A medical abortion that took 51 hrs to begin

By anonymous on 20/03/2011
My medical abortion took 51 hours to begin! ... I went through a medical abortion last night. (Sunday) I took the second set of tablets bucally on Friday afternoon at about half past 3. Got a taxi home from the Marie Stopes clinic in central London and set myself up on the sofa to await what I was expecting to be the most excruciating pain of my life.
I had read stories online before the process and the vast majority made it sound absolutely dreadful. I felt a few twinges at around 7pm and had a very small amount of watery blood but nothing bad enough to even need ibuprofen or a hot water bottle. Expecting it to get worse, I didn't have any dinner, (after reading about all the vomiting and diarrhoea that lots of women go through) By about 11pm nothing had happened and I fell asleep, fully expecting to be woken up with cramps in the night... No such luck. The next morning I woke up, no morning sickness, no pain, and no blood, nothing. The clinic had warned me that for some, the process takes longer, but by 24 hours later I was not only impatient for it to start, but worried that it had failed, worried about taking time off work the following week, (I'd specifically arranged appointments to take as little time off as possible) and the worst, feeling as though my body was really fighting to keep me pregnant, that the 'product of conception' really wasn't giving up. All day Saturday I had never been so low.

I was regreting the medical abortion because it felt so drawn out and unpredictable.

I want to stress this to anyone who's trying to decide between the medical and surgical options. To me it was not just the physical, but the emotional side, of feeling like I was in limbo and the not knowing what would happen that made me wish I'd opted for surgical. I went for a very long walk in a bid to speed up the abortion, but nothing was happening. No cramping, hardly any blood, and what did come out reminded me of the brownish thicker blood at the end of a period. The sanitary towel remained annoyingly empty!
I went online, nearly in tears, to see if there were other people with similar experiences to mine, but most reported back the usual stuff about it happening a few hours after the pills. I'm typing this up now so that other people will feel less alone and worried if they are in the same situation as I was.

Eventually on Saturday night I went to bed feeling very despondant and the lowest I'd ever been.

I honestly felt like it'd never happen and after all that anguish I'd end up back at the clinic for a surgical abortion.
Waking on Sunday with still nothing happening was distressing, how could I put my life on hold for up to two weeks waiting for this to happen? I spoke to a nurse on the 24 hour helpline who advised me not to go to work just in case. This left me feeling stressed as I couldn't just take lots of time off, especially as no one at work knew the reason why! Anyway, thankfully, and finally, after 51 hours of waiting, on Sunday evening after doing a million sit ups, (and a bit of window shopping down the road) I began to get a feeling of pressure and a familiar, not especially painful crampy feeling. I sat down for half an hour, feeling excited that change was afoot, then went to the toilet. I had a sanitary towel on, but it was only really when I sat down that quite a large gush of blood came out. It was such a relief that I didn't notice any pain, and rather than being put off the blood, it was welcomed.
I used a hot water bottle, mainly to warm me up as I felt quite shivery, then went back to the toilet again to 'wee' some more blood. This time I felt a strange sensation like a grape dropping out of me.

I looked down and saw what I thought must have been the foetus.

It was about the size of a very small oblong grape with a few stringy bits that looked like tiny blood vessels coming off it. After this, I felt a mixture of emptiness, relief and sadness. I passed some more clots. (which is a very strange feeling actually) then everything eased off, I ate some food and went to bed.
This morning I woke up to a very mild cramp, or aches from all the sit-ups, and a bit of blood but just like a normal period. I've taken today off work after all just in case, but expect to be totally back on my feet tomorrow.
If anyone's reading this waiting for something to happen, all I can say from my experience is to try (even though it's really hard) to be patient and to relax. it's hard to postpone your life while waiting, but for me I'm sure the anxiousness and stressing only made it worse. Also, though professionals wouldn't recommend it, the sit-ups did a great job of kick-starting the process!

I am 26 years old and was 7 weeks pregnant.

I don't take pain all that well usually, and for me, it really wasn't bad at all. Perhaps because of the relief that it was finally going ahead, or from reading all the horror stories, I'd say when it did finally happen it was far less shocking and awful than I was expecting. But the waiting and waiting and worrying were absolutely worse. In retrospect I still think I'd have opted for a surgical procedure, only because I found it so frustrating. I feel lucky that it's happened now and that I can return to my life.

Editor's Comment

It's helpful to hear different experiences. I don't think anyone has written in with a story like this, and I can imagine you felt anxious not knowing what was happening. It does highlight the problem of being sent home when something goes wrong. I hope you are now recovering although the feelings of emptiness and sadness may linger. If you need help or support the national helpline is open 5 days a week 9am until 9pm, as well as Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon.

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