I was told my surgical abortion under local anaesthetic without sedation would be like having a smear

By anonymous on 10/03/2010
surgical abortion marie stopes

I had a surgical abortion 3 days ago. I found out I was pregnant after what, essentially, was a one night stand. I have been married for 10 years and have one child of 5 already. I met an old friend and we chatted online and by phone for a couple of weeks. He was unhappy in his marriage and so was I, we met up, both knew what we were doing and ended up sleeping together, it was nice and we remained friends.

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I knew I was pregnant before I took the test, I felt sick and dizzy, and was absolutely terrified. There was no way this was my husband's baby, we have not made love for months. I told the father, his immediate reaction was 'you are getting rid of it aren't you?'.

We talked and, of course, this was the only option for both of us. I went to the doctors and was referred to the Marie Stopes clinic.

Because I was so early on in my pregnancy I waited a week for the appointment. I felt completely alone. My 'friend' didn't contact me and I had nobody to turn to.

No option than to have the procedure without sedation

I opted for surgical abortion as I could not go through the medical one without my husband realising something was very wrong. As I was having to drive myself to and from the clinic 30 miles away I had no option than to undergo the procedure without sedation, but I was assured the pain would be bearable and it would be over very quickly.

Eventually, the day of the appointment arrived. I drove to the clinic in tears and was asked for an emergency contact number - I had to give the father's number as nobody else knew what was going on. He did contact me several times throughout the day to check I was ok, but part of me felt this was actually more to check I was going through with it.

I was taken through for a scan and I just broke down, the staff were fantastic and kept asking if I was sure of my decision. Of course, I knew I had no option, so I said yes.

After some more tests and filling in a few forms (still in tears) the patient liaison manager came to see me to check I was ok as all the staff were concerned about my state of mind. I was the only person in the clinic on my own and I was absolutely terrified. I assured her I was fine and she took me to the waiting room where I was told there was only one person in front of me so the wait would be short.

I became hysterical

I was led through to a tiny corridor and told to strip from the waist down and tie a sarong-style sheet around me, I had to put all of my belongings in a basket, put a sanitary towel in my knickers and take them with me.

I was taken through to the theatre and told to put my knickers under the pillow and lay down on the trolley. I was in such a state at this point that I thought I was going to be sick. The nurse told me to put my legs in the stirrups and I became hysterical and said I could not go through with it - I sat up again and was taken back to get dressed.

The patient liaison manager came back to see me and I ended up sobbing my heart out to her, saying I couldn't keep the baby and telling her the whole story, she was amazing, I did not feel judged at all and she talked me through all of the options.

I decided that I had to go through with it and she arranged for me to try again. I was still a complete mess but this time I managed to get my feet into the stirrups and the nurse assured me she would not leave me.

The pain was unbelievable

The surgeon put a local anaesthetic round my cervix, the pain was unbelievable, then told me to relax and it would be just like having a smear test. I can't describe the pain of the procedure but I felt as though my insides were being ripped out of me and I screamed for the whole time.

I was clammy and threw up several times, the surgeon stopped three times to allow me to calm down and then carried on, just when I thought it was all over they had to do one more sweep to check me over. At this point, I just wanted to die.

I was taken to a recovery room and given a cup of coffee and some biscuits, neither of which I could face. I was also given a heat pack and some paracetamol for the pain.

I texted the father to tell him and he tried to phone me but I just couldn't bring myself to talk to him.

After half an hour I felt able to get up and dress ready to leave. I walked to my car and just broke down in tears.

I did speak to the father and, to be fair to him, he was lovely. He asked if I was ok and something made me say yes. He was then satisfied I was alright so that was the end of that. I wish I had told him the truth about how dreadful it was but the moment had passed, part of me wanted him to be ok. It is now three days on and I have not heard from him again, despite previously having been in touch several times a day.

I am in tears all of the time and I just can't cope. I have never felt so alone, nobody to talk to and struggling with feelings of guilt and sadness. I also have to carry on as normal when my husband and child are around.

I have messed up, lost a friend and ruined my life, all for one night of madness.

Editor's comment

Thank you for having the courage to tell this very traumatic story. You not only had the emotional pain of your 'friend' not being there for you but also a terrible physical experience. I know that this procedure is very painful without sedation and I'm surprised that they continued when you were obviously not coping. It sounded almost barbaric! You were obviously very low at the time of writing this and blame yourself for what happened, but there were 2 people involved here. 2 people who chose to meet up and then both of you took the decision to have an abortion. I think when you feel ready to talk to someone it would help you especially as you are so locked in secrecy, and have no one to confide in. Hopefully just telling of your terrible experience will give you some relief. Please don't suffer alone there are trained advisors who can help you through this and I believe you will find a light at the end of the tunnel - you can find a centre for post abortion support in your area on this page.

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