Retained products of conception complicated my recovery from medical abortion

I had an abortion on the 18th January and nothing could have prepared me for the aftermath.

I'm 21 years old with an 18-month-old son already, me and my husband got married in Barbados in October 2009. I never imagined I was pregnant as I was always so careful after the birth of our son (falling pregnant when I was 2 weeks off my 19th birthday) so I'd already been through such a lot at a young age.

However, me and my husband love our son more than anything, but I knew I couldn't do it again. As soon as I had done the test and it had come back positive, I ran downstairs crying and rang the doctors for an appointment to start proceedings for an abortion. I felt very clear in my mind what I wanted to do.

The medical abortion

My 2nd visit to the hospital was when I swallowed the first tablet. I'd never actually realised the importance of this step. I then went back 2 days later when the nurse inserted the 4 pessaries.

I was very nervous and I asked how severe the pain would be to which she replied that everyone is different, and it would be severe period pains but nothing like labour to my relief. I went to sit in a recliner for an hour in order for the tablets to absorb, then we started walking around the hospital to get things going.

As I came back to the chair I went very dizzy and fainted. When I came round I was sick twice and I felt awful but I was told it was due to the medication.

The other girls had passed their babies

By 2 pm all the other girls on the ward had passed their babies (in the bedpans when you go to the toilet) however I hadn't really had any bleeding, so the nurse gave me a further tablet to swallow and told me that when I went to the toilet to push. The thought of this horrified me.

By 3 pm the nurse reviewed my case and booked me in for a scan the following week and I was told I may go on to pass the baby at home, but there was a chance I could have passed it already as at my gestation I probably wouldn't know I'd even passed it.

I went home feeling deflated. I thought at this point I'd be relieved it was all over but it wasn't.

I saw a perfectly formed foetus

I went home and had my first meal of the day and went to bed. I woke up at midnight being sick all over my bedroom floor. I felt something gush out of me but as I was being sick so much there was nothing I could do.

When I was able I went to the toilet and saw a perfectly formed foetus about 2 inches long with a very recognisable head and belly.

I cried for hours but then relief kicked in that it was over. I went for the scan the week after hopeful until they told me I had a lot of retained pregnancy (bits of the baby still in my womb) and that's why I was still bleeding very heavily.

I was sent to another department as I cried, where I was told that in 2 weeks time I was to do a pregnancy test and see what the results were. Leaving the hospital again I felt like I did that day I'd had the medical termination.

All the other girls left the hospital that day to grieve, move on, whereas it's still hanging over my head.

I've done my pregnancy test and it has come back negative. I've passed a lot of huge clots in the meantime.

6 weeks later

It's now March 2nd and I'm still bleeding from the termination. I was so emotional from finding out I was pregnant and so scared about the actual procedure that I never thought about the aftermath.

Every time I look at my son a pang of guilt overpowers me that I've killed his brother or sister, but what I'm trying to focus on is that we're not ready to have a second child as we're still young ourselves and for financial reasons, having got a mortgage before the birth of our son and getting married.

Counselling at CareConfidential

I rang CareConfidential just yesterday and I'm booked in for a little counselling next week. I will be happy when I get to a place where I can think about the termination and not cry. When I am there I'll be happy again.

I wanted to tell my story because if you're like me and extremely nervous then you will never think about the “afterwards”.

Don't struggle in silence, ask for help.

This story was sent in on 02/03/2010

Editor's comment

You have had a very difficult experience and I'm afraid this is one of the risks of medical abortion when the procedure does not happen completely and leaves some retained products.

The decision is often made because of practical reasons, but it is often much harder to come to terms with the emotional and psychological effects especially when you have seen what you passed.

I am very glad that you have been able to contact an advisor at CareConfidential and get some help and support. It may be too soon at the moment to work through the post-abortion programme, but you will be able to talk through your thoughts and feelings, and hopefully come to terms with what has happened to you.

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