The choice to terminate was possibly the most straightforward decision for the welfare of my little girl

By V on 12/08/2015
medical abortion abortion at 21 weeks

Late medical abortion due to medical complications at 21 weeks.

I write this with a heavy heart and a severe amount of sadness but after spending hours on this site before the procedure I hope if nothing else I can offer my experience to help someone who has to go through a similar experience.

I don't mind sharing my story as the choice to terminate was possibly the most straightforward decision for the welfare of my little girl.

Through no apparent reason (that has so far been found) she had too much fluid on her brain. The amount was so severe she may not have even made it full term. We took the decision to terminate to spare her from a distressing and painful life full of severe psychical and mental complications.

The sadness and heartbreak that we will not be taking her home in December will be a lot harder to heal but we are certain we have done the right thing for her.

I took my first pill on the morning of the Friday. No real signs of discomfort. A little nausea but this was probably more related to the unfortunate situation.

I was scheduled in on the Sunday at 9 am. I used an NHS hospital who were all so helpful and brilliant given the circumstances of my admission. They allocated me two rooms and were fine with me wanting to remove the Moses baskets and cots that usually held a healthy child. I personally couldn't deal with staring at them as the medication did its job.

The midwife was so comforting. She took my lead in how I wanted to deal with pain relief and understood my reasoning to not want any pain as this was my first pregnancy and I didn't want the first time I experienced childbirth to be under the circumstances we found ourselves in.

I had my blood pressure and temperature done as well as a little admin.

She inserted the first dose of tablets around 9.30. They are small but as they have to be inserted into the cervix the feeling isn't entirely comfortable but is bearable.

I had no bleeding or pain for the first three hours. An anaesthetic specialist came to speak to me about an epidural which I had requested for the birth itself to help eliminate the feeling of delivery although I had been offered diamorphine too to help previous to this for the pain.

Around 12.30 the second course was inserted and was a little more uncomfortable. Around 2 pm I started to feel everything moving down in my pelvis, again not really a huge amount of pain, sort of mild period twinges, a pulsing almost in the pit of my stomach. Not painful. I did get quite cold/shivery around this time too.

I was told if I felt a strong feeling of heaviness and the urge to empty my bowels I should call the midwife in case it was the baby wanting to be delivered. As I am a type 1 diabetic I was closely monitored.

Around 3 the pain had got uncomfortable enough to request the diamorphine which was an experience. I asked if we should be thinking about the epidural at this point as I was scared of delivering with a lot of sensation. Less the pain side and more the emotional part of giving birth to a child I was not taking home.

The diamorphine started wearing off after a few hours. I tried to force some dinner down and was given paracetamol and codeine to relieve the pain which had started to become full cramps that came in waves. Painful but not unbearable.

As I had had three meals by this point and hadn't expelled anything since the afternoon the day previous I vomited around 6 and was told when my next examination came at 7 they could give me some more diamorphine at the same time as I had my next lot of cervical tablets. I felt a little better pain-wise after this too and they gave me a hot water bottle in the meantime.

They examined me before the next dose of tablets and said it felt like my cervix was thinning out a little and things had moved down. I had my last lot (5th by now) of tablets inserted and as the ache in my stomach was very uncomfortable I had more diamorphine and some toast to keep going and stop my sugars from getting low overnight.

I was introduced to the night midwife who lacked the tact and bedside manner of the other midwives who had been brilliant. She seemed to mention she was more used to delivering "healthy babies" and didn't seem keen on me having the epidural for the pain if there was time before the delivery to have it inserted (the process of insertion to effect is around 45 minutes) and kept asking me why I wanted it saying "the lady on the women's health unit where this is usually carried out says ladies just have gas and air and paracetamol and are fine", I really hoped my delivery waited until the next shift.

Fortunately/unfortunately it did. I managed to get a few hours sleep with my partner in the relaxation room where there was a double bed. I cannot stress how comforting this was. It made the experience as gentle as possible.

As it had been so long now waiting for something to happen it was easy to forget why you were there almost. I held off asking for pain relief until 8 am. The hot water bottle and more paracetamol and codeine helped but weren't enough to take off the edge.

It was clear things were getting closer. I felt like I needed to pass urine a lot but nothing much came out. My sugars were dipping a little too. After consulting the doctor around 10 am they decided to not continue with the tablets but put me on an IV drip of hormones to speed up the delivery process.

It had been almost 24 hours that I had been there and emotionally was becoming quite distressing. They explained the epidural could be inserted before they started this hormone IV.

It was around 12 before anything got started with the epidural. It wasn't the most pleasant experience but I still had diamorphine and the anti-sickness drug in my system. Then as they inserted the local anaesthetic I didn't feel much apart from a few seconds of pressure. I had a few contractions about 5 minutes apart at this point too.

My contractions began to get worse and I was using gas and air to cope with them but they only lasted less than 30 seconds. I had diamorphine, gas and air and the epidural so it was a little trippy at times. I kept taking the gas and air to basically be as spaced out as I could as I didn't want to have this happening at all but also as I could still feel sensation in my pelvic region.

They got the anaesthetist back in who upped my dosage and it started working 10 minutes later.

The midwives told me they could see the baby and inserted a catheter to check that my bladder wasn't forcing things along quicker than they would have liked.

The worst part was the delivery. I had wanted a surgical procedure so I didn't have to experience child birth under these circumstances, this being my first baby and first pregnancy. I didn't want to go through it all without taking a child home.

It was as bad as I imagined. I felt my waters break. The splash of liquid hit my shin. I then had to push. I kept inhaling the gas and air as my partner held my hand and said how proud he was of me which made me cry more to be praised under such tragic circumstances.

I just kept hoping I'd space out enough to not remember the sensation but I do writing this days later.

There was another splash against my leg and they told me she was here and they'd taken her away. As requested. I then had to wait a few minutes and push out the placenta which delivered quite easily.

The whole delivery took about 5 minutes probably but unfortunately, it's emotional scars will be carried a lot longer and maybe only rectified somewhat by a more positive outcome if the post-mortem shows we may be able to try again.

I kept my eyes shut for the whole thing whilst the midwife and my partner comforted me. I was asked if I named her and I told them I had and her name. It was around 2 pm that she passed. They left me and my partner to grieve and I kept on the gas and air until I passed out.

It was a few hours before I had to sign paperwork. Which they apologised for. It was quite painful to see her name there for the first time and have to write "mother" next to the box that said "relationship to child". A proud and bittersweet moment.

They took pictures to be filed whilst I rested and stayed in the 6 hour observation window. They also took her hand and footprints which I asked to be put in an envelope for me to take home and put in a memory book with her keepsakes when I was ready to look at them.

I was able to leave that night and sleep in my own bed. It's been almost 48 hours now and I am obviously a mix of emotions. I am scared if the post-mortem will show I have a genetic defect and cannot conceive without massive risks of history repeating. 6 weeks is a long time to wait to find out.

I am scared I've had an infection I haven't known about which caused it too. I know these are normal fears at this stage. Mostly I just feel sad. I don't know how I'm going to carry on as I was before without knowing this child is on the way. She was a shock in the first few months to even have her happening but she was never not loved.

I carried her and now my stomach is already looking flat. I feel empty on so many levels and as a fiercely independent person it's strange to feel so dependent on my partner now. I'm scared to go out where there may be children.

Social media is a minefield of pregnancy success stories given I am 28 and 'at that age'. But again, I am grieving and I know time is the only great healer and things will get better. Never healed but certainly better.

Both my partner and myself are quite heavily tattooed. We are thinking of getting butterfly tattooed for her as when we got the diagnosis of her condition this seemingly one butterfly keeps following us and stopping in our path or resting beside us.

We are not in any ways religious so do not normally believe in "signs" of any sort but have found the coincidence rather strange. I may get it tattooed on top of a Violet (her namesake flower) next to my memorial piece for my mother so she is always carried with me.

I am grieving but I am hopeful. I hope one day we tell her sibling about her story. Time will only tell.

I hope my account helps another having to deal with a later termination due to medical reasons.

You are strong and you will get through this, you will carry on.

You will always be a mother.

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