I found out I was pregnant a bit later on than I would have liked. I was in denial for a long time that I was. I had been suffering badly with nausea, heart burn and fatigue for a couple months, but I think my brain wanted to convince me that there must be some other reason. I had had a couple of stressful months in my personal life and I had missed my period before due to stress. I didn’t think it could happen to me until it did.

I am 20 years old, I love my boyfriend to death and know I want a family with him one day. However neither of us are in the right places in our lives physically, mentally or financially to raise a child the way I would want to raise one. He bought me the test and stayed with me the entire time. When the stick said positive, I remember my knees giving in and falling to the floor in tears, I wanted the first time I found out I was pregnant to be a happy experience, this was definitely not.

After talking about it with him, and shedding a lot of tears, I knew what I wanted. Although it scared me I knew I needed to make the phone call to the doctor as soon as possible as I suspected I was already 3 months pregnant. I didn’t know who to phone. So I thought best to get in contact with my GP and ask her advice. She informed me I can self refer to the woman’s health department, I can remember apologising for wasting her time. It was the first time I was told that I had no need to apologise. She assured me that I would be looked after and that I wasn’t the first and wouldn’t be the last.

After phoning woman’s health, they asked some simple questions. When was my last period? Was I being pressured into this? Was I safe? Was I on contraception?, all of which I expected they would ask. She gauged I was around 12 weeks and told me I would need to wait a further 2 weeks for an appointment. On the day of the appointment I would be phoned between 8:30am and 12pm for a consult and she told me to prepare for it to possibly happen that day so to get the time off work, they also said they could provide a sick line. However with my boyfriend being my boss, I don’t need this, but some woman might so I thought I would mention that incase someone is worrying about it. She was absolutely lovely, answering all my questions and worries. No question is stupid to ask.

For the next two weeks I felt like there was a weight on top of me. I was all of a sudden aware of this life growing inside of me. I was brought up religious in the Catholic Church. My mums views were that of the Catholic Church. But I had always believed a woman’s body is her own. In saying that, I had many break downs over guilt and the fear of regret. I also acted like I was pregnant, I hadn’t drank in months due to nausea, I tried to eat cleanly, and I didn’t over do it with physical exercise. I had only told one of my best friends, my boyfriend who was with me when I took the test and every night since taking it and his best friend who were all amazingly supportive. Sometimes you just need someone to sit with you and listen to you, even if you think your worries are silly.

I worked away for two weeks acting as normal as I could, while being violently sick with nausea most nights and having massive food aversions. On the day of my appointment I received a phone call at around 9:30am for a consultation. The nurse on the phone asked me similar questions to the nurse two weeks ago. She told me to come in that afternoon to have a scan as she wanted to know how far along I was, to decide what method I would be advised for. Again she was lovely. Myself and my boyfriend went to the Maternity unit for 2pm, where I was seen in gynaecology. I thought it was a bit strange that they did this in the maternity unit as I would see heavily pregnant mums walking around excited for their scans.

I was in the waiting room for about 20 minutes before they took me in. I was taken into a large room where there was a bed and an ultrasound machine. A radiologist was there along with a nurse. I laid down and she told me I wouldn’t hear or see anything unless I asked. I knew if I looked I wouldn’t cope so I opted to turn my head while the nurse spoke to me about my job and life in general. The scan only took about 5 minutes and I joined my boyfriend in the waiting room again. After a further 10 minutes I was taken into a room with another two nurses. My boyfriend wasn’t allowed in with me, I think they want to know you’re not being pressured however I would have liked him there to be with me. She gave me the hardest news I have ever been given. I was 13 weeks +1 day pregnant. Almost into my second trimester. I felt my stomach clench. She explained throughly that I was now too far along for a surgical abortion and I also would not be allowed to do it at home alone. I would need to be admitted to the hospital for the day in the woman’s health department where I would pass the pregnancy with nurses around. She asked me if I was sure I still wanted this and at this point I wasn’t I am not going to lie. In my head a 13 week baby is a baby, it has a heart beat and fingers and toes. But I wasn’t ready to be a mum and I had spoken at lengths with my boyfriend. So I told her I was sure. She informed me that every time I would go to the toilet that day, to do anything it would need to be done into a bed pan. Basically a cardboard box in the shape of a toilet seat. Which when I heard I was pretty taken back by but I could completely understand. She gave me some forms to sign, one of which was was a consent for the pregnancy to be disposed of discreetly at the hospital. I didn’t know that this would be a thing to think about but in case anyone else is going through this it is something they talk to you about. She told me I needed my bloods done to check iron and blood type because if I was Rh negative I would need a shot of antibodies to make sure my future pregnancies wouldn’t be affected, again something I never thought of. After having my bloods done, she gave me an appointment for a 6 days time to come back and have the first pill, and a second appointment 2 days after that to come back and be admitted for the day where I would have to insert 4 pills into my vagina and wait for the pregnancy to pass in a ‘ward’. After having my blood done and her asking me again if I had any other questions, I spoke to her about my concerns for the day of and she assured me I would be given pain meds and the nurses would be there the entire time.

Leaving that appointment, I felt a sense of upset I hadn’t experienced yet. I was for the first time questioning my decision. Of course you can say no at any point, but having heard I was 13 weeks, it all became real. Walking to the car I cried to my boyfriend who assured me he would be there whatever I decided and it would be ok. It’s insane what your mind can do, and I was so aware of this small baby inside of me, it was the first time I have felt maternal instincts. I couldn’t understand how I wanted to protect something I was also willing to destroy.

However my mind was made up, and I knew it was for the best for me. Someone I never thought about. Another week of nausea and tiredness went past and I tried to not think of the day of the abortion. I returned to the hospital to be given the first pill, it was a very quick appointment, maybe 10 minutes. She spoke me through what would happen at the next appointment. However I don’t think anything would prepare me for that day.

Driving to the hospital for the third time, I was so anxious. I was told to be at the hospital for 8 am, however I was 15 minutes late because my boyfriend slept in a bit. When I got there I sat in a chair in the corridor and waited for the nurse to take me in. She brought me to an exam room where she went over my notes, told me my bloods were fine and I was Rh + so would not need antibodies. She told me I would need to eat something soon so I could take the pain meds they were giving me and not feel nauseous. She then gave me the 4 pills to be inserted and showed me the bathroom. I was allowed to do everything myself but they were there if I needed any help. She then spoke to me about the effects of the pill. Saying I would have heavy cramping, I might have loose bowel movements and it could make me sick. All of which I knew. I was then shown to a day room, there were curtains separating cubicles for each girl, with a reclining chair, tables with sanitary pads on top. They ask you to use their pads so they know how much you are bleeding, they aren’t the most glamorous or comfortable but they do the job and you only need maybe 3 or 4 of them. She gave me a morning roll with some butter and jam to eat so I could take my pain meds. The cramps however started pretty fast, probably within 15 minutes of inserting them. There was only one other girl in the same room as me, we had to share a bathroom where the bed pans were however it was very private and I maybe only saw her 2 times.

The bathroom was a just a toilet with a a stack of bed pans. For the first 2 hours I had no bleeding, however I did have loose bowel movements all of which had to be done into bed pans and given to the nurses. I thought I would find this embarrassing but at this point with the pain, you don’t really think about it and they have seen it all before. There was a tv in the room playing ‘This Morning’ which I tried to watch however I mostly sat rocking and concentrating on my breathing to get through the contraction like cramps that came in waves. I was also given heat packs and a blanket for comfort which they are more than happy to give you whenever you need, I would say the heat packs helped a lot so I would definitely ask for them. After 2.5 hours I hadn’t bled at all, and I was worried. I asked my favourite nurse who had been with me at the scan and was just so comforting, if that was normal. She told me of course every woman is different however you will find that the bleeding comes fast and a lot so to be prepared. The nurse came in to take my vitals again which they did at the beginning as well and I asked if I could have stronger pain meds because the ones they gave me were doing nothing. She said of course and said it would take maybe half an hour to get them prescribed so I was given paracetamol in the mean time. She then gave me my second dose of the abortion drug that I left dissolve under my tongue and then swallowed after 10 minutes. It was just after these pills that the cramps got to their worst and I felt a lot of pressure, almost like I needed to push, so I grabbed a pad and went to the toilet again. I sat over a fresh bed pan and pushed like the nurse said.

As I said nothing can prepare you for what you see. I felt a massive gush of liquid come out and hit the pan, and then something dropped out of me. I didn’t want to look but I knew I had to see if anything had actually came out or if it was actually just blood clots. I don’t want to go into great detail, but it definitely was not a collection of cells. It was a small underdeveloped foetus, still attached to the umbilical cord. I pushed again and felt another drop, that was the placenta coming out. I will say, the pushing and it coming out, did not hurt at all, and as soon as it’s out the cramps pretty much disappear. I sat there for a second in shock. Not knowing whether to cry or be relieved as the pain was gone.

I stood up and cleaned myself up at the sink, blood doesn’t pour out of you or anything, once it’s done it’s done. I left the bed pan for a second. Not wanting to look, but I picked it up and put it over at the sink covering it with a paper towel. I dropped to my knees and prayed for it. I asked for its soul to be carried. I said my sorry and asked for forgiveness, all of which you don’t need to ask for, there is nothing to be sorry about. I spent maybe 10 minutes in the bathroom alone with my thoughts and the foetus. Trying to gather myself together, but you are allowed to break down. The nurse chapped the door to ask if I was ok. Coming out the bathroom I looked at the nurse and told her it was over. She collected my bed pan and came to my cubicle 2 minutes later. She told me it was all there and gave me a hug, the kindness I was shown was very reassuring. I was crying and telling her nothing could prepare you to see that and she agreed, but assured me I did well and it was over.

I sat there for an hour or so, a nurse came by and gave me a leaflet on contraception, talked me through different types and I decided I wanted to have the injection before I left which she arranged for me. After some time I went to the toilet again and passed another large blood clot, again it wasn’t sore, and the cramps were now like light period cramps. They tell you to bring a change of underwear and trousers, I wore black joggers and changed into another pair because I did get blood on them, they also make you feel fresher. I would say wear whatever you are comfortable in, baggy t shirt, joggies, leggings, as long as you are comfortable. I also brought my own pads, I used Tenna over night pads, they are huge and super absorbant and I would recommend them for after the pregnancy has passed. I wore big underwear, and a hoodie. They provided me with lunch, it was a sandwich and some soup but after I passed the pregnancy I felt I wanted to eat. I also brought some crisps, a juice and chocolate incase i wanted to snack.

They kept me for a few hours to monitor my bleeding and make sure I wasn’t bleeding too much before they let me go so I continued to use bed pans. The first bed pan after the pregnancy has passed was a lot of blood clots and tissue, again this did not hurt to pass. After a couple of toilet trips the nurse told me my bleeding had reduced enough to be discharged. I was so relieved, this was around 3:30pm so I had been in for around 7.5 hours in total. She got my discharge notes ready and my contraceptive injection. I was still in shock but she spoke to me again, gave me a leaflet with counselling numbers on and let me know I could phone them at any time if something wasn’t right or if I had questions. All of which I was grateful for. She gave me my contraceptive injection and I was picked up by my boyfriends best friend as my boyfriend had to work but that was ok as I just wanted to go home and sleep, I will say the whole experience was exhausting. Mentally and physically. I didn’t bleed a lot on the way home and changed my pads regularly whenever I needed however there were no more clots and I was taking paracetamol or ibuprofen to help with any cramps which were not that bad at all.

The bleeding the day after was a bit heavier and it felt like there was a tight belt around my stomach. But it wasn’t unbearable and light pain meds did help. My appetite returned and I slept a lot due to the blood loss. But I was looked after the entire time.

Tell whoever you need to tell. In the end I did tell my parents who surprisingly for me were both supportive and non judgmental, having your mum to speak to helps a lot if you have that relationship with them, and my mum is an amazing mum. But you need someone. I would not of got through this without my people around me supporting me. And reassuring me the whole time. I fear for those who don’t have the same support but the staff at the hospital are also amazing.

I am writing all this because I wish I had known more. I wish more woman spoke about the full experience, not just the fact it was upsetting. Of course it is upsetting but knowledge can be so useful and put you at so much ease. I searched for days for stories from real woman, not YouTube videos made by companies explaining the science behind the pills you take. I wanted to know what the hospital experience was like, and what to expect. I had no idea how many appointments I would need, how it would happen, how I would be treated. All I wanted was to hear someone else’s story to give me some idea of what to expect. This experience was awful, was it excruciating? Yeah. But I don’t regret it. I can’t wait to be a mum one day. On my terms, when I want it and it’s right. And nobody is a bad person for thinking that way. The whole experience humbled me in a completely new way. And gave me a new respect for the NHS. I was looked after so well through the whole process and I hope any woman who goes through it experiences the same. I would love to be the kind of person who could talk about this openly one day and I know I will be. But right now I am focusing on recovering which takes longer than you think as you bleed for a couple weeks after and the mental strain is exhausting. Woman are so strong and our bodies are amazing with what they can go through. I hope this story reaches someone like myself, a young girl who is scared and needs some reassurance. That they too will be OK.