A tiny, perfectly-formed little baby was there when I looked down.
I had my medical abortion just over a week ago. I found out I was pregnant at about 7 weeks and was in complete shock, had no-one I could really tell except my boyfriend. We arranged to contact the abortion clinic through my GP and I went for my first scan, where the doctor said I was 8 weeks and 2 days. After this I went to speak to another doctor who knew I was very, very unsure of what to do and wouldn't agree to let me abort unless I was.
They sent me for counselling and I returned the next week, still no surer of the decision. I still don't know how you're supposed to decide something like that. All people ever kept saying was, 'it's your decision, nobody can make it for you', and I just kept wishing somebody would. I told the doctor I thought I should abort but he knew I still wasn't sure at all - I don't think you can ever be 100% sure, can you, because you don't want to do it, you don't get pregnant thinking, 'it's ok, I can just abort it'. It's a last resort, the lesser of two evils. Anyway, he sent me away again to think about it some more, and of course time was really running out by now. The later it gets, the harder it is.
I came back yet again the next week and decided that I had to have the abortion because there was no way I could look after the baby. It was arranged for me to take a tablet. I thought to myself, 'if I take the first tablet and I'm sick, it's a sign I should keep it. If it stays down, it's meant to be'. I took the tablet and went to sit in the hospital foyer where you have to wait for an hour in case it makes you sick. I felt awful and was crying my eyes out. All I kept seeing were people taking their newborn babies home. I did bring the tablet back, and went home. The nurse gave me a few more days to think about it and I decided to take it again, and I really wish I hadn't.
This time the tablet didn't come back so I went home. There were no cramps, no bleeding by the time I came back for the next stage, and by then I was 11 weeks and 5 days. In hospital I had 4 pessaries inserted to start the contractions. Nothing happened for hours, and then the cramps started. They'd told me to expect period-like pains, and I have really painful periods, but this surpassed even them. It was excruciating. If that's what labour feels like, I don't understand how some women can go through it for days at a time without passing out completely. They kept on at me to walk around to get things going but I was in so much pain I couldn't stand, shuffling along the floor in a ball was the best I could manage. Eventually they had to give me morphine which helped a lot. There was still nothing happening so I took another tablet, which started the cramping again. After a while my waters broke, and bleeding followed a few hours later. They wanted me to let everything go into a bedpan over the toilet but to get to the toilet I had to walk past the reception and through a busy ward and it was so undignified, so I just tried to stay in my room and do everything there.
I'd been in the hospital about 8 hours when I felt a sudden urge to push. I got over my bedpan and expected to pass another clot, when suddenly the baby came. A tiny, perfectly-formed little baby was there when I looked down. In a way I feel better that I got to see and hold it before it went, but in another way I'm absolutely devastated that I ended that perfect little baby's life. It had a contented smile on its face and looked so at peace, and I'm so upset that I forced it from a place it was safe, and I should have been keeping it safe, and didn't. I held it in tissue, examining every feature and memorising its face, before the nurse came to take it away for examination. I spent a few more hours at the hospital, waiting to pass the placenta, which never came. I was bleeding really heavily and they wanted me to stay overnight but I needed to get home so I went. I had 4 days of very heavy bleeding before I passed the placenta. I had no idea what it was, it was so much bigger than the baby, no wonder I had still felt pregnant.
The loss of that made me feel so empty and it really hit me that I wasn't pregnant any more and everything was gone. Since then I've been a wreck. I completely regret the abortion and wish I still had the baby. Even though I know the baby wouldn't have had the best life with me, I can't forgive myself for not giving it a chance. I keep remembering how perfectly formed it was, and so tiny, and knowing I failed to protect it when it needed me most.
Editor’s note: Thank you for telling us your story…it’s true that many women who are ambivalent (in two minds) about abortion can struggle with the experience afterwards. You are no exception to that. It was good that your doctor recognised your ambivalence and gave you time to consider it thoroughly, even though you felt the decision was harder. Not only have you had to go through a physically difficult experience, but you are also facing the emotional difficulties – loss, sadness, guilt - that often come with choosing to end a pregnancy. Your head was telling you one thing – that you couldn’t look after a baby in your circumstances - and your heart was telling you another – that you actually wanted to nurture and protect your baby regardless of the circumstances. From my experience, no one is ever 100% sure but many deny the part of themselves that is positive about the pregnancy. They have the illusion of being sure, but then feel pain in their hearts later. Although it’s so soon after your abortion, it would help you to make contact with your nearest centre, ring the helpline or use Online Advisor to talk with someone about how you feel.
This story was sent in on 01/08/2008
When my son was only ten weeks old, I discovered I was pregnant again...