A late term medical abortion

I would just like to share my story about my Medical Termination at 16 weeks. I found advice I had read on the internet very helpful when preparing myself and hope that by sharing my story I can help others going through a very difficult experience.
I won't go into the details of why I had to terminate my pregnancy. I believe in every woman's right to choose and believe that every situation is totally unique and you can only do what feels right.

Counselling is the best option

If anyone is having difficulty in deciding whether a later term abortion is the right choice for them then counselling is the best option.
Don't trawl through online forums and blogs, as personally I was very certain about my decision but reading some of the online blogs upset and disturbed me unnecessarily.
I was referred to the R.V.I in Newcastle for my consultation on a Wednesday. The staff there were fantastic. They didn't ask any difficult questions about why I was there, just medical ones. They did a scan and I didn't have to look, after which they explained my abortion options. As they couldn't do the usual late surgery abortion I was told my only option was a late medical abortion. At this point I did feel apprehensive as the nurse went through all the dangers involved. However re-reading through the leaflet when I got home I realised they were just the standard risks with pretty much any invasive medical procedures and they just have to warn you about the worst case scenario.
After my appointment I was sent up to the day ward to arrange my appointment. I did feel quite nervous and upset knowing that this was where it would happen, in the rooms up the corridor, however seeing the nurses coming and going and smiling kindly put me at ease. Again I went through some medical details and had the procedure explained to me and was given the dates for my termination, the following Saturday and Monday. These days in-between were the most difficult for me. I just wanted to get the day over with as I know many of you will be feeling/will have felt.
On the Saturday I went in at 8am (they were really nice and said anytime in the morning was fine to pop in) and was given my Mifepristone tablet, which stops the hormones supporting the pregnancy. It felt very strange walking around the next couple of days knowing that the pregnancy had stopped and by now there was no turning back. To be honest I did not find that the leaflets given by the NHS prepared me enough for what I would experience on the day. I talked my sister through what I had read on the leaflet compared with what I had read on an internet forum, and they were very different! If you are having a later term abortion like I did then I would like to explain how it happened for me and you can mentally prepare yourself as I'm glad I had the opportunity to do!
I went into hospital at 8am, I felt really surprised as they gave me my own huge room with a big comfy seat for my sister and a wardrobe/tv/shower and toilet all just for my use. The friendly nurse said she'd be in soon with my tablets however we had to wait half an hour as I guess she was waiting for other arrivals to the ward to begin our procedures at the same time. I was given 2 Misoprostol tablets to insert vaginally (they let you do this yourself in your bathroom or they can help you) and a hospital sanitary pad and then told to lie down for 20-30 mins then wait for 3 hours. After lying down I decided to head out to the hosptial café but after walking there I began to feel very sick and get aches in my stomach. I slowly walked back to my room where I was sick straight away. This is how the day went for me really! I also suffered from diarrhoea quite bady through the day, but this can be quite normal. I guess some people will have a bad reaction to the pain and the medication. Everything I tried to drink/eat came straight back up.
After the 3 hours were over I was given another 2 tablets which were meant to be taken by mouth by as I'd been sick I took them vaginally. In this next 3 hours the cramps really started to get bad. Nothing happened still. At 2.30pm I took another set of tablets vaginally. I was in quite a lot of pain by now! I walked around, curled into a ball but it was very hard to get comfortable and after throwing up paracetamol and a stronger painkiller I'd been given before I eventually had to ask the nurse for stronger pain relief. They were fine about this and gave me a shot diamorphine in my behind which took the edge off the cramps and I was very glad to have it! I also managed to drink some juice and water and eat a biscuit.
As I was quite far on I was expecting a long stay but did begin to feel like maybe it wasn't working after having NO bleeding since the first tablet on the Saturday.

However everything happened very quickly for me after the 4th set of tablets at 5.30pm.

Around an hour later I went to the loo (some girls have said they felt the fluid as they stood up) and noticed a very thick sticky/snotty/bloody looking discharge(sorry to be so gross but that's just how it is!) which was basically the waters breaking. After this the cramps got quite intense and soon after when I was sat up in bed I felt a heaviness pushing down from my vagina. As I stood up I felt a weight between my legs and knew that this was the foetus. I had informed the nurse about the blood previously so every time I went to the loo I had to put a cardboard bedpan under the seat. So I just ran in and as soon as my pants came down it just slipped out very easily! It was all very quick, along with lots and lots of blood (so don't be scared if it look like its filling up the bedpan). The one thing I will say is even though people advised me not to look at the foetus as they have the memory burned onto their brain , it was very hard not to notice it if you look down at all. I was a bit shocked that it looked so much like a tiny bright red baby so please be warned.

It was nothing like the pictures the pro-life campaigners have. It was a lot more like a baby.

I had to get my sister to call the nurse but there is an alarm you can call for them from. She quickly came in and cut the umbilical cord and left a little plastic tag on the end which you cant really feel and told to wait for the placenta to pass. This didn't take too long and again it happened as I was going to the loo. After this the nurse came and checked what I had passed and said it all looked to be whole so there wouldn't be a risk of anything being left behind (one of the dangers of medical abortion as it can lead to further surgery or infection). I had to wait another hour and go to the loo so they could check there was nothing else passing or any heavy bleeding.
I received antibiotics and a shot as I am O rhesus negative blood type (if this is you too then you will have it explained to you, nothing to worry about). I didn't need to arrange a follow up appointment as I passed everything on the day and I was home by 9.30pm. In the days since I've had period like pains and bleeding and passed a few clots but its been fine.

My mental health is the one thing I will keep an eye on though

I know it might take a few weeks for what has happened to sink in. It will feel like a horrible and painful event on the day and you might never forget it, but please know you can move on and take it with you and think how strong you have become through going through this experience.
It hasn't put me off trying for children in the future at all. The final thing I would like to say is a huge thank you to the staff and my sister for their support. The NHS hospital was fantastic, even though I was seen by a variety of nurses, they were all very kind and caring towards me and I felt very well looked after and not judged AT all.

Editor's Comment

Thanks for describing your experience of a late term medical abortion. It is good to hear personal experience and how that compares with information given.
It struck me that you had an image of the fetus from a pro life campaign, and what you saw was not like this but more recognisable as a baby. I hope that mentally you continue to cope well but don't be afraid to admit you are struggling as support can really help you to think through your experience and process difficult emotions.
This story was sent in on 24/07/2011 and it's been viewed 6,567 times.

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