I’d like to start by saying that it does pay to do your research
After reading countless stories on this website from ladies who had undergone a termination, I wish to share my story. I hope that it settles the nerves of anyone who is going through what I did.
I’d like to start by saying that it does pay to do your research. I had initially decided that the medical method (tablets) would be the least invasive and therefore the best way to end my pregnancy. However, after reading lots of accounts from ladies who had opted for this method, I decided that it would be too traumatic to go through.
I should add that for some women this will be perfectly fine, but after taking in all the facts, and looking into post-procedure satisfaction rates for both groups (medical and surgical) I decided I would ask for a surgical termination.
When I first went to the hospital for my appointment and scan, I was advised I was too early to date. This meant I had to wait another fortnight before we could discuss which method to use. Although the waiting was tough, in a way it was a blessing, as it allowed me more time to be completely sure that this was the right thing to do.
I was lucky to have a supportive partner, understanding friends and a family member to confide in. During the second appointment, it was possible to date the pregnancy; I was just over 8 weeks now. I sat and chatted with the nurse, and explained that I’d prefer to have the surgical method and to be under general anaesthetic.
Luckily, for surgical abortions, this is the standard method of anaesthetic for the hospital I attended (Newcastle RVI). There was a waiting list, and I was booked in for 3 weeks’ time. This meant I would be 11 weeks on the day of the procedure.
I must say that every nurse I’d seen during the whole process had been friendly, professional, and kind. I never once felt judged or uncomfortable.
The day of the procedure arrived, and as advised, I ate tea and toast for breakfast before 7.30 am. I was allowed to drink water only until 11 am after this.
Upon arrival at the hospital, both myself and my boyfriend were nervous. However when we arrived at the ward, we were greeted by one of the nurses, who showed us to my private room, and advised that she would be looking after me today, and if I had any questions etc. just to give her a shout. She was very comforting and professional throughout the whole day.
I was advised that I was last on the list for the day (owing to me being the furthest along – the tablets you insert to soften the neck of the womb need longer to work the further along you are). I had brought with me magazines, a book and made sure my phone was fully charged. I had a private bathroom with a shower (which I didn’t need to use). I wore comfortable clothes, and switched from pumps to slippers when I arrived (I’d advise you take some socks/slippers, as you have a bed to rest on while you’re waiting to go in and back from recovery).
At around 11 am, I was asked to insert the two tablets as far up as I could manage, to help soften my cervix. I didn’t feel any side-effects from this at all. After this, I had a one to one chat with the anaesthetist, a lovely female doctor.
She explained that during the procedure I would be given sedation, anti-sickness medication, pain relief, and the general anaesthetic to keep me asleep. I would also be given a painkiller in suppository form, which would slowly release pain relief.
I then had a one on one chat with the doctor, who would be carrying out the procedure (or so I thought, it turned out I was seen by a senior consultant as I was the furthest along). She answered my questions, and I was glad to speak directly to a doctor who carried this procedure out regularly.
The waiting was hard, as I started to get pretty hungry by around 3 pm, but it’s necessary to have an empty stomach for the anaesthetic.
At around 3.45 pm I was called into surgery. A porter arrived with another nurse, and I was wheeled through the hospital to the theatre. I wasn’t all that nervous at this stage… it was only when I was in the private prep room (where the sedative and anaesthetic is administered) that I started to get a bit twitchy.
The nurses were great though, and asked me about work etc. and told me everything would be alright. The anaesthetist that I’d met earlier that morning calmed me and explained that the sedation would soon kick in and that I’d feel a bit hazy. I can recall looking away (I don’t really like needles, but then again, who does?!) and slowly drifting out.
The next thing I remember is being gently woken by another nurse, who in a comforting voice told me that it was all over and that it was time to wake up. At first, I couldn’t believe it; I honestly thought I was still waiting to go in. She explained again that it was all done now, and that I was fine.
I realised I was now in recovery. The sense of relief, even through the fog of anaesthetic, was huge. I wasn’t in much pain (a little cramping). I started to shiver, a side effect of the anaesthetic. This wore off after about 10-15 minutes. I was offered a codeine tablet for the pain, which I accepted.
I was advised that the procedure had taken a little longer than expected, due to the consultant not being convinced that it was complete. I guess the more times you carry out an operation like this, the better the feel you get for it – he had said he wasn’t happy with the amount of tissue that had been collected from the vacuum aspiration device.
This could be because I have a little belly fat which made it harder to complete, or perhaps my womb lies at a funny angle. Either way, they decided to scan again and carry the process out again. I was completely unconscious throughout the whole thing, and was only aware of this afterwards when it was explained to me. I was told that he was now 100% happy that the termination was complete. Being seen by a doctor who is a perfectionist is a good thing, when it’s something as important as this.
I was wheeled back to the ward to my private room, where I could see my boyfriend (who was pretty relieved to see me back!) I was told to relax, take my time, and given a sandwich, a cup of tea and some biscuits. I was advised to use the loo when I felt ready.
As expected, the first time I sat on the loo, there was a small gush of blood, but thankfully you’re provided with baby wipes, clean sanitary pads, lots of loo roll etc. I got dressed and sat back on the bed.
The nurse returned, and said I looked much better already, and I was allowed to go home (this was about an hour after I’d fully come around from the general). I was given aftercare advice, antibiotics to avoid infection, and an emergency number in case I felt unwell.
I was also advised to see my GP/gynaecologist in 6 weeks’ time, as I had opted to have the copper IUD fitted while I was asleep, which I can recommend if you’re thinking of having this fitted, as from all accounts it hurts if you’re awake, so I had the luxury of already being out cold!
It’s nearly a week on now, and I feel emotionally fine, physically I’m improving, but just taking it very easy. I returned to work today after 2 days away, and a 3 day weekend (bank holiday). For the first couple of days I did very little, rested in bed with my boyfriend watching TV and eating well.
I am still bleeding, but nothing particularly heavy or painful. I take paracetamol and ibuprofen when I need it, but that’s usually only once or twice a day.
This isn’t an easy decision to make, but I must thank the staff at Newcastle RVI for their professional, non-judgmental and warm and friendly manner. We’re lucky to live in a country where this treatment is available through the NHS, and for that I’m very grateful.
This story was sent in on 28/05/2013