I wanted to share my experience with everyone of my abortion at 9 1/2 weeks, mostly because it was as positive an experience as something like this could be.
I had decided to do a medical (pill) abortion at first, but then changed my mind. I am very glad I did. At first it seems like swallowing a pill, and then just sitting on the toilet at home would be the least stressful way to do it. But my experience with surgical abortion made me very glad that I didn’t choose a way that would have taken hours, if not a full day, and would have put me in pain for much longer.
There are four parts to a surgical abortion. They do a health screening and a vaginal ultrasound to confirm the date of conception, they talk with you to explain the procedure and allow you to voice questions or concerns, they perform the procedure, and they bring you to the recovery room. While I was told I would be there for 3.5-6 hours, I was actually there for 2.75 hours. I waited twenty minutes on arrival, ten minutes between the ultrasound and the talk, and half an hour between the talk and the procedure. The procedure itself only took 15 minutes.
The walls were bright colors, there was nice music in the background in all the rooms, and there was a large, friendly staff including people who were just there for support. I think there were a few volunteers as well.
The vaginal ultrasound was not painful at all. It was just a stick, kind of like a dildo. There were no sounds, like a heartbeat (which I had been worried about) and I didn’t see the screen (though they do ask you if you want to see the screen).
The talk was very straightforward, they tell you how it works, and what to expect. They give you antibiotics, anti-nausea medication, and Tylenol. Apparently many people also take anti-anxiety medications and additional medications that provide mild sedation. I was very glad that I chose NOT to take those medicines (although I guess that is rare). I was able to function the rest of the day, and I didn’t have the strong nausea and vomiting that everyone I saw who took the sedation meds had. I guess that is a possible side affect?
The procedure was performed by a female (everyone was female) doctor in her mid 60s, she was very experienced. She had an apprentice who was learning by her side. They asked my permission to bring her into the room. I was very glad to oblige…when the main Doc was born, abortion was a criminal act. Now, I could simply check in at the front desk, and receive support and assistance from skilled professionals. I felt thankful for this.
There was a third woman in the room just to act as support, she explained the procedure as it occurred, reminded me to breath, and offered a hand to squeeze if I needed it, but it was over almost before it began.
The most painful part was the dilation of my cervix. They inserted the speculum, and gave me a numbing drug in the cervix. The needle for the numbing agent was a very, very sharp pain, however I am sure it would have been much worse if they hadn’t numbed it.
I had at first been skeptical of the surgical abortion because of the description of the vacuum. I imagined horrible sensations of things being ripped out of me by suction. That was not at all the sensation. Not even close.
What actually happened was that as they dilated my cervix I began to get very, very, very strong cramps. I started to breath very intensely in my nose and out my mouth. I basically narrowed my mind to only focusing on my breath: In and out. The cramps became stronger. If the worst period cramps were a 5 on the scale of 1-10 pain, these cramps were about a 7. I focused only on my breath, in and out. I heard the sound of a machine turn on in the background for what felt like 5 seconds, felt a very gentle, almost imperceptible tug, and then heard it turn off. Suddenly I realized it was over. I asked…is that it? They said yep! The only sensation I felt was cramps a bit stronger than period cramps, and a very brief, gentle tug. It was incredibly quick.
I was brought to the recovery room, where the most painful part occurred. This is simply because I had the same level of cramps that I had had during the procedure, but just for a longer time. I was at a level 7 for about 10 minutes. However they gave me a second anti-nausea pill, I laid back in a big recliner, they gave me a nice heating pad, and I closed my eyes and breathed in and out. I was there for the longest time of any part of the day. I spent about 45 minutes there. They checked in on me every 15 minutes, and did not rush me at all. Eventually I felt well enough to sit up and eat some cheese-its. Then they asked me to report on the level of bleeding on the pad they had given me, which was light. I was then around a level 4 in pain. When I got to a level 3, I called my partner Bill to let him know I was ready. Then I went to the bathroom, and checked out.
I was starving when I got out, and inhaled two slices of artisan mashed potato chive and bacon pizza. This was delicious, but probably a mistake. The pressure on my uterus increased the cramping to a 4, and there was a bumpy ride back home on back roads. At home, I laid down with a heating pad and watched Netflix. I then took Tylenol again at 2pm and that helped a lot with the cramping. I was able to getup around 3:30 and spend the rest of the day relaxing at home. I changed pads and rinsed my vagina with warm water before bed. When I woke up the next day I had no cramping, just a bit of spotting. By noon the spotting was over. My breasts had also completely lost their taut, pregnant feeling overnight, and I had no nausea or stomach sensitivity.
I was actually surprised by how quick and relatively painless the whole thing had been. Like I said before, from what I’ve read medical abortion takes a long time, and is painful, and you are alone or with a friend who has no medical training, plus there’s a possibility of you looking in the toilet. When you have a surgical abortion, you have trained medical staff helping you every step of the way, checking in, taking your blood pressure, and the equipment has a cover on it. I only saw a tiny bit of blood in the wash sink as they were cleaning the equipment. I would strongly recommend surgical abortion for anyone.
I wanted to share this experience with everyone because before my abortion I felt very nervous. I only slept 3 hours the night before. I came to this website trying to make up my mind about a lot of things. I am lucky, I know, to have no doubts or regrets about the decision, and to have experienced extremely little pain or bleeding. However, once I went through the door to Planned Parenthood, I felt nothing but support and understanding and safety from the incredible community of women who run this organization. I am grateful to have had as positive an experience as I could have, and I hope that my story will assuage some of your anxiety or answer some of your questions.