My experience with medical and surgical abortion

Note: The Exhale Pro-Voice After-Abortion Stories Hub includes people’s stories of their experiences and emotions, exactly as they have written them in. We do not edit these stories at all, and the content that follows this message is exactly as we received it. We know that people’s experiences are complex, and these stories reflect the many emotions they may be feeling after their abortions. From relief to grief, and everything in between, and all at the same time, we’re here for you.

Submitted by: Girl amongst the trees

At the age of 30 I experienced my first abortion. I was married but just arrived in a new city with a new job and this was completely unexpected. We both agreed the pregnancy could not be kept at this time, and were both very comfortable with the decision.

I was only 5 or 6 weeks along, so a medical abortion was chosen. I had never been to a Planned Parenthood clinic but was completely at ease once meeting the staff. The nurses, doctors and front desk were all very welcoming and kind. They are very thorough with their questions on your medical history as well as making sure you feel comfortable being there and are not being coerced into something you do not want. They did an ultrasound to verify I was actually pregnant and verify the age. You are not forced to look at the screen or know the age so it’s all up to you.

I took the first pill and went home with the second. Once taking the pill it was almost an hour until I felt something, and it was only after I went on a walk the cramps really hit hard. I do not normally have bad cramps so this was definitely worse than normal, but not unbearable. As soon as I got home from my walk and went to the bathroom it seemed to all happen at once. Gravity did its job and I felt like the main order of the day was done within 5 minutes, which actually was comforting. Cramps continued for a few more days and I did continue to bleed lightly for maybe two weeks. The pain medication helped greatly and didn’t put me to sleep, so I was able to go to work as normal. I went back for a follow up visit 2 weeks later and all was well.

My second experience was a few years later when I was too far along to get a medical abortion. I was not too concerned about being afraid or scared since I had a good experience the first time. Once arriving they were quite backed up so it took 45 minutes to be seen, but once I was brought back again the staff was just so nice and comforting. The first nurses went through all my medical history, took some blood and then a 2nd team came in for the ultrasound to verify the age. Again they do not make you look at the screen or give you any information you do not want.

Once that was over another nurse came in to provide Ibuprofen, something to prevent infection and offered anti-anxiety medication that I did not decide to take. I also had to take something to soften my cervix, so I had to wait another 45 minutes for it to work before I could have the procedure. The hardest part was waiting, especially since my ride was waiting for me as well. I could have driven myself but wasn’t sure what medication I would choose until I arrived. Once the procedure started there was some pressure pain due to the tools used to open the cervix but not unbearable. The nurse standing next to me was very supportive and tried to distract me as much as possible. I really appreciated her keeping me calm.

They assured me everything was going fine and I was almost done. I think I had a doctor trainee which didn’t bother me, however I could overhear them and it sounded like they weren’t sure they got everything. They then did an ultrasound to verify all was well and decided they should go back in and make sure everything was clear as they were unsure. Again they asked if this was okay and I agreed since I would rather be safe than sorry. They started up again and cramping did get worst but still not bad, just random pinching. After two more ultrasounds to make sure all was well, which made me feel better, I did start to bleed which they seemed a little concerned about, but the doctor clearly knew what she was doing and made sure everything was slowing down before letting me dress and go to the rest area.

I then had to sit for 20 minutes and have some snacks and use the bathroom to make sure my bleeding was under control. I did not feel a lot of cramping, a 5 out of 10 maybe. They let me go and I rode the 30 minutes to get home and felt fine. Once I got home I put up my feet and relaxed with a heating pad. The cramps came and went but were not consistently bad. I was still bleeding but nothing excessive. I feel like while the surgical procedure was more painful at the moment, overall it took less time and was better in my opinion that I didn’t have to wait and watch the process happen by myself and hope it all came out okay at the 2 week check up. I feel the doctors were very precise and did all they could to make sure everything was fine before I left. Surgical definitely took longer (I was there 4 hours total) but I don’t feel like everyone would have that experience.

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