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When I got back from the vacay (which was bittersweet, when I'd think about what I had to do when I returned home), it took forever to find a place/doc who would perform the procedure. No one at my regular clinic would do it, no other doc in my town would do it for me because I wasn't a patient of theirs, etc, etc. I finally got the number for Planned Parenthood and made an appointment.
The day of the abortion the father came and picked me up. We had an hour drive to the center and neither one of us spoke the whole way. We got there and they buzzed us in. It was kind of a creepy place, I have to admit. And it didn't help that there were two mothers with newborns in the waiting room with us.
I went to the back to do it and was informed the doc who performs abortions had to leave due to a family emergency, so I couldn't do it today. I just put my head in my hands. I didn't sleep the night before, I had prepared myself for it that day, I was getting time off with no pay from work to do this ... I was devastated. The nurse left me alone to think about it and came back 10 minutes later with phone numbers to see if clinics in the city, another hour away, would perform one for me the same day. She made some calls and found a place that had a no-show and would do it, but we had 45 minutes to get there.
I thought the father, my ride, would be [very upset], but he told me not to worry and we booked it for the city. I was by then too tired to be scared anymore.
We got to the place within about 10 minutes of the appointment. There was a protester standing outside the clinic, but thankfully didn't say anything to us as we walked in.
I first did an ultrasound, which they wouldn't let me see. They said I was exactly 8 weeks along. I asked, "What does it look like," picturing a little thing with arms and legs. They said very curtly, "It looks like a tiny fetus," and shut off the machine. Then I went into a room to see a counselor, who asked me how I felt about it, if I was being forced to do this, etc. I told her I have a crap job, I live alone, I'm in debt, I'm trying to finish college, I'm not in a relationship with the father, and it just was not the right time. I told her how I was very scared of the actual procedure and she told me it was like bad menstrual cramps, and that I'd be given drugs to ease the pain. I felt better and she had me sign a million papers. I was given a blood test, and then we (the counselor, me, and the father) all went upstairs.
After more waiting, my name was called and I went to a large room where several other women were sitting, all in hospital gowns. I was asked some more questions, then told to wear the gown and use the restroom. Once I came out I was given several pills, including valium, vicodin, ibuprophen, and some other pill to help my uterus shrink to normal size. Then I was told to sit and wait for the drugs to kick in.
I waited about 30 minutes, and soon I was the only person waiting. I was told that when I became drowsy, they would perform the procedure. I was feeling tired, but wasn't sure if it was from the lack of sleep or the drugs kicking in. A nurse came and told me it was time and we walked to different room to do it.
I sat on the table and lied down, and had a nurse on my left, and the doc and another nurse at my feet. I was tired, but remembered what the counselor had said about it being like cramps and wasn't as scared. The nurse next to me held my hand and I felt the doc put in the speculum, then the cotton swab. Then I felt this shooting pain and was told they were numbing my cervix. Then I felt the worst pain of my life. I was sobbing, yelling, thrashing around as the nurse held me down and kept telling me to relax, I was doing great, it would be over soon, etc. It felt like forever. I remember hearing the doc say, "Hush up, it's not that bad."
I felt like I was being tortured. I'm not exaggerating; it was the worst pain I have ever experienced. After it was over I still had stabbing pain in my abdomen and could feel myself bleeding everywhere. I was sweating everywhere and absolutely weeping. The nurse who held my hand helped me sit up and then she and another nurse slowly put my legs together to get my underwear on. The two of them walked me to a recovery room and had me sit in a chair. I was still sobbing, feeling the pain and begging them to let me lie down. They wouldn't let me and plopped a heating pad on my belly, which didn't help anything; adding to my sweat, already dripping off me. I wouldn't stop asking to lie down, and as I sat there, three nurses muttered to each other if they should let me or not. Finally they said I could, but that I had to use the toilet first. I didn't even have to go.
I was helped into the restroom, and really get fuzzy at this part. The drugs finally hit me, all at once, and I fell off the toilet and onto the floor. I remember hearing the nurses say, "Stay with us! Stay with us!" but I was too tired to care. I vaguely remember being lifted onto a rolling bed, and conked out. I was dimly aware of the nurses around me, checking my blood pressure and checking my bleeding (I soaked thru my underwear, the gown, and the sheets). I was drifting in and out of sleep when I remembered that I'd asked to see it before the procedure.
It may sound morbid or gross, but it helped me have closure and see that it wasn't a little fetus or baby like anti-abortionists want one to believe. It was just tissue and blood. There really wasn't anything to see.
I fell back asleep and what seemed like a minute later they woke me up to tell me I had to leave because other patients were coming in to recover. A half hour had passed in reality. They helped me get dressed, then put me in a wheelchair. I couldn't keep my head up so I was slumped over and falling asleep again. Later, the father told me it freaked him out to see me in a wheelchair and not moving. He said the nurse told him that "the drugs hit her pretty hard," and left it at that. He put me in the car and we drove home. I slept the whole way.
From what I've heard of other women who've had the same procedure, it was not nearly as painful. I'm not sharing my story to frighten anyone, but I feel it needs to be known that every woman is different and what's general uncomfort to one can be excruciating pain to another. I feel two mistakes were made by the abortion clinic. One, they didn't wait long enough for the drugs to hit me, cos obviously, they kicked in AFTER the procedure. Two, I don't think they numbed my cervix sufficiently. As I was waiting for my "turn," I heard several nurses comment on how patients were backed up and they needed to get thru them quickly. I feel had these errors not have happened, I would have had a much less painful experience.
I do not regret my abortion, because I believe that it was not the right time for me to have a child. I do not believe I murdered anything, because one cannot murder a soul. I believe that the soul, the life of the child will return to me when it is the right time. The same night, I wrote a letter to him (I know my child would have been a boy) explaining why I did what I did and asked for him to forgive me. That night I dreamt of my future son, who told me one day I'll be his mum, and a good one at that. One day.
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Posted 11 Oct Jun 2003.
Copyright 2003 by Pregnant Pause