I had a late medical abortion at 18 weeks

I had a late medical abortion at 18 weeks just over a year ago. I live in England and had this done on the NHS in my local hospital. I won't go into my story, how it happened, my reasoning for the decision etc, I am here to share the physical experience as I was not warned and do not want anybody to go in to it unprepared how I was. I had the first pill and returned home - I had no ill effects from this and felt completely fine. No cramping, no bleeding - nothing. I returned to the hospital 3 days later with a 6pm appointment. I was given a painkiller up the bottom and 4(?) pills up my vagina. I was then advised to lay for an hour and ensure that every time I went to the toilet, whether a wee, number two, I did it in to the pan and called the nurses to check the contents. I felt nothing for 3-4 hours, nothing happened - no cramping, no bleeding. After 4 hours, they came and gave me another set of pills. A couple of hours in, I started getting diarrhoea and some gunky white stuff - I think this may have been the painkillers etc. Other than this, nothing except a few very mild cramps. After another four hours (so it's now 2am - I have been there 8 hours) they gave me another set of pills. Between 2am and 6am I started experiencing some moderate cramping, still no bleeding, nothing unbearable. Another four hours - 6am, 12 hours. Shift change, nurse comes in and gives me four more and says that if this lot do not work, they will have to send me home - she didn't really explain why, or what the next step would be from there. Around 2 hours after the last lot of pills at around 8am a nurse came in to check on me as by this point I was experiencing terrible, doubled over in agony cramping and felt that giving it had now been 14 hours since my painkiller, another one may be due. As the nurse came in the room, I felt a sudden jolt in my stomach and pressure around my vagina. I remember sitting on the edge of the bed in tears trying to explain I was in agony and I thought the baby had come out. As I stood up, water came gushing out everywhere - my waters had broken. I was in shock as had not been advised this was going to happen and that I would essentially be going in to labour. I was in pain, shocked and terrified - my legs were trembling so much I literally couldn't stand and the poor nurse (who was pregnant - I found this relatively insensitive!) had to change my underwear and sanitary pad I was hysterical. They changed my bedding etc, gave me another painkiller and said to call if anything else happened. For the next 2-3 hours I experienced intermittent agonizing cramps which I now know to be contractions. Around 11am (having been in the hospital now for 15 hours) I felt a build up of pressure and darted to the bathroom. I sat down and felt the urge to push - and push I did. The baby fell out of me and in to the bedpan - it wasn't particularly large, but large enough that I had to push a few times to get it out. I went to stand up, and realized that it wasn't detaching from me - the umbilical cord was attached. Again, this was not something I had been warned of and again, the shock sent me into hysterics. I rang the bell for the nurse and sat on the toilet for 10-15 minutes before she arrived and cut the umbilical cord - at this point I was advised I still needed to pass the placenta. After another 20 minutes on the toilet pushing, this also fell out. 18 hours following going into the hospital, I was cleaned up, advised it was over and sent on my way. I essentially gave birth to my dead baby - whilst I do not regret the decision I made as it was most certainly the right decision for me - and the baby, I am still over a year later traumatized by the experience and full of guilt. I suppose the process of actually giving birth made the 'foetus' seem more real. I'm not trying to put anybody off - if it is the right decision for you, then so be it. I just really want to make people aware of the process, as having discussed with others who had a late term medical - they were also not given any warnings of what the experience would involve, so please prepare yourselves.

Editor's Comment

It sounds as though you went through a very traumatic experience and I do think that medical staff have a duty to explain the procedure so that you know what will happen and what to expect. What you describe is fairly standard for a late medical abortion, although the time it takes can vary. The medication essentially causes your womb to contract (go into labour), and eventually expel the foetus. At 18 weeks the foetus is fully formed and about 12cm long, so you will see what you pass, and it will be quite substantial.
I can understand your distress if this was not what you were expecting or prepared for, and if you are still feeling traumatised then I would recommend that you receive some post abortion support to process these difficult memories and emotions. Help is available, for post abortion support., or call the psot abortion helpline 0300 4000 999.
This story was sent in on 28/11/2014

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