The shock of my life, pregnant at 41

At 41 years old, finding myself pregnant was the biggest shock of my life. But... accidents happen. I was awaiting sterilisation and a womb ablation (cauterising the lining due to my severe periods)when I found out. I had had a terrible period in November and when it was light in Dec I thought nothing of it. Cutting a long story short, and believe me, I cannot believe how long it took for the penny to drop.

I did a test On Jan 10th which caused hysteria and shock when it came up positive

My husband was distraught. We knew we had no option as my back, already damaged, was making walking difficult and I just didn't feel that I had prepared my body for pregnancy - no alcohol, folic acid etc.
The appointments were all very quickly in place and efficient. I had a dating scan and obviously didn't look, and then was given some advice and asked what I wanted.
I went to the hospital for the first oral tablet on the 22nd Jan. This makes the womb non-viable for a foetus to grow. I felt ok after it but had some period type pains over the next day or so. By then you almost have a feeling of inevitability about what is coming. I returned on the 24th and was looked after by nurses who do this on a daily basis.

They were, gentle, supportive and empathetic

I was in a room with a much younger girl and our experiences were greatly different. I had the 4 vaginal tablets about 8.30am and after lying down for an hour was encouraged to move around as much as possible. By about 11.30 I was having very strong period pains and a slight bleed. I carried on moving around but nothing changed.
In the meantime, the younger girl had gone through it and was released at about 1pm.
I went for another walk... up and down stairs... at which point I felt a huge flood arrive. I got back to the ward (only me there now) and used the bed pans as we had been instructed to do for everything that passed including depositing of santitary towels.

I continued to bleed heavily and at 1.30pm after a lot of clots, I passed the baby

(maybe I shouldn't call it that but as this is my personal experience I cannot use the word 'foetus'. Too clinical at this point).
I cannot lie, at this point I was devastated. I shouldn't have, but I looked at it, knowing what it was and felt desperately about what I had done. The nurse was marvellous - confirmation, a cuddle and a cup of sweet tea. I called my husband and he came to be with me. I thought I would be fine on my own but was very distressed. By 3.15, while bleeding and clotting very heavily, I still hadn't passed the placenta. The nurses intervened but couldn't get to it at that point. I continued walking around and rushing to and from the loo and at around 4 they have me an injection to contract my womb. It still didn't come out and they began talking about transferring me overnight. By this time I was exhausted, emotionally drained, my back was in agony and I just wanted to come home to my children. The nurses tried again and with a lot of 'lying back thinking of England' while I was pushed around a lot, the placenta finally was removed.
Almost immediately the bleeding calmed and I relaxed somewhat. I was allowed home at 5.30 and after a shower, literally collapsed into bed. I felt dizzy and faint. My children thought I was having a back operation so weren't unduly concerned, other than they don't like seeing me ill and were a bit fretful. The next day, the bleeding was light and I felt physically stronger. Emotionally, I was all over the place; crying a lot and kept seeing the tiny little thing I had passed in my head.

I still feel raw now

Common sense is trying its best to balance things out, knowing that I would not have been physically able to carry a baby without damaging myself further nor all the looking after and carrying I would have had to do, had I gone through with it. I think I was quite extreme: when I had my children my labours were a combined 50 hours. Just don't seem to be able to do 'womb' things easily. No matter what though, I have come through the other side and guarantee that anyone going through this will be ok during and after the event. Just expect to feel knocked around emotionally and physically for a while. I would recommend you take loads of juice to drink as they tell you to drink a lot and there's only so much water you can take; plus you need a bit of sugar. I would also advise anyone to take baby wipes to clean up as you do feel a bit messy down there and take plenty of pants and comfy trousers to change into. Everyone is different but best to be prepared. Everone's reasons for going through this experience will be different, as will their actual experience of it while it is happening. This is a very personal choice and a very personal experience and I wish everyone well who chooses to make this journey.

Editor's Comment

Thank you for sharing your story. It must have been a shock to find out you were pregnant when you thought your family was complete. The procedure sounded very log and drawn out, and very distressing to see the baby that you passed. It's often easier to get over physical trauma than emotional pain and what you describe is not unusual. It may be that you will feel you need to address the emotional part of your experience, and I would encourage you to seek help if you are still finding the abortion is affecting you in a few months. You can call the national helpline 0300 4000 999, log on to Online advisor, or follow the link to find a centre for post abortion support in your area.

This story was sent in on 01/02/2011

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