I had a medical abortion at 9 weeks after my husband's vasectomy failed
My husband's vasectomy failed
I had a medical abortion at 9 weeks after my husband's vasectomy failed. I'm 39 and we have a 3 and 5 year old, and I had read so many frightening stories that I felt it was my duty to toss mine in; it's a positive one that I hope will help settle the nerves of other anxious women out there.
I had been a month into eating disorder recovery, so at first I was writing off the exhaustion and nausea after eating as side effects of that. Then the nausea became constant from when I woke up to when I fell asleep, making it hard to eat and harder to drink, and the exhaustion made it so I could barely care for our kiddos. I quickly became malnourished and dehydrated.
I was 7 weeks pregnant
I eventually went to the doctor's office to see if I had a complication from the recovery, and long story short we discovered I was 7 weeks pregnant. My husband and I were dumbstruck, and sure enough after they tested him he was fully fertile again two and a half years after having a "successful" surgery.
It seemed cruel and unfair
Our knee jerk reactions were that we couldn't have another baby (which is why he had the surgery in the first place...) but of course all the raging hormones were fighting this, and we spent many days agonizing over it. I was furious that we were even having to face this decision; it seemed cruel and unfair. But after lots of tears and talking through everything, the decision was made to seek a medical abortion.
My midwife who had delivered our youngest was incredibly understanding and gave us references where terminations could be done. Unfortunately we live in an area where it seems like livestock have access to better reproductive care than women, so there wasn't anywhere local to go.
Planned Parenthood was a 5-hour drive
The nearest Planned Parenthood two hours away couldn't see me for three weeks which would be too late for the medical procedure. I didn't want to have a surgical abortion done because I wanted to be sure we were able to keep and bury the remains; I felt I needed to treat this with as much dignity as possible to be able to get through it (and understand that is not meant in a judgy way; some don't want or require that, it was just my personal need).
The next closest Planned Parenthood that could see me was 5 hours drive away, so I made an appointment that would have me there at 9 weeks. Everyone I talked to was very kind and informative, they even told me I could get my follow up done with my local midwife so I didn't have to spend another day driving down there and back.
At the clinic, the first pill...
When I went to take the first pill (mifepristone), my husband stayed home with the kids and a good friend drove me there as she had gone through something similar. I felt that it would just be too raw and emotional if he had come with me.
There was an ultrasound, blood work and a finger prick for iron (I was slightly anemic), and some questions to make sure I wasn't being forced into termination. There was a fair bit of waiting in between all of these, but it was busy there. All in all I had been there for about an hour and a half when I got called back to take the pill.
I had been given an 8mg Zofran. The doctor was a very gentle, empathetic woman who patiently answered all of my questions (no it wouldn't suffer or feel pain) and set my mind at ease. She gave me a juice box and had me swallow the mifepristone. Then she put the second round of pills, 4 misoprostol, in a bag along with calling in a prescription for Zofran (which I had been taking already for the extreme morning sickness) and instructed me to take them 24-48 hours later.
I was provided with a thick packet of information about what order to do things, what to expect, what constituted an emergency, etc. The doctor asked if I'd like anything for pain management and I said I would just in case, so she additionally wrote a prescription for hydrocodone. I accepted the help gladly, although I didn't end up using it.
Mifepristone: aches and discomfort
A few hours into the drive back I felt some strange sensations, not exactly cramps but aches and discomfort; no bad nausea or spotting. By the time we arrived home, I was aware that there wasn't anything alive in there anymore and it was upsetting. My husband was very sweet and supportive and did his best to keep my mind off of that feeling.
I had been reading as many stories as I could on medical abortions, especially the ones at 9 weeks, and by the time the next day rolled around I had worked myself up into a state of terror. It seemed they all involved excruciating, labor-like pain of one sort or another. I had given unmedicated birth twice before and I was not looking forward to going through that again with nothing to show for it this time.
The time finally came to put the last four pills in my mouth. I did it 24 hours after the first pill because my husband had taken that day off which gave me that day and the next to get through it and recover before he had to go back to work.
This is what happened and when...
I wrote down what happened and when, so I will list them for you:
- 12:00 pm: took 800mg Ibuprofen (Advil) + 8mg Zofran, ate plain baked potato with salt for lunch + 9oz electrolyte water, which takes me about half an hour to sip through
- 12:45 pm: put 4 Misoprostol tablets in between my cheeks and gums (they have a literal chalk taste that is unpleasant). My husband puts on The Great British Baking Show, it's my "happy place" entertainment. I had worked myself up into such a panic that I was shaking, anticipating the horrors to come, so this helped ease that a bit.
- 1:00 pm: mild cramps and lower back ache (started using electric heat pad with moist heat on my back - I highly recommend this. Later added small hot pack to my front)
- 1:15 pm: swallow what's left of the tablets, which is grainy and bitter but manageable. I then sip on another 9 oz of electrolyte water.
- 1:48 pm: couple of sharp lightning bolt cramps that were startling just because they were sudden, but not terrible; about 5/10.
- 2:00 pm: more mild but persistent abdominal cramps, mild nausea. I had bigger pulling cramps when I got up to pee, about 4/10, but no blood or clots yet.
- 2:00-3:40 pm: all throughout this time I had very slowly increasing backache and abdominal cramps. They never got painful, it was just persistent dull aching, 3-4/10.
- 3:40 pm: I went to lay down in bed and felt like fluid was coming out. My husband helped me to the toilet and there were two tiny, raisin-sized clots on the pad. I sat down and there was a small amount of blood and liquid, then to my shock a tiny red clot followed by the fetus.
It was very small and I caught sight of it just enough to know what it was. I called my husband back in and he was able to save it for burial. I could tell it was hard for him to look at and handle it. I showered off and cried and told it how sorry I was. Then I went back to bed with the heat pad on my back. At no point had I experienced anything sustained over a 4/10, no pain; I've had periods that were worse.
- 5:15 pm: I ate some grapes, saltine crackers, and bread which was more than I'd had in weeks.
- 5:35 pm: I took another 8mg Zofran as the food made gave me nausea
- 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm: I experienced a fair amount of bleeding and passed quite a few clots that started out golf-ball sized and diminished from there.
A day after passing the pregnancy
It's the day after I passed the pregnancy, and I'm down to normal period-like bleeding with just occasional tiny clots and I'm slowly getting my appetite back. I go in for a follow up in two weeks to make sure everything is clear, but physically I feel fine if a little drained.
Working through the emotions
I'm working through the emotional part now, and I feel regret but I know that we did what we needed to in order to preserve the family that we have now; if we had gone through with the pregnancy it would have caused suffering to everyone in the long run.
There's also still anger that the situation happened at all. My husband is going to have his surgery redone, but I was outraged to hear that it's a 6 month wait... I felt like they owed us a speedier correction. I will also be getting a tubal ligation because I don't trust vasectomy anymore; I cannot go through a fiasco like this a second time.
Don't back yourself into a corner
My advice to anyone having to make this decision is be kind to yourself - YOU ARE A PERSON TOO, you deserve to do what's best for you. And don't get yourself worked up too much by what you read.
Everyone's body reacts differently, and this was just my story. But don't back yourself into a corner where you convince yourself that you're going to experience the absolute worst of everything; that does no good.
Make sure to ask the staff all the questions you have, get all of the information you can, arm yourself with knowledge. You will get through it.