I never imagined that I would need an abortion... but I did, and I'm glad I was able to make that choice.
I suffer an auto-immune disease that makes me nearly infertile and never expected to become pregnant. My history of missed implantations (very early miscarriage) and previous failure to attain pregnancy when desired had given me the false impression that I wouldn't get pregnant with a viable fetus. So, foolishly, despite knowing that my health couldn't safely support a pregnancy and that my medications would be harmful to a fetus, I made the unwise choice to discontinue using Depo-Provera, due to unpleasant side effects. At the time I became pregnant, I had not used birth control for over 3 years... so you can see, I'm not a "Fertile Myrtle."
Once I realized I was pregnant, I was in the 6th week after my last menstrual period. As an amateur herbalist, I had knowledge of abortifacient and emmenagogue herbs, but knew that my illness severely limited those that I was safely able to take. Knowing that this pregnancy must end, I decided to first try to abort using herbal methods. Failing that, I would opt for a surgical abortion, which I deeply feared.
For 6 days I took the maximum recommended doses of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) -- 12,000 per day; on days 5 and 6 I added parsley tea and pessaries. I did have significant cramping and one episode of bleeding, but the herbs were not enough to interrupt the already well established pregnancy. Because of my false sense of "security" coupled with my irregular cycles, I failed to suspect my pregnancy earlier -- had I done so, I may have had better results using this method.
The day following my 6th day of attempting the herbal abortion, I contacted a NAF certified abortion provider to arrange for a surgical abortion. I briefly considered a medical abortion, but was not a candidate due to my medical issues. Truth told, after learning a bit more about that process, I believe I would have chosen the surgical even if it had been offered -- I was ready to end the pregnancy and move on.
The clinic staff asked the necessary questions, but were not judgmental or invasive in any way. No one asked if was using contraception or why I wanted the abortion. It was just assumed that the abortion was my right and I knew my own mind well enough to make the choice.
I waited four long days for my appointment -- nerve-wracking -- not because I was having second thoughts, but because I just wanted the pregnancy over.
I chose to go to the clinic alone, as I felt I could better deal with my emotions alone. Like a wounded animal, I have always preferred to "lick my wounds" alone. I do not believe that pain shared is pain divided... Since I would be driving myself, I wouldn't be eligible for any type of sedation. Instead, I would receive 10 mg Valium to calm any anxiety I may feel and 800 mg Ibuprofen, to manage pain associated with cramping and dilation. Also, my cervix would be numbed with an injection of a drug similar to lidocaine.
When I arrived at the clinic, I felt very vulnerable crossing the parking lot to enter the building. I live in a peaceful, accepting city, but thoughts of random "pro-life" nut-cases did come to mind. I had never appreciated the bravery it must take for the doctors and employees of these clinics to daily face the threat of violence for providing women with their legal right to abortion.
The clinic staff was helpful and efficient, although the wait for my appointment was painfully long. It was obvious those among us who were there to receive abortions that day -- a few of us whispered our stories amongst ourselves. Nearly all of us were mothers already, and the consensus was the choice to not continue another pregnancy was as much for the good of our children as for ourselves. Whether for economic reasons, the need to continue an education, or as in my case, necessitated by health, the overwhelming sentiment was that as much as we loved motherhood, we knew we could be better mothers by not bringing another child into our lives at this time. To those other women, I say Namaste -- blessings on you, brave souls.
I was given an ultrasound and my pregnancy was confirmed at 7 weeks, 2 days, which fit my calculations to the date. After a routine health screening, I was given the Valium and Ibuprofen and taken to the procedure room. A nurse was present as my support person, she offered to hold my hand, but I declined. She advised me to practice deep breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth and assured me I should speak up if I was experiencing pain beyond my tolerance. The doctor only briefly introduced himself -- no chitchat, which I appreciated. He looked a bit surprised when I said, "Thank you, for the work you do."
I laid back on the table, and the doctor quickly palpated my uterus and did a routine pelvic exam. He then explained that he was going to give me the injection to numb my cervix and that it may hurt a bit. I believe I received 3 injections total, and they were only mildly uncomfortable. Then he proceeded to being dilating my cervix, which was uncomfortable, but not painful. The aspiration machine was started and I was relieved to hear that it was not as garishly loud as some have previously said. Once the suction began, I did experience some considerable cramping. I closed my eyes and concentrated on deep breathing and remaining calm. It was over in under 3 minutes. I would estimate the entire procedure took less than 10 minutes from the time I entered the procedure room -- the actual abortion itself, approximately five. Of those five minutes, I felt less than 1 minute of pain greater than discomfort. Using a rating of 0 to 10, with 0 being no pain and 10 being the worst pain I have ever felt, I would say the most painful part of the procedure was a 2, tops.
I was then escorted to a recovery area, given a heating pad and a comfortable recliner to rest in. I was offered clear soda and some saltine crackers. I felt quite shaky the first few minutes, but that quickly subsided. A kind nurse checked my vital signs and asked how I was feeling. I had some cramping, but nothing stronger than a moderate menstrual cramp. After drinking and eating a bit, I was sent to the restroom to check my degree of bleeding. I reported there was no blood on my sanitary pad and minimal blood when I wiped. I was advised that I may experience anything from a flow like a heavy period to almost no bleeding at all, and that the spectrum varied from woman to woman. I was given aftercare directions, antibiotics, a follow-up appointment for 2 weeks and an injection of Depo-Provera.
After about 15 minutes, I experimented with walking around the room to get a feel for my readiness to drive home. I stated I felt ready and the nurse suggested that I get a bite to eat before traveling the hour back home. Oddly enough, despite the experience, I was hungry and had no trouble eating a small meal. After doing so, I felt stronger and completely clear-headed.
When I arrived home, my husband greeted me with a look of concern and a bouquet of flowers. I did have an episode of crying as I explained the procedure to my husband. He expressed regret at not having been there, but knows that I had felt the need to be alone. It was the right choice for me. I drank a glass of ice water to re hydrate myself and he prepared me another light snack. I took my antibiotic and rested a bit on the couch with a heating pad on my abdomen. I have had virtually no bleeding and minimal cramping. I am already experiencing a cessation of my pregnancy symptoms such as nausea and fatigue and my procedure took place less than 6 hours ago. I am feeling quite well and grateful that I had the choice to safely end an unsafe pregnancy.
I hope my story helps those of you who are unsuccessful in your attempts to abort using herbs. A surgical abortion is not nearly as scary or painful as it is often made out to be. The week that I spent attempting to abort on my own was far more stressful for me emotionally. True, the expense is considerable, but funding and assistance is available for women with limited resources.
Good Luck, Love, Blessings and Light,
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