Surgical Abortion at 14wks During the Pandemic

by Anonymous

July 27, 2020

First of all, if you have made the decision to terminate your pregnancy during this pandemic: fear not.  I had an experience that was as positive as it could have been and YOU WILL BE OK.  I am in my early 30s, have a stable job and a decent boyfriend.  I was going though a divorce from an extremely toxic relationship that was dragging on for over 3 years and causes a lot of stress and disruption in my life.

Discovering I was pregnant:

The path to discovering I was even pregnant was odd.  I am in my early 30s and have been on birth control pills for 15 years.  I sometimes take a dose late here and there, perhaps I was slightly more off schedule during the pandemic, taking it at different times of the day, but I was not blatantly irresponsible.  I did not have the usual symptoms and I blamed all feelings of malaise on my anxiety, stress and being quarantined.  I work out often and I still had definition in my abs, no changes to my physical appearance at all.  I had terrible acid reflux for a few weeks that subsided, mostly, after taking medication.  The reflux made me a little nauseous but I did not have traditional morning sickness.  I was tired all the time, which I blamed on my new job.  I remember having my “period” on memorial day weekend.  I missed my period in late June.  I was still in denial.  I again blamed it on stress, anxiety, being on birth control for so long.  Three weeks went by and I decided to buy a pregnancy test on Amazon.  I woke up early on a Sunday morning to take it.  I was shaking as I opened the package.  I peed on the stick and WHAM.  It took about one second to read POSITIVE.  I realized then that I was SUPER pregnant.  I knew instantly the path I wanted to take and I started researching abortions online.  I live with my boyfriend who was still asleep and felt so much apprehension I went to my car for a good cry and to get the ball rolling on getting an appointment.  My first search was Planned Parenthood.  Their call line was closed for the weekend and I couldn’t book an appointment online.  I started searching for clinics on Google and found one where I could book an appointment online and get a medical abortion the next day.  Done!  I stayed in my car for about 30 minutes crying and debating whether to tell my boyfriend or not.  I went online to read abortion stories and to seek advice–I’m so glad I did.  There is great information out there from brave and strong women.  I decided to tell my boyfriend.  It went as well as I had hoped.  He was supportive but I could tell he was also in shock and processing the whole ordeal.

The Consultation
I went in for my medical abortion appointment nervous as can be.  I felt ashamed, I was worried there would be protesters outside (there were not), I was scared of getting my blood drawn, scared of the pills after reading stories online.  Still, I knew it was something I wanted/needed to do.  I met with a nurse, gave them my case history.  Told her my last known period was the end of May and we were both certain I must be around 8 weeks.  She told me I just needed to get my ultrasound done to confirm how far along I was and the doctor would give me the pills and go over how to use them.  I had my ultrasound performed and to my dismay, the tech said I was TWELVE weeks and 3 days.  Too late for a medical abortion.  She gave me a list of clinics that perform surgical abortions and told me they could not help me at this clinic.  I was numb. And scared. And nervous. And ashamed I was so out of touch with my body.  So many emotions.  Still I hopped on the phone and called one of the clinics on the list.  They had an opening for a surgical abortion in 3 days.  DONE.  I then scrambled to find coverage for myself at work and spent the rest of the day crying–not because it was a tough decision.  More because I was disappointed in myself, scared, lonely, ashamed.  Just many emotions.

Surgery Day
I arrived at the surgical center with my boyfriend and there was one protester at the door trying to shove a pamphlet in my face.  I walked right past him.  They screened our temperatures and surprisingly, let my boyfriend wait with me in the lobby which had chairs very socially distanced.  I was surprised to see the variety of people in the lobby: women of many races and ages, some with friends/family, some with significant others.  There were very few women there alone.  They called me back, took my blood pressure, had me do a finger prick and urine test and then led me to get an ultrasound.  There was a lot of waiting between each test and this process took about 1 hour.  I waited and was not too nervous because I just had one and knew what to expect and what the outcome would be.  The tech came in to perform the test and paused when she was done saying, “you’re further along than we thought.  You’re FOURTEEN weeks.”  I was in shock and then scared I would not be able to get the procedure done.  She had to go talk to the surgeon.  I waited in the preop room for what seemed like an eternity.  It was actually about an hour.  A nurse came to give me pills to take to soften my tissue and assured me I would still be able to get it done.  I put the pills in my cheeks to dissolve and waited another hour.  During this hour I got an email from my divorce lawyer congratulating me that my divorce was FINALIZED.  It was surreal.

A nurse called me back to the surgery room and had me change into a gown.  She led me to the surgery table which looked like a room where they perform lethal injections.  I was terrified and nervous but I put my brave face on.  The nurse anesthetist came to put set up the IV drip.  This was BY FAR the worse part of the whole procedure and it wasn’t even bad.  I was to get general anesthesia via propofol.  We chit chatted for a few minutes while I waited for the doctor.  The surgeon came in and asked how I was doing.  I said I was quite nervous.  Her response was “don’t be.  This is super safe and will be over in 7 minutes.  You will be fine.”  That was all I needed to feel better.  The nurse administered the propofol and I fell asleep in less than 5 seconds.  Another nurse woke me up in the recovery area. I was having cramps, probably 8/10 for about five minutes.  Then the cramping subsided to 4/10.  I waited in bed for about 20 minutes and then they escorted me to get changed and meet with another nurse for check out.  That nurse took my blood pressure and gave me 4 antibiotic pills to take with dinner that night.  I took ibuprofen before I left and the cramps went down to 1/10.  I was groggy but felt SO MUCH relief it was over.  I had my boyfriend take me straight to Mc Donalds afterwards and I raged on a Mc Flurry and chicken nuggets.  I took a nap and watched movies for the rest of the night. I had moderate to light bleeding, no worse than a normal period.

I felt instantly better the next day.  I was still tired and my arm was sore from the IV.  But I worked a full day and felt ok.  You can definitely return to work the next day, albeit take it easy.  I am still taking ibuprofen as needed and bleeding very lightly two days out but I can already feel my body going back to normal.  I have a two week follow up scheduled and am relieved it is all over.

In summary:
As everyone has said, the days leading up to the surgery are the worst.  The actual procedure is not bad.  I had to have a last minute second trimester D+E procedure and it was not bad at all. It is ok to be nervous but do not let your fear and anxiety consume you. Like my surgeon said, the procedure is easy, fast and SAFE.  You will be OK and your life will go back to normal soon.  Please read success stories from other women to empower yourself.  I am so proud of myself for making it through this journey.  It took all the emotional strength I had but I’ve emerged stronger and more resilient than ever.  I feel hopeful for the first time in a very long time. Stay strong and remember females are strong as hell.

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