A traumatic abortion due to the lack of information about what to expect
I wanted to share my experience of medical abortion at 6½ weeks because I feel like I would have benefitted from this information while I was going through it myself (some of the stories of other women’s experiences are very daunting and scary!!).
Same-day Marie Stopes abortion
I went into the clinic last Saturday for the medical abortion and, as I travelled from Northern Ireland, received all the pills in one go.
It is now the following Wednesday. After finally deciding that an abortion was the best option for me and my partner (and after many tears and going back and forth with the idea of going through with an abortion) I rang Marie Stopes to arrange an appointment.
I’m from Northern Ireland so not only did I have to deal with the emotions that come with having an abortion, I had to drag myself overseas to do it!! Everyone I spoke to on the phone was lovely and my appointment was arranged for a week later.
On arrival at Marie Stopes...
On arrival at the clinic, I was greeted by 2 lovely receptionists who instantly put me at ease. I was somewhat ashamed that I was having an abortion and expected staff to look down on me for having one (this could be due to living in Northern Ireland my whole life where a lot of people do not agree with abortion).
Medical history & scan
I was seen within 30-45 minutes for my first appointment which was to go through my medical history, make sure I still wanted to go through with it and the dreaded scan. Again, the nurse was lovely and very sympathetic.
The scan itself was done vaginally as I was so early into my pregnancy. This didn’t hurt at all, but I must admit I did have a little cry during it but I think this is a natural reaction as the whole situation was very overwhelming. I was sent back to the waiting room to wait until the doctor was ready to see me.
After another 30-45 minute wait, I was called in to see a friendly doctor. She didn’t go into much detail as to why I was having an abortion other than asking was I being forced into it. I appreciated this because by this point I knew it was the best option for me but I was still very sad that I had to do it, and any further probing about my decision could have emotionally tipped me over the edge!!
I was given the first pill to take orally and the second set of pills to insert vaginally (4 small pills you can put inside yourself). I was also given pain relief and I think I was given nausea tablets, although the doctor didn’t really explain the other tablets I was given, this is just me assuming!
I was also given an Anti D injection into my bum as my blood type is negative. Then, I was sent on home - or in my case to the hotel!
This is where my experience may help you...
Now, this is where I think my experience may help others as I haven’t found a story on this site that is even slightly the same as mine in regards to what happened over the next few days!
I returned to the hotel ASAP, fully expecting the most horrific pain to begin within hours of being in the clinic and the biggest amount of blood I have ever seen in my life to start flowing out of me. This didn’t happen!
Small period-like cramps
I got to the hotel at around 10 am and by 2 pm I was having small period like cramps and constantly felt like I needed to poo. This came in waves throughout the day with no sign of blood. The pain was in no way unbearable, it just felt like a heavy period and a constant urge to poo, kind of similar to constipation.
Very light bleeding
Finally at around 8 pm that night I started to bleed very very lightly and I thought to myself that this must be it starting! I took some ibuprofen and went to bed.
Fast forward to the next morning (Sunday) and I woke up with no pain, and very little blood. I had slept the whole way through the night, bar my partner waking me up at 12 pm to give me more ibuprofen.
No one wishes pain on themselves, but the fact that I hadn’t experienced excruciating pain throughout the night or a heavy bleed left me panicked!
I didn't think I'd passed the pregnancy
I rang the helpline and explained that I was flying home in a few hours and I didn't think the pregnancy had passed yet. She explained that this can take up to 48 hours to happen and to make sure I was padded up for the flight back home.
Fast forward again to that night (Sunday night). I was home and feeling very frustrated and emotional. I had no pain all day and just a light bleed similar to what you would get during the last few days of your period. The blood had thickened up and was more like brown slime, but still no clots!
I was convinced the abortion hadn't worked
I had a few twinges Sunday night and was hopeful this meant that it was finally happening. But this wasn’t the case. Again I slept through the night and woke up Monday morning in an absolute state! I convinced myself it hadn’t worked and I would have to fly back to England to go through it all again. As if one time isn’t traumatic enough!!
When I was at the clinic the doctor never gave me any information on what to expect during the process, so I was relying on sites like this one and reading other people’s experiences to give me some insight.
Most people’s stories of a medical abortion follow a similar pattern that the pregnancy is passed pretty quickly (same day) after finishing the last of the pills at the clinic. So you can imagine my turmoil that this hadn’t happened 48 hours in.
At around 8 am on Monday morning I began to get period like cramps, they became more severe so I sat on the toilet hoping this was it happening!
The pain was sore, but very manageable and not like the type of pain described in some of the stories I previously read. This pain lasted for about an hour and then went away pretty quickly. During this, I did not pass any big clots or feel the pregnancy passing (or hear the ‘plop’ on the toilet that some people described).
Possible surgical abortion
By this stage, I was crying so much out of pure frustration I could barely speak.
I rang the helpline again and the nurse explained that I would need to have a scan to check what was going on. As abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland she explained I would have to go back to Manchester for this scan, and a possible surgical abortion if the pregnancy hadn’t passed. I was devastated!
I didn’t make a further appointment with the clinic there and then as I needed to plan what dates would be best to return with my partner.
Karma for deciding an abortion
Never mind the additional costs of having to get more flights and a hotel, and having to book more time off work, the emotional trauma was awful. I felt so down and it almost felt like karma for deciding to have an abortion!
By midday, I picked myself up and started trying to arrange what I would do from there.
I lied about a miscarriage
I decided to ring the maternity ward near my home in Northern Ireland and explain I was having a suspected miscarriage and the pain and bleeding hadn’t stopped for 4 days, so I was worried it was an incomplete miscarriage.
I know this is awful that I lied about a miscarriage and I apologise to anyone who has gone through a miscarriage, but I was desperate and I don’t think they would have offered to give me a scan if I had told the truth and said it was a suspected incomplete abortion.
They booked me in for the following morning (Tuesday) for a scan. The instant relief was indescribable knowing I could at least get a scan at home, even if I had to go back to Manchester for further treatment (in Northern Ireland, you will only be offered an abortion if the pregnancy is harmful to you - so if the abortion had completely failed and there was still a heartbeat they wouldn’t offer an abortion and would take a ‘wait and see what happens approach’).
On Tuesday morning I went to the maternity ward and got an internal scan. The lady explained that there was no sign of pregnancy in my womb and, although the pregnancy test I did for her in the surgery was positive, it was very weak. She confirmed I had a miscarriage.
It was a relief to hear her say that knowing I wouldn’t have to get a surgical abortion but still very sad and emotional! Again, I’m not proud of myself for lying but the thought of going the whole way back to England for a scan and possible surgical was mentally tipping me over the edge!
My abortion experience didn't follow the normal pattern
It is now Tuesday afternoon and I am still having period cramps and still bleeding but this has never got any heavier than a light period over the last 4 days.
I guess the reason I was so keen to share this is because my experience did not follow the normal pattern of most women’s stories I read. I did not get any horrific pain that I couldn’t cope with and I did not get a heavy bleed. Also, most women mentioned how the pain and bleeding began between 1-4 hours after leaving the clinic. This didn’t happen for me and the pain has come and gone at random times over the last few days.
When I was speaking to the nurse when I rang the helpline she explained that the heavy bleed could come anytime within the 2 week period after having the abortion, or it may never come at all!
Every abortion experience is different
Moral of the story - every woman is different and this experience is different for everyone.
Some women experience a lot of pain, some women don’t. Some women bleed a lot, some don’t. And the big one for me that I wish I had of known before going into panic mode is that you might not get this overwhelming pain 1-4 hours after being at the clinic followed by an unnatural amount of blood, and this doesn’t mean it hasn’t worked (which is what I thought). I feel like mine is happening slowly, over days rather than over a few intense hours.
Traumatic due to the lack of information
I hope people find some comfort in my story. Although I found the whole experience very traumatic, this was only due to the lack of information the doctor provided to me on what to expect which lead me to read other women’s stories and questioning why I wasn’t going through the same thing.
Also, being from Northern Ireland did not help make my experience any easier as I’m sure a lot of women reading this would not find it as complicated to get a scan if you are worried the abortion was incomplete or failed.
Sorry for the length but I hope this helps someone in the future.
Emily sent this story in on 20/03/2019