This month I made the most difficult choice I have ever made.
Decisions (November 2013)
This month I made the most difficult choice I have ever made. Four weeks ago, I had three positive pregnancy tests in a row. My partner and his family were totally supportive and behind whatever I wanted to do one-hundred-percent. Initially, after much discussion over the course of a weekend, my partner and I decided to keep the baby. We are in our early twenties, and yet at the time we felt that though we lacked the immediate resources, we had the ambition and love necessary to make it work. I have always known I wanted children, and I felt that since we had been so careful with birth control that this conception was, in a sense, “meant to happen”. In the weeks before I knew I was pregnant, I had started to feel a new presence around me, and it grew stronger as I began to feel this intimate connection with the little being growing inside of me.
Over the next couple weeks, I slowly came to the realization that in spite of my early hopes and convictions, I was nowhere near ready to have a child. As the reality sunk in, I began to feel frustrated and depressed. I was experiencing terrible morning sickness, couldn’t work, and it was putting a huge stress on my partner that he could hardly handle. It clarified for me that if my neediness was too much for us, the stress of a baby might send us over the edge. Yet when I told him that I had changed my mind, he expressed deep disappointment and again assured me that it would work. I explained to him why I felt I could not continue with the pregnancy. I knew that an abortion was the more loving decision, over bringing a little one into a stressed environment where he or she couldn’t thrive. There was no way I could justify putting an infant in an aggravated situation.
By the time I finally got an appointment with Planned Parenthood and had worked out all of the financial aspects of paying for the abortion, it was nearly two weeks later. I would be charged $455 flat, which, thankfully, my partner helped me pay for. In this time I had grown weak from hardly being able to eat anything, and though I still felt conflict inside about terminating the pregnancy, I was ready to take action and make a choice.
I had an ultrasound and learned I was eight weeks pregnant.
It tore at my heart to see the small circle in my womb that was much bigger than I expected.I decided that I wanted to have a medical abortion. The idea of a surgical abortion felt frightening and far too invasive for me. It also felt very disconnected. I wanted to be able to be awake and coherent enough so that I could go through the emotional process in the same time I was experiencing the physical process. I preferred the idea of doing it at home, where I could be in a familiar, peaceful space and have some control over the environment. In a sense, I felt it comparable to giving birth at home versus in a hospital where strangers and medical equipment are facilitating a very intimate and personal experience.
My partner and I were given information and instructions, signed the release forms, and I swallowed the first pill, 200 mg of mifepristone, along with some anti-nausea medication so I could keep it down. This was at 4:00 pm. As soon as I took the first pill, I knew there was no going back, and I knew I had made the right decision. I was feeling well enough to eat so my partner and I went out to dinner and spent the evening talking, processing, cuddling, and crying. Having him there to support me made all of the difference.
Throughout the evening and the next day I experienced nausea (though no more than my morning sickness had caused), irritability, and sharp sudden pains in my breasts and lower back that occurred sporadically. I slept soundly, worn out from the weeks of accumulated stress.
In the morning my partner went to work, planning to return later in the afternoon. I spent the day nesting, cleaning my room and bathroom, preparing myself physically and emotionally. I stretched and meditated and took time to say goodbye to the baby, and began to feel peace between my little one and I. I arranged all of my things so that I could be as comfortable as possible. I set up the room with soft lighting, had a heating pad and a container (in case I vomited) at the ready near my bed, and draped fabric across my bookshelf and dresser to give the room a softer feel. I spread a fresh towel over my bed. In the bathroom I had a space heater (it was November in a Northern climate), a squatting stool, and a chair for my partner to sit on if needed. I also put out some extra towels just in case. I went with my instincts and logic in order to prepare.
Although I prepared well, there were a couple things I would have done differently. First of all, we hadn’t gone to the pharmacy ahead of time, and so my partner had to take me that afternoon around 3:30. That was cutting it close, as I wanted to stick to the plan and take the second round of pills at 4:00. In the written schedule I had been given at the clinic, I was also supposed to take vicodin (hydrocodone) at 2:30. I picked up my prescription, returned home, and made the final preparations. I put on a maxi pad and relaxed. I took 1000 mg (two tablets) of vicodin and two tablets of Ibuprofen at around 4:00 pm. I wanted to let the pain meds kick in a bit. At 4:30 I then inserted two misoprostol tablets into each side of my mouth, as instructed, and let them dissolve for half an hour. During that time I sat in meditation and listened to calming music, tuning into my body and my emotions.
The pills dissolved so quickly that by the time my ½ hour timer went off, I had already swallowed quite a bit of the medication. I washed down the rest with a glass of water. My tongue, cheeks, and throat had also become very sore, which wasn’t a listed side effect. We called the emergency line we’d been given and were told it might be a mild allergic reaction, and to go to the ER if I had any swelling or trouble breathing. (Neither of those things happened, and I would later find the soreness had gone away by the end of the night).
I continued to sit and listen to music, my partner quietly sitting nearby. At about 5:30, and just half an hour after the pills had dissolved, I began to experience mild cramping and nausea. At first he pain was no worse than my normal menstrual cramps. About five minutes later the pain in my lower abdomen had steadily increased and I began to shiver and experience chills, so I tried lying in bed under my blankets. Lying down made the cramps worse. I then started to regret taking the vicodin so late, realizing that it probably would take longer that I estimated to kick in.
I tried sitting on my bed, standing, and squatting on the floor, but nothing felt comfortable and the pain was getting past the point of my worst menstrual cramps. I started to feel a heavy, pulling sensation in my uterus. The contractions were intense and I began to sweat and I stripped down to my panties. Around 6:00 pm I had to vomit, and I felt a little concerned that I had thrown up the medication. But then, right on schedule, I began to bleed. I sat on the toilet. I had a heating pad pressed to my lower abdomen. I put my feet up on my squatting stool. I put on my music and began to do some deep breathing. At this point I had a breakthrough.
Instead of tensing up and resisting the pain, I accepted it. I went into the feelings and let them flow through me, breathing into each contraction. I fell into deep relaxation. I continued this way for about an hour, passing several small blood clots. I drank a glass of water to stay hydrated and took another nausea pill.
A little after 7:00 pm, though still calm and relaxed, the pain became much more intense. I vomited again. (Thankfully I had brought a container into the bathroom for this so I wouldn’t have to move). My intestines were also cramping, but that was relieved greatly after I had a bowel movement. I asked my partner for another vicodin, which I promptly took. I’d say at this point the pain peaked and then it began to subside during the next hour.
At 8:00 pm, I was exhausted, partially from the contractions and partially from the drowsiness caused by vicodin. My nausea faded. I got up and walked around a little to give my legs and butt a rest from squatting. I returned to the toilet and relaxed into the heating pad. I then passed a very large clot, about the size of a lemon from the feel of it. At this moment, I felt the presence that had been with me the past couple months begin to leave, like an energy rising from by womb, up and out through my body.
I knew the baby was gone. I felt an incredible sense of lossI cried and focused on breathing. I was able to release a great deal.
By 9:00 pm the contractions had reduced to mild cramps. I experienced some vertigo and lightheadedness. I felt ready to lie down. At this point I had flushed the toilet several times, which I did again. It was the only part of the experience that really felt wrong to me. The idea of flushing the baby and placenta felt awful, but there wasn’t an alternative. If I’d had a surgical abortion everything would probably be dumped in a waste container. I’m still not sure how I feel about this.
My partner helped me put things away in the bathroom. I washed up and brushed my teeth, got dressed, and relaxed in bed. I had to change pads a couple times over the next two hours. I also passed one more large clot.
Before sleep I took one last vicodin and a nausea pill just in case. I felt immense relief, and welling grief. I cried myself to sleep as I sank into the bed, my partner’s hand resting on mine.
For the next two weeks, I bled. It began quite heavier than my average menstrual flow. The cramps gradually decreased. I noticed a clear and consistent correlation between my level of exercise and the heaviness of the bleeding. If I got my heart rate up by moving around frequently, walking quickly or uphill, I always noticed more bleeding.
One day I stretched backward, and I felt a sharp pain in my uterus. The flow became heavy almost immediately. The next morning I began to experience a sharp pain in the same place in my uterus, intermittently, about every three to five minutes. It continued into the evening. I started passing small clots. Concerned, I phoned the nurse on call and described my symptoms. Because the amount of bleeding wasn’t at an alarming level ( I wasn’t soaking through more than two maxi pads every few hours), there wasn’t any alarm. The nurse explained to me that my uterus was simply extracting the remaining blood and tissue. She said to monitor the pain and bleeding, and call if it got worse. Comforted, I relaxed.
By the end of the second week, the flow had reduced to light spotting. Several days later the spotting had stopped, even after heavy exercise. I went to my follow-up appointment at Planned Parenthood and had an ultrasound, which concluded my uterus empty and the abortion successful.
I only took two out of six antibiotics prescribed to me (one the day before the abortion and one the day after). I ate plenty of probiotic-rich foods and called it good. I didn’t feel like killing off my healthy bacteria in addition to any potential harmful ones. I cannot recommend this, as I’m not a doctor. You might say I took a risk. However, I didn’t develop an infection or any other complications. Everything had gone well.
It’s been six weeks since the abortion, and yesterday I began a normal menstrual cycle. My body has recovered, and I am finally feeling nourished and healthy after all the morning sickness and malnutrion. Emotionally, I have had ups and downs.