looking for support, peace of mind, and/or a detailed account of what you’ll go through—much like I was just one week ago. Some of this story will be graphic and brutally honest, but it’s what I wish I had found while looking for a saving grace on the World Wide Web.
Last Wednesday I took an at home pregnancy test, in a restaurant bathroom, because my living situation is that of an almost 30-year-old living with my mother. It was positive. I knew immediately I couldn’t and wouldn’t keep the pregnancy. I ended a 9-year relationship last summer and have tried to find happiness with another man, and he’s wonderful, but I couldn’t have his child—nor did I want a child. So I sat for a day, and did nothing but have massive anxiety attacks. Then I told my best friend, then I told him. They both supported me and told me whatever choice I made was the right one. I felt very lucky in this way.
I made an appointment with Planned Parenthood, but they couldn’t see me until the following Tuesday. That was too long; I would implode by that time—not to mention I was very ill from the pregnancy itself. I also knew that in Texas there was a 24 hour waiting period between your first appointment and when you could either get the first part of a medication abortion or have the procedure. I started looking for other options, and found a ‘women’s health clinic’ that advertised abortion consultation and administration of the abortion pill. I made an appointment for Monday morning, and tried to rest my anxious head.
Monday morning rolled around and I drove myself on the coldest day of the year to what I would discover to be a pro-life clinic. It was one of the most awful experiences I’ve ever had. I cried the entire time. They asked me if I felt guilty. They did an ultrasound and showed me my baby and played the heartbeat and then maliciously asked if I heard it. It will echo in my mind for the rest of my life. To this day I don’t know why I didn’t just walk out.
Luckily I had kept my Planned Parenthood appointment for the following day and that experience couldn’t have been more different. The women were kind and gentle and understanding and warm. They told me exactly what would happen and gave me all the information I could possibly want. They took my blood, told me I was slightly anemic, gave me iron pills, did a vaginal ultrasound, didn’t make me look at the screen, let me put on headphones with the sound of the ocean before they (by law) had to play the heartbeat...even over the sound of waves crashing I heard those 4 beats...but I appreciated the effort.
It was $156 for the ultrasound that day and they told me to come back the following day to get the first pill to begin a medication abortion. I couldn’t wrap my head around a vacuum sucking out the contents of my uterus—which is the procedure they do in the clinic. I was 7 weeks that day.
I went to my car and cried and sobbed and said I was sorry to this life I couldn’t care for and didn’t want. The following day I came back, they checked my iron again, went through more paperwork, told me exactly what would happen to me, and then I went into the surgical suite area to be administered the first pill (this would detach the pregnancy from my uterus and stop the production of progesterone). I was also given a brown paper bag that had anti-nausea medications, rx ibuprofen, 4 mifepristone tablets to be taken 24-48 hours later to complete the abortion, a free morning after pill, 4 condoms, and more literature. They told me to take the ibuprofen and anti-nausea 30 min before putting the 4 mifepristone in my cheeks (2 on each side) and letting them dissolve for 30 minutes before swallowing what was left. They told me that I may throw up right away but that was ok as long as I kept them in my mouth for 30 minutes.
After I took the first pill in front of the doctor I was sent on my way. I again, went to my car and cried. Then I waited for 24 hours in what was the most awful brand of anxiety I’d ever experienced. At exactly 24 hours the following day I took the ibuprofen and anti-nausea medications. They had also called in hydrocodone to the pharmacy that I had on hand in case the pain got too bad. 30 minutes later I put the 4 pills in my cheeks and got in the shower. 30 minutes after that I swallowed what was left and prepared myself for the worst.
I went and laid on the couch in a comfy propped up position and turned on The Office—my cure all. Within 15 minutes I was cramping beyond any pain I’d ever felt. I have an extremely high pain tolerance and I felt like I was going to pass out. I went to the bathroom after 30 min and saw no blood and took the hydrocodone in an attempt to help myself. 10 minutes later I began violently throwing up. I mean, violently. I was so paranoid that I’d thrown up some of the mifepristone I frantically searched the web to see if I had fucked up. My cramps also subsided for about 5 minutes and I thought ‘oh no did it just stop the process?’ Short answer: no. Nothing could stop this train.
My cramps got worse and worse and worse over the next 2 hours. I couldn’t even cry. I could only try to remain conscious. About the 2-2.5 hour mark I started bleeding lightly, then heavier and heavier. The cramps became less frequent but remained as intense. The bleeding became constant and very heavy with some small clots about the size of a quarter around hour 4. At hour 5 when I thought things had slowed down I experienced a very traumatic part of this process that no one really prepared me for: I passed the pregnancy tissue and the embryo. It was the size of a lemon. It felt like a water balloon coming out of me. It plopped into the toilet with a splash. Maybe there was no way of preparing for that. I felt it leave, I felt my body change at that moment. My cramps got significantly better, but my heart hurt.
Let me be clear here, I am and was and always will be 100% confident that I made the right choice. However I looked up many stories of women doing this and that was somehow left out. I’m here to tell you, that while it may not happen to everyone, you need to be prepared (as much as you can be) for that to happen. I will also say this: Planned Parenthood strongly urged me to have someone with me while I went through this, said that it wasn’t a requirement but they really preferred that I do. My mother was with me the whole time, but she didn’t know what was happening, she thought I was having a bad period, and I wish now that I would have just told her. It was very emotionally and physically taxing and she did take care of me in ways that I was not able to do myself.
You need to eat through this process. You’re losing a lot of blood. After I passed the pregnancy I wanted food and sugar immediately and without her there, it would have been very difficult to do that for myself. By hour 6-7 my cramps were manageable and I was very tired. I took another hydrocodone before going to bed and then slept for 12 hours. The next day I felt weak, my back was very sore, and I felt sadness in an overwhelming way. But I didn’t wake up nauseated as I had for the last 10 days, and my body felt like my body again. I alone inhabited my body, and I hadn’t realized how much I’d be sharing it for the last 7 weeks.
Nothing about any abortion is easy, literally not one thing. But I do believe that you know what’s right for you and you know it almost immediately, which is not to say you shouldn’t give it some real thought. Just know you’re not alone. Get help. Tell someone. Have someone with you. It’s not easy and there are parts that are very scary but you can do it. Women are strong as hell. You are so capable. Don’t forget it. Be kind and gentle with yourself and thank your body. I fell asleep holding my heart and telling myself thank you.” —Anonymous