Following an uncomfortable holiday season and days of working early mornings with abrupt waves of nausea, I discovered I was pregnant, for the first time, at the age of 20.
It hit me in the shower, one morning… Amidst shampooing my hair, I was overcome by an overwhelming need to sit down. I dropped to my knees in the tub, head in my hands and internally questioned, “Why do I feel so sick, every morning?”
My jaw dropped. I began to connect the dots- my period was a week overdue, I was constantly fatigued, every intense smell either made me nauseous or ravenous… I was pregnant.
I made it through an entire day of work, anxiously watching the clock, needing to get home and confirm the pregnancy with a self-serve urine test.
I took two, at-home pregnancy tests and they both revealed a bold “+” sign. What now?
My partner and I have been together for a couple years and we had discussed the possibility, for preparation purposes. He and I are both full-time college students with predictably unsupportive families… We had no means to care for a child in our present circumstances.
Abortion was our only viable option, as, not only was I unable to raise a child, I was not comfortable remaining pregnant, either.
On January 14th, 2014, I terminated my pregnancy at 8 weeks, gestation. The experience was uncomfortable and unfamiliar… but the clinic’s staff was very supportive. My appointment started with a simple urine test, blood test, and ultra sound. The nurse was very kind in making the ultra sound as quick and indistinct, as possible- keeping the image out of view, avoiding small talk, etc.. Following, I spoke to a woman that recorded my personal information and made a copy of my ID; simple clerical stuff. Then, I spoke with a counselor who explained the procedure in a way that was extremely comforting. She joked with me about how the drug cocktail would make me so stoned that I’d barely feel a thing beyond uterine cramping, similar to menstrual cramping. She even shared her abortion experience and reassured me that everything would be okay.
After taking a muscle relaxer, Vicodin, Aleve, an antibiotic, and 2 tablets to soften/open my cervix, I was sent back to the waiting room. Unfortunately, I hadn’t eaten much prior to my appointment and the heavy dose of medications reacted poorly with my empty stomach. As each individual pill began to set in, I could intensely feel their effects. Wooziness, nausea, wobbly muscles, and worst of all… intense cramps. The tablets that cause your cervix to soften/open create a reaction in your uterus that makes it feel compelled to empty. I was warned to be aware of some pre-operative bleeding. At that point, I was ready to get the whole thing over with.
About a half-hour after taking the medications, I was lead to the room in which the procedure would take place. A nurse instructed me to undress from the waist down, take a seat on the table, and place a sheet over my legs . A side-effect to one of the pills caused me to feel unbearably frigid and I could not stop shaking, so they kindly wrapped a blanket around my shoulders. The doctor arrived and spoke reassuringly about the process and, like the counselor, shared her abortion experience. I distinctly remember her saying, “Our bodies are programed to get pregnant and sometimes the timing is just not right. It’s not your fault.” This small statement made a world of difference, at the time.
Immediately before the procedure, they injected another, precautionary, pain medication into my arm. This one made me very dizzy and very nearly sick. The nurse watched my face, intently, asking periodically if I needed to throw up. I was able to surpass the feeling of nausea and they began the procedure.
*I am aware of the details regarding the following information because I was told prior and did proper research. I was not able to see what was going on during the actual procedure (for which I am grateful).*
The doctor began by doing a brief pelvic exam. She then inserted a dilator (about the size of a regular strand of uncooked spaghetti) into my cervix to help it loosen and expand. Next, she inserted the suction tube (about the size of a straw), into my cervix and further into my uterus. The suction, essentially, removes the tissue and cells associated with the pregnancy. This lasted about 30 seconds and felt like severe period cramps. It was not gruesome or disturbing, in any way. During, the nurse even offered me her hand for support.
30 seconds and that was it. Following the suction, they had me sit up and immediately get dressed. They told me I was very strong and should feel proud of my tolerance for uncomfortable situations. The whole procedure, from stripping down to actually exiting the room, lasted a total of about 5 minutes.
Once outside the procedure room, they had me sit in a comfy chair with a heating pad and a cup of ginger-ale. My cramps were pretty intense, nothing short of what I feel during a normal menstrual period. A woman explained my after-care and gave me prescriptions for birth control and a medication to help subside bleeding/blood clots. I was free to leave whenever I felt up to it, so long as I had a ride home.
Soon after, I found my partner in the waiting room and we left. I’m extremely fortunate to have a man in my life that is so unconditionally supportive.
When I arrived home, I felt a pang of nausea in my stomach and rushed to the bathroom. I dry heaved about 8 times but nothing came up. After, I climbed into bed and let myself relax until the cramps subsided enough for me to fall asleep.
The next day, I woke up feeling absolutely fine. The cramping was minor, if not entirely non-existent, the bleeding had reduced to mild spotting, and the symptoms of my pregnancy had entirely disappeared. My stomach looked thin and normal, my appetite was back on track, my energy was up… It’s like I got my body back to myself.
And best of all? Feelings of despair or regret have yet to surface. I feel liberated and confident in my choice. I had to let go of a pregnancy because it wasn’t an appropriate time to be pregnant, and that’s okay! My spirits are up and I feel like myself, again. Now, I get to focus on building a future that IS appropriate for a family.
My only regret in this experience is that I did not feel comfortable sharing my choice with my family. I wish I were at a point where I could ignore the judgement and confidently share my story, but there is such a taboo with the practice that I fear, not only judgement… but verbal abuse. A dialogue needs to be established so that women, and even men, around the world can feel secure in sharing their stories and experiences. This subject is too prominent and too important to regard as taboo. We need a safe outlet.