The worst thing about an unwanted pregnancy is that despite the fact that you make the decision to terminate and process it mentally and emotionally, your body doesn’t understand this and instead continues along as if you are thrilled with the news.
When I took the test, five days after my period was due, I did so because I was convinced that the test would show negative and I could stop stressing needlessly. It only took moments for the two pink lines to appear and announce that I was pregnant. I knew who it was straight away – I had only slept with one person, on one occasion, in the past few months and they were out of the picture; this was my decision, and mine alone, to make. Even before the two lines appeared I knew what my decision would be – I’ve never wanted children (hell, I don’t even like other people’s children), I’m single, barely able to look after myself and only two days previous had made the decision to move countries at the start of next year to further my career.
Although I am lucky enough to live in a country where abortion is legal and accessible, going through the public health system would take weeks. I was even luckier to be in a position to have the procedure done privately.
Despite being only four weeks pregnant, I was already suffering horrendous morning sickness – I was constantly nauseous, everything smelt disgusting and my boobs hurt whenever I moved. Mentally and emotionally I was comfortable with my decision but my body constantly betrayed me, reminding me of what was going on and the situation I had got myself in to. Going privately was not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, but waiting another four weeks to go through the public system would mean another four weeks of feeling like death and trying to hide it from my family and co-workers. Nine days (from positive test to the procedure) was miserable, four weeks would have been an unbearable.
When I arrived at the clinic on the day of the procedure I was signed in and settled into a private room where the charge nurse came and interviewed me. She was kind and understanding, and although I had to justify my decision (to satisfy the legal requirements of a termination) I never felt judged or pressured. Once she had taken my medical history, explained the procedure and recovery, I was free for an hour before meeting with the consulting doctor.
I left the clinic and walked the city. When I returned I was taken to meet the first of two doctors; the doctor asked me the same questions as the nurse – why had I made the decision to terminate, did I have any doubts, was I aware of what the procedure entailed. After signing off her consent for the procedure to go ahead (again to satisfy legal requirements) I was taken to see the second doctor. This was also the doctor who would perform the operation and while she questioned me a nurse inserted a needle into my arm. Satisfied with my answers, the doctor once again asked if I had any hesitations (no) and had me take three pills – a sedative to calm and relax and two pills which would help soften the cervix and cause me to start bleeding. After being returned to and spending another half hour in my room, I was changed into a gown and taken theatre. The room wasn’t quite like other operating theatres – although it was bright and clean, it felt friendlier and less sterile.
By this point I was feeling light headed and woozy, the nurse helped me onto a bed and I was introduced to another nurse who put my feet in stirrups. The nurse connected the needle in my arm to a drip and I began to feel even more dozy and light headed. Once the new nurse had removed my underwear the doctor came into the room and begun. Despite the pain relief and sedative the procedure itself was uncomfortable and at times painful; the nurses and doctor talked to me and among themselves and when everything was over the nurse took me back to my room. I was dizzy and feeling ill from the anesthetic, the nurse had to help me to the bathroom to be sick because I was unable to get myself there unsupported.
After spending another hour or so in the room, I was allowed to leave.
When I was leaving the nurse explained my aftercare and told me that because I was only just on six weeks pregnant it was no more than a blood clot, less than 4mm in length. I woke up the next day, cramping and sore, but feeling positive and ready to move forward.