I’ve never been pregnant before and assumed, at 39, it’d be hard to do so
I’m 39 years old and had a medical abortion at 5 weeks and 4 days a few days ago. I’ve never been pregnant before. I sort of assumed at 39 it’d be really hard to get pregnant. It wasn’t a late period that alerted me to the fact I might be pregnant but my enormous, tingling breasts.
I took a pregnancy test to put my mind at rest as I had a very busy week at work lined up and didn’t want the stress of thinking I was pregnant to affect me. I was stunned to see the ‘positive’ result and did two more to check it wasn’t just a mistake.
At less than 4 weeks I had to wait for another 2
I immediately phoned the abortion clinic and booked in for the earliest possible date. I was less than 4 weeks pregnant at that point so had to wait another 2 weeks before I could be seen.
I was incredibly practical about the whole thing. This was not something I wanted to have happen to my body or my life. I also hated the immediate effects of pregnancy on my body: the fatigue, the sore breasts, the insatiable appetite.
The waiting until the appointment was the hardest thing. I felt in limbo land. At the appointment itself, I had a very brief chat with a counsellor who didn’t question or challenge my decision to end the pregnancy.
I was almost disappointed my egg had failed
I then had a vaginal ultrasound scan. The nurse couldn’t see much on the scan. She could see a yolk sac that showed a pregnancy had started (and explained the HCG levels and +ve pregnancy test) but interestingly it looked like it had started to collapse. She actually thought I could have been about to miscarry anyway.
This makes a lot of sense to me as at 39 it might still be possible to conceive, the viability of my fertilised eggs are simply not as strong as younger eggs. Weirdly, I felt almost disappointed that my egg had 'failed' although ultimately it confirmed my decision to end the pregnancy was the right one.
Medical abortion pill side-effects
I took the first part of the medical abortion orally at the clinic that day, after taking an anti-sickness pill. After discussing the pros and cons of taking the second stage of pills on the same day of waiting for 24 hours, I decided to wait. The side effects (nausea, diarrhoea) are reduced and the effectiveness increased if you leave a gap.
I took a large dose of antibiotics that evening, which almost immediately caused nausea and strong abdominal pain. I was concerned I had either got food poisoning or that the second stage of abortion had started, but reading the leaflet showed that these are common side effects of this powerful dose of antibiotics. This was definitely the ‘worst’ bit of the entire process.
Bleeding started 30 hrs after taking the first pill
I had a busy day at work the following day so decided to take the second pills in the evening. I had a slight headache, slight nausea and slight cramps that day. At 5 pm, about 30 hours after I’d taken the first pill, I started bleeding.
I phoned up the clinic who advised me to still take the second part of the abortion pills as planned.
I finished work at 9 pm having soaked through a couple of sanitary towels and inserted the four tablets vaginally. After an hour or so, the cramps became a little stronger and I also felt a very slight stinging pain around my cervix.
I went to the toilet and felt some large blood clots drop out. This happened a couple of times in the night. The pain was extremely manageable (I took two codeine tablets) and I had a mostly undisturbed night’s sleep.
I'm grateful abortion is easily accessible here
The overall feeling I have now is one of freedom and relief. Almost as soon as I started bleeding, I felt my old self returning and that my body was mine again. I feel so grateful to be a woman in a country where abortion is free, safe and easily accessible.