I already feel like myself again.

by Anonymous

February 5, 2021

This is going to be extremely long, but I know that detailed accounts really helped me over the past week while I was freaking out. For some background, I (26f) have severe anxiety, depression and panic disorder, and I was certain I couldn’t get through this. (Spoiler alert: I did.) I was fortunate enough to have the support of my partner of 5 years and my sister throughout this process.

It’s been about 6 hours since I got home from my surgical abortion procedure (6w4d) and I feel over the moon. I found out I was pregnant a week ago and was lucky enough to get an appointment very quickly at a local clinic. I just knew that I wasn’t ready for a child because I have severe anxiety and depression, plus mountains of loan debt, so termination was the only route for me.

While I was confident in my decision, I was TERRIFIED for the procedure itself. I’d never had any sort of procedure done, not even minor dental work, so the fear of the unknown was crippling. I think I slept about 2-3 hours every night for the past week and lived on crackers and toast because my stomach was so upset from anxiety and morning sickness. I had multiple panic attacks every day leading up to today because I felt like a caged animal.

I did everything possible to prevent this pregnancy but it still happened, and I found myself in a damned if I do, damned if I don’t situation where either option felt like a death sentence.

But I reminded myself over and over that there would be life on the other side of this, so I held on.

The Big Day

Much to my dismay, the morning of my appointment finally arrived and I knew it was inevitable. I spent about 30 minutes violently dry heaving from stress, convinced I wouldn’t be able to follow through. I tried to choke down some breakfast but could hardly eat, which I would go on to regret heavily (more on that later).

I steeled myself against the anxiety and forced myself out to the car. I’m not kidding when I say it felt like I was walking to the electric chair. I was shaking uncontrollably with fear. My boyfriend drove us 30 minutes away to the family planning clinic, where I checked in at 8:45am and was told to take a seat. This was one of the parts I was so afraid of – the fact that my partner couldn’t come into the waiting room due to COVID made me feel so alone.

I sat there looking around at all the other people – some of them looked worried like me, some of them completely calm, and still others just glazed over. Immediately, I felt a profound connection to these people – we were all marching through this experience together, though I know all of us felt alone. I wanted to hug all of them.

After about 15 minutes, I was called back to go over some basic paperwork. I had printed mine out the night before so I didn’t have to complete it when I got there. The nurse who helped me was so kind and approachable and instantly made me feel at least a little more comfortable. We just talked over some basics and she sent me back out to the car to wait for the next step.

Here’s where the waiting begins. It was absolutely the most agonizing part of this entire process. I waited for about an hour between each step, just stewing in my anxiety and making it so much harder on myself.

After an hour or so, they called me back in. I had my blood pressure taken and got my finger pricked (it literally didn’t hurt at all, like I didn’t even realize she had done it by the time it was over) to confirm my blood type. Fortunately, I was positive, so I didn’t need the extra shot of Rhogam.

Then I followed another nurse into a small room, where I had to strip down to just my shirt and lay on a table with my legs in stirrups and a sheet over my lower half. She did a vaginal ultrasound, which was hardly uncomfortable at all and only took a minute. Then I wiped off the gel, put my leggings back on, and walked across the hall to give a urine sample. After that, it was back out to the car for more waiting.

This hour was probably the worst. I thought I was going to start dry heaving again because I knew the actual procedure was getting closer and closer. I literally just paced around the parking lot holding a plastic bag in case I threw up. Finally, they called me back in for counseling.

I met with a very kind and funny nurse to talk about my emotional needs. She made sure I wasn’t being coerced and listened endlessly as I told her how afraid I was. I’m emetophobic and pharmacophobic, so I was terrified of the IV sedation, and I made sure to tell everyone that multiple times. Still, I opted to have the sedation because I didn’t want to feel the pain either. After we chatted for a few minutes, she told me to head back out to the car one last time and to expect another hour or so of waiting.

36 minutes later, they called me back in. I freaked the hell out, y’all. This was it. I decided that, even if I threw up right there on the table, it would be worth it in the end. It was either that or carry the pregnancy to term, so I gathered up all my resolve and walked inside.

The Procedure

After emptying my bladder per their instructions, I followed a new nurse back to the room where it would happen. One thing I liked about my clinic was that the rooms didn’t feel incredibly “clinical” – they kept the lights low and had some warm touches in the room to make it feel less scary.

The nurse left me a bag to put my shoes and pants in, a hospital gown, and a pad to put in my underwear. I undressed, put on the gown, and sat on the edge of the table before the doctor and nurses filed in. There were three women in the room with me: the doctor, who administered my sedation and completed the procedure, one nurse monitoring my vitals, and another nurse who was there just to hold my hand and talk.

I felt an insane flush of panic wash over me as they walked in and I realized that this was really it. I had to sit there on the edge of the table for a minute (I apologized profusely for wasting their time and they told me not to apologize because it’s normal to be nervous) before laying back and committing to the process.

My nurses were my heroes through all of this. They distracted me with conversation about my cats and The Legend of Zelda while the doctor was inserting the IV (which, by the way, was surprisingly painless) and administering a low dose of fentanyl and midazolam.

I was shocked by how mild the sedation felt. I definitely noticed a shift (I remember asking, “are the drugs happening now?”) but it wasn’t the crazy dissociative experience I’d been fearing. Before I could even realize what was happening, the doctor started the procedure. I’m not exactly sure what she did because my nurses were still distracting me, but I remember commenting on the pinch when she gave me the numbing shot and squeezing the life out of both nurses’ hands as she used the vacuum to suction it out.

I think it hurt, but to be honest, I don’t really have memory of the pain. And it was so fast, I couldn’t believe it when they told me I was done. Then it was just me and my vitals nurse in the room, and she helped me sit up, put my underwear on, and get across the hall to the recovery room. I had pretty bad cramps (like the worst day of my period but nothing I couldn’t handle) but all in all, I was on top of the world. I had done it.


I befriended another woman in the recovery room and we bonded over how hungry we were. She told me her brother ate a cheeseburger in front of her in the car before she came in and she was ready to slap him. I laughed and told her my sister was waiting for me with donuts out in the parking lot.

Another incredibly kind nurse checked my vitals, asked me to rate my pain on a scale of 1-10 (it was about a 5), and had me pull away the front of my underwear to show her the blood on my pad. There wasn’t much at all! She gave me a heating pad for the cramps and attended to the other girls for a while as I sat there and texted my boyfriend that I had made it through.

I had been really nervous for the recovery period because I thought I’d be overly aware of the sensation of being drugged, or that I’d be nauseous and vomit, but to be honest, all I could think about was how I couldn’t wait to get out to the car and eat that donut.

After probably 30 minutes, the nurse came over and asked the same questions before helping me out of the chair and to the bathroom to get changed. I put on my regular clothes while she stood there to make sure I didn’t fall, and then we sat down at a table to talk over my homecare packet. She gave me an antibiotic, some ibuprofen, and a prescription for birth control, and then she walked me down the hall to the entrance. Just like that, it was over. I had never felt more proud of myself. I ate my donut on the drive home and talked my boyfriend’s ear off about how happy I was that it was done.

Honestly, I wholeheartedly believed I wouldn’t get through this experience alive. I made myself miserable for an entire week because I was so afraid, but it wasn’t worth even a fraction of that fear. Everyone was so kind and caring, and the procedure was so quick and easy I couldn’t believe I’d ever been afraid of it. It felt like a regular pap smear with extra steps. I’m not kidding when I say the worst part was waiting and being hungry all day.

Once we got home, I put on one of my comfort TV shows and conked out for a nap. I woke up and ordered a huge plate of BBQ, marveling at the fact that I was actually hungry for regular food! It’s been about 24 hours since the procedure, and I’m sleepy but so happy and proud of myself. If I can do it, you absolutely can. And I’m so proud of all of us for making the choice to control our own bodies and lives.

Remember that our stories are ours to tell. We’d love to hear your story too!