In January 2009, I realised I was pregnant - I am 22 and married.
My GP was amazing and supported me really well. She phoned the hospital and booked me in. I was given an internal ultrasound at the hospital - this may happen to you if your pregnancy is quite early on like mine was - I was about 5 weeks gone. The internal ultrasound involves inserting a long thin plastic camera vaginally. The doctor told me she could hear the heartbeat, which was difficult to hear.
I remember laying there staring up at the ceiling, tears rolling down my cheeks, very still and imagining I was somewhere else. For a medical termination, you take a pill to release hormones which make the foetus separate from the womb. This tablet was given to me in a public waiting room. I was in tears and shaking. They then tried to take my blood in this waiting room, which I absolutely refused to do, so they took me to a private side room. 48hrs later, I returned to have the foetus removed. I was given tablets to insert myself which would relax and open my cervix. I was told I would feel pain which could be mild / moderate / heavy, and if it got too much to call them, and they would medicate me. Around two hours later, I was in terrible pain, and was having very fast and heavy contractions. They gave me 1000mg of paracetamol and 5mg of codeine - both of which had no effect.
Around thirty minutes after taking these drugs, I was having VERY heavy vomiting and diarrhoea and my husband called them to assist. Again they gave me 5mg of codeine - giving absolutely no relief. It was pathetic. My husband had to clean me up. The bleeding was manageable for me. It wasn't too heavy - around one pad an hour. It was the pain that got to me. I was then left for another thirty minutes in agony when a kind nurse came in and said they would give me pethadine - but needed to give me a neuromuscular jab for this.
Twenty minutes later the Sister came in and said, "You won't be having any pethadine, I don't want you running round my wards going doo-lally. You can have gas and air instead". She said this to a young woman who was shivering, crying, bent over double, unable to lift her head and unable to speak. This gas and air did not arrive for another THREE hours, by which point I had emptied my foetus into a bedpan in the toilet, as instructed. It was too little too late, I had already seen myself through it with no help from them. I was so exhausted; I had cried myself to sleep. I am not a weak-willed or quiet person, I have to point out. I will speak out if I feel the need to complain. But my strength and voice was crippled by pain - it was dreadful. I was prepared for the termination but not being left to deal with the pain by myself.
From start to finish, the day lasted about eleven hours. I got there at 10am and was allowed home at 9pm. I passed my placenta at 8pm but had to wait an hour before I could go home. My husband called and called and called for them to help, begging them to relieve me of the pain, but they always said they were too busy. I will never forget what happened, and just writing it down now fills my eyes. It breaks my heart that other women go through this silently, like me. I would say push to have a surgical abortion. At least then you are put to sleep and don't have to go through all that. I have been left deeply affected by what happened - it has been tough to deal with life moving on. I am always left wondering what that foetus could have been. But I know I made the right choice - I just wish my choice had been dealt with more sensitivity, care, and support from the NHS.
Editor’s note: Thanks for telling us your story…it appears that women have vastly different experiences at hospitals and clinics. If you feel that your situation warrants making a complaint, you should enquire about their complaints procedure.
You’ve obviously had a difficult physical experience but also one that is not unaffected by emotional issues. Logically, you made a choice that suited your circumstances, but as with many women, the deeper heart thoughts of conscience, instinct and beliefs can be present and make themselves known. The fact that you are wondering what the foetus might have been, despite the fact that you say it was the right choice, is evidence of this. If you are experiencing emotional difficulties following your abortion, related to the meaning of it as well as the physical procedure, you can contact your nearest centre for some support.