A surgical abortion under sedation

By anonymous on 09/07/2012
I am a 32 year old woman and had a surgical abortion at 6 weeks 5 months ago.
I had just ended a relationship and a close friend was having difficulties with the person he was engaged to. We ended up sleeping together which I now regret. I was on the pill but had missed a few pills over the Christmas break. When I had my pill free break my period did not come. I tried to block out the possibility of pregnancy and kept willing my period to come all week. Finally I knew I had to do a pregnancy test and 2 blue lines appeared. I panicked and tried to think what on earth I was going to do. I had started a course at university that I really wanted to do, my friend already had a complicated situation and I didn't feel I could face or cope with having a baby alone.

I decided almost straight away I couldn't go through with the pregnancy and started looking into abortion.

The next day I saw my GP - she was very professional and non judgemental, she was upfront and told me there would be emotional consequences - I didn't want to acknowledge that at that stage and told her I was emotionally robust and prepared for that. She gave me the number for the nearest Marie Stopes clinic - I phoned them and got an appointment the same day - the appointment was quick, the nurse was very friendly and chatty, again very accepting and understanding, they talked me through my options, scanned me - the nurse couldn't see the pregnancy very clearly and had to get a second nurse in to check. They told me I was 6 weeks. My main concern at this point was the emotional consequences - the nurse was upfront and said that it was me that had to live with my decision. But she was also very reassuring and made me feel like it was ok to make that decision.
I went away to think about things and had a telephone consultation with a Marie Stopes counsellor.

I told my sister later that day - she had been through an abortion herself a few years ago and was supportive. I decided not to tell my friend (the father) for various reasons. I shed a lot of tears that day.

I initially opted for the medical termination but having read horror stories on the internet opted for the surgical procedure instead. I was booked in the following week.

The day of the procedure I can only describe as surreal. I opted for surgical abortion under sedation so had to be nil by mouth from midnight. I got the train to my nearest clinic - I went alone.
I remember sitting in the waiting room beforehand with three other women - one much younger than me sat playing on her iphone, one few years older than me who seemed relaxed and another girl probably in her twenties who I could see was fighting the tears. The atmosphere was tense and nobody said a word.
We all got called through one by one, I saw a nurse initially who took my blood pressure and talked through inserting the contraceptive implant which I opted to have at the same time. She asked me if I was ok and I burst into tears, she asked if I was still sure about going ahead which I said I was. She was lovely and told me "you're going to be okay I promise" although I couldn't help wondering how true that was.

Next I was taken through to the pre op room, told to remove my clothes from the waist down and put on a sarong/sheet round my waist. Then I was taken through to the theatre, they did the implant first under local anaesthetic, then put the needle in my arm, gave me two syringes of liquid, one i know was propofol the sedative, I don't know what the other one was. They worked fast and I soon felt myself go woozy.
My only memory is of being vaguely aware of something going on, I could hear the voices of the surgeons and nurses but I don't remember what was said, the next thing I knew the nurse was helping me to put my knickers back on and two of them walked me through to recovery.
The atmostphere in recovery was jovial - everyone seemed happy, relieved and were chatting. I was groggy, but also very relaxed from the sedation and I remember asking the girl sat opposite me how long it lasted and she responded "not long enough". I remember the music that seemed to be coming from a corridor between theatre and recovery, it seemed too loud and inappropriate somehow. I now realise the jovial atmosphere in the recovery room was result of the drugs they gave us. What struck me most was how busy it was, and how many women seemed to pass through that recovery room.

It was like a conveyor belt, and all very lighthearted.

At the time I found it reassuring - I wasn't going through it alone, later on I find it quite sad.
I wasn't in any pain, just a mild stomach cramp. I didn't have too much bleeding afterwards, just a couple of days of heavy bleeding and very little pain.
Emotionally I felt relieved initially. However this was soon joined with guilt, shame, feelings of emptiness, self consciousness and vulnerability. I had a rough few weeks emotionally straight afterwards. I isolated myself from my friends as I faced up to my shame both about sleeping with a friend who is engaged and then aborting the resulting pregnancy. I've had all sorts of moral arguments with myself in my head about the abortion. I've wondered what my baby would have been like, and have a feeling it was a girl. I found myself anxious wondering if that could have been my only chance to have a baby - I still worry about this and I fear that if I do get pregnant again in the future I may have to deal with emotions that may arise from this situation.
I see a counsellor and she's been a wonderful help.
Ultimately I decided that the decision I made was made so that I could get on with my life and my plans - so I had to continue to do that and not let this whole experience get in the way of that. That's been a lot easier said than done. Nothing will take away what happened and my life will never be the same again. Yet I continue with my studies and my life on a day to day basis. It did get easier, but I still have days where I'm faced with difficult emotions - today was one of those days and that's why I came back here and decided to share my story.

I think on reflection I rushed my decision

I panicked and I wanted to undo what I had done and abortion was a way I could do that. Realistically nothing could undo what I did and I know this experience will continue to affect me. I think abortion is very easily available in the UK and I wish I'd sought out more support in the decision making process. I didn't know about my local pregnancy crisis centre at that stage. Had I known I'd have gone. But thankfully I've found this website to be a massive help in the aftermath so for that I thank you. I wish anyone going through this the best of luck - it's been the most difficult thing I've had to go through in my life, and an awful decision to make in any circumstance.

Editor's Comment

Thank you for sharing your story which highlighted very clearly the dilemma you faced, and how panic and fear can drive you towards a quick decision to fix the problem. The emotionals you describe are very painful, and difficult to come to terms with when your decision felt like the right one at the time. It's hard looking back and wishing you had had more information and support.
I am glad that you have a counsellor to walk through this recovery time with you, and that the website has been a support to you.

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