I had a medical abortion at 8.5 weeks.
I recently found out I was pregnant at around 4 or 5 weeks. My partner and I both knew that it was not possible for us to continue with the pregnancy. It is a heartbreaking, conflicting decision for anyone to make as well as one of the hardest.
I went to my GP who told me I was early enough to have a medical abortion and was then booked in for a consultation at the hospital. I had to wait just over two weeks for the appointment. This was difficult in itself as throughout those couple of weeks I started to notice changes in my body. With all the extra hormones, I started to feel huge maternal instincts which made me doubt the decision constantly. My first hospital appointment lasted around 50 minutes. They took samples of my blood and urine to do a full STI test and to determine blood type (in case of emergency.) I was also scanned which placed me at 7 and a half weeks of pregnancy. They don't show you a picture of the pregnancy and as much as I wanted to see it, I didn't ask. I felt that being scanned was traumatic enough.
I had another week's wait until my next appointment, by which point I was almost 8.5 weeks. I had to take one pill called mifepristone, which blocks the hormone that makes the lining of the womb suitable for the fertilised egg. I was sent home straight away and told only to contact them if I was sick within two hours. I was also warned that occasionally the first pill can bring on the miscarriage. I had no physical reactions to it at all. After this stage, I kind of broke down. I knew that after taking that first pill, there's no way back, no time left to change your mind.
The final appointment started at 8.30am. I was admitted to my room straight away and given a gown to wear. The nurse then inserted vaginal pessaries which are used to induce the miscarriage, as well as a couple of suppositories for pain relief and antibiotics. This was the easiest part of the day. I was told to stay in bed for half an hour to let the pills settle in and to drink as much water as I could. They explained that I could be waiting 0-4 hours for any effect as it differs with everyone. I was also told that I could experience period pain or much worse. Around 45 mins later, I could feel my stomach tighten. This quickly moved onto period pain and then what felt like proper contractions. The pain was excruciating. I paced round the room, sat crunched up in the chair, got my partner to try and rub my back. Whatever I did, I felt like nothing could relieve it. I was completely doubled over. During this time, I tried to go the toilet a few times. Each time I went, I had to do it in a bedpan which the nurse would remove to be checked. I was also sick a couple of times. Because the pain was so bad, I was offered gas and air which I declined from feeling too queasy. I was given some more pain relief which I don't think had any effect.
Around three and a half hours into it, the pain died down to the point where I could actually sit in bed. I felt exhausted. For the next hour I drank as much water as I could (it really helps) and tried to go to the bathroom every 20 minutes or so. Each time I went, I pushed blood out in small amounts. By about the fifth time I did this, I felt something different. It felt like a large piece of tissue which I forced out along with some blood. I knew what this was and did not look in the bedpan. I would advise anyone in this position to do the same. The nurse came and collected the pan. She said I'd passed the fetus completely. I was told to rest in bed for half an hour after which time they did one more bedpan check. I was told I'd passed everything and that I could go home. I was to expect bleeding for up to two weeks after.
I have tried to give as factual an account as I could. I’ve tried not to miss out any details. I can honestly say that it was the worst day of my life and I would not wish for anyone to go through this. I refuse to say I regret this decision because it's done now and I can do nothing to change it. I don't think it's ever possible to be emotionally prepared for this, however practical you think you are. I know in my head, it was the right thing to do but I'm still devastated.
The most important thing is the people that helped me through this. My boyfriend was with me and supported me all the way through this and I love him so much for that. The only other person that knew was my sister. I told her in confidence and she kept it that way and any time I needed to talk about it I could rely on her to just listen to me. One thing I'd like to mention, which I did not come across in many accounts. The entire nursing staff who checked on me continuously throughout six hours, who took away my urine, blood and puke and were there for anything I needed, have my complete and utter respect. They were brilliant and as much as my experience was awful, they did everything they could to make it as simple and as comfortable for me as possible. They deserve so much credit for the job they do every day.
Emotionally, I don't really know how to describe my feelings. Fragile. As it happened so recently, I think I'm slightly in shock. I know that this will take a long time to get over and I will never forget. All I feel that I can do just now is to try and help people in similar situations by sharing my experience. I hope this helps someone.
Editor’s note: Thanks for sharing your experience with us…It is very important to be fully informed about what you can expect when having a medical termination. This does help to allay fear. It sounds like you received the information and support you needed in order to go through with this physical procedure. However, it seems that underneath your preoccupation with what happened to you, you are aware of feelings that struggle with the meaning of the experience. For instance, you say that it was a heartbreaking, conflicting decision, and that you’re devastated, and fragile. Perhaps you are trying not to go there at the moment, given the physical experience you have just endured.
For many women, the pressure of circumstances dictating that they should not pursue the pregnancy is very strong yet somehow it doesn’t answer, solve or diminish the heart’s pain that fully understands the meaning of an abortion at a subconscious level. That pain doesn’t come from our logical mind, but from our heart, where our conscience, beliefs and instinct lie. It may be that, despite the benefits of not being pregnant, you find yourself having to acknowledge those deeper uncertain feelings which are evident in your story. If that is ever the case, please do get in touch with your nearest centre for some post-abortion support.