Living in a large urban area in the USA I now realize how fortunate I was to have abortion options
This is my experience of a surgical abortion under general anesthesia at 5 weeks pregnant. I live in a large urban area in the USA and I now realize how fortunate I was to have options and to have been treated with complete respect the whole way through the process.
I found out I was pregnant very early on. I track my period and I’m very regular, so on the first day late, I took 2 pregnancy tests at home and indeed they were positive. Tried another brand of test the next day and it was also positive. I knew with absolute certainty that I did not want to continue the pregnancy. The reasons for this, as well as the emotions and self-reflection this accident has brought up for me, could fill another long post.
I made an appointment for the following day at an ob/gyn clinic in the city that also does abortions. What I learned quickly was: at any large clinic, appointment times don’t mean anything. Get there as early as possible because you are seen in the order you show up. And plan to be there for up to 4 hours if it’s a busy location.
My first visit to the clinic confirmed the pregnancy by way of blood and urine tests, but it was too early to see anything on ultrasound and so I had to wait a week and come back.
All 3 options for abortion cost the same
A week later exactly, I went back to the clinic and the ultrasound quickly confirmed the pregnancy at 5 weeks although it was still "very small". At this point I was given the option of medical (pill) abortion; surgical abortion with local anesthesia, or surgical with general anesthesia. Interestingly, all these options cost exactly the same amount— about $450 all told.
Since I visited the clinic twice, I was able to get physician’s assistants’ opinions twice about which procedure to choose. (Note: these women were very kind and respectful and did not emphasize one option over the other until I directly asked their advice).
The assistants basically advised that surgical with general anesthesia is by far the most comfortable choice, and it’s more effective and safer than medical (pill) because it’s completed in the clinic under lots of supervision.
Surgical with local anesthesia was definitely de-emphasized as an option. The general anesthesia option is there, and it’s safe and affordable, so local anesthesia is only used at this clinic if a woman can’t "go under" for medical reasons.
Surgical abortion with general anesthesia
I wanted the pregnancy terminated as soon as possible, as fast as possible and as effectively as possible and thus I chose surgical with general anesthesia for the following morning.
I hadn’t had general anesthesia before and I was very nervous about the idea of "losing consciousness". Well let me tell you— it was actually quite pleasant and I am no longer afraid!
The anesthesia and procedure were the least bad parts
The anesthesia and the procedure itself were the LEAST bad parts of this whole experience. Let me repeat that: surgical abortion under general anesthesia is not a FRACTION as bad as all the worrying, stress and physical symptoms you are already going through with an unwanted pregnancy.
The waiting on the morning of the procedure was much worse than the procedure. Once in the OR, I was greeted warmly by the doctor, nurses, and anesthesiologist. They strapped me in place and then the anesthesia was administered. I believe my clinic uses propofol.
I took a few deep breaths with my eyes closed, noticed a certain smell in my nose (kind of like new car smell?) and then I only remember having some kind of very nice neutral dream about colors and shapes and waking in the recovery room (the "dream" probably didn’t happen until I was already "coming to" in recovery).
Waking up was absolutely fine and uneventful. I felt calm, comfortable and lazy. Nurses came to check on me and give me crackers and tea. The anesthesiologist said it looked like I just came back from the spa, LOL.
After a while, I was disconnected from the monitors and was given a maxi pad to put on in the restroom.
After that, I was transferred to a regular chair in the recovery area and was given a post-op prescription for antibiotics.
A little while later I was free to get dressed and go home with my escort.
I have no memory of the procedure itself and the cramping went from maybe a 6 when I first woke from anesthesia to a 2 within minutes. Had some spotting, nothing more than that. Felt very fatigued the rest of the day, but not ill nor in pain. I would strongly recommend this method of abortion if it is available to you.
*NOTE: the one thing that surprised me was how adamant the clinic was about having an escort home after general anesthesia. I found out this is a thing no matter what kind of surgery you’re having— if you get anesthesia they don’t like to discharge you alone. This can be sensitive at an abortion clinic where a lot of the patients don’t want to tell their friends or family about the procedure.
I was lucky enough to call on a good friend. But if the lack of an escort is the only thing keeping you from the procedure, talk to the clinic about it! They may be able to recommend a medical transport service or even a volunteer service that can help you check out after your procedure. Or maybe they will be willing to "overlook" your lack of escort. It’s really just a liability issue and you will be able to take a cab home afterward.