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I am very self-aware and strong.

Surgical (aspiration) abortion in the first trimester I had my abortion or got my abortion pills from a local hospital or independent health clinic

When did you discover you were pregnant? When I missed my period and had tender breasts for a prolonged amount of time

What was the very first thought in your mind when that pregnancy test was positive? I cannot do this. I do not want a child right now.

Describe how you felt in the days after you realized you were pregnant. I was torn, I wanted to have a family one day, but I didn't want it to begin that early in my adult life. Each day before my abortion I would change my mind and express different feelings. It was confusing.

What factors did you consider when making a choice? My current work/financial situation. My future fertility - if I were not able to have babies in the future if this would be something that I would look back upon negatively.

What is the nature of your relationship with the person who got you pregnant? In partnership

Who was the most supportive or helpful person or resource during your choice-making process? My partner who ended up being my spouse later on in life.

Who was the most supportive or helpful person in your life during and after your abortion? My partner who ended up being my spouse later on in life. After the abortion and throughout the years, sharing my experience and hearing others' experiences was very supportive.

Describe your overall abortion experience: Shocking. Uncomfortable. Relieved.

I had to make several phone calls to help decide what type of abortion I would get. At the time, the oral medication abortion was not available in Canada, just methotrexate which was a series of injections that was drawn out over days and weeks. I decided to have a surgical abortion at a hospital-based community clinic. To prepare I wore a comfy dress and cozy sweater. I brought my own snacks and drinks. My partner was able to join me, we drove to the clinic together. My partner was able to be with me throughout the entire process, with the exception to part of the counseling to ensure that he was welcome and that I was not being coerced into anything. The first step was blood work. I have a history of passing out with blood draws and warned the staff member of this. I think she was new and didn't know that this was a true possibility. She blew my first vein. Went onto the next, I felt nauseous and light headed - I ended up passing out, luckily my partner was there to catch me and help me to the ground. There was blood everywhere, which was annoying - but I mostly felt bad for the worker because I know she felt horrible, needless to say I taught her to listen to the patient! I got some apple juice and a blanket and laid on the floor a little longer. I met with a nurse who discussed the procedure and medications with me. This facility didn't use any IV pain meds - I was given an ativan and a tylenol 3. I was nervous about the ativan, I have never taken it and didn't want to be 'loopy'. I took both meds and waited in a small room with my partner and two other women. I was called into the procedure room, my partner was allowed to attend with me which I have now learned is not common practice in other facilities. The doctor made small talk, learned of where I worked and asked if we were hiring (this was inappropriate), a speculum went in - not the worst, then the procedure - I did not pay attention to the steps all I knew was that I was extremely uncomfortable. The nurse tried to comfort me in a detached kind of way, while still trying to do her work. The thing that stands out was that I kept saying "I do not like this. This is not fun. This is very uncomfortable." I don't recall how I was actually acting/reacting because of the ativan likely. I kept saying "This is not fun." because for some reason I went to a place in my head where anti-abortion folks say people just get abortions left-right-and-center as if it's nothing. I knew I was not doing this for fun. I asked to see the tissue that was removed. I found it fascinating, it was feathery. I appreciated seeing the tissue. I waited in the recovery room for half an hour or so, had some bleeding just like a light period. My partner and I got take out and went home to watch TV and rest. My partner had a sweet care package made up for me full of nice snacks. Lots of cuddles and naps were had. I ended up going to a job interview the next day and getting it!

What were your expectations of yourself and others? I expected less support from my family - I imagined they would be neutral or negative, but they were very supportive. I was disappointed with how casual the doctor was with me. My partner was very supportive as well.

describe your feelings at the time you had your abortion. I felt relief after the abortion, but I found it quite distressing and painful - I did expect better pain management which I later learned is not routine across clinics (many give IV pain meds, this one didn't).

What about after the abortion? Did your feelings change? What was happening that made you feel this way? I was grateful for the people who supported me.

What about the feelings of others? While you might not know exactly what they were feeling, can you explain what you think they might have been feeling? Was your partner nervous or scared? Was the care provider frustrated, exhausted, busy? Explain why you think they may have been feeling this. My partner was surprised with my back and forth decision making in the days leading up to the abortion. I felt that at some points he was shocked that I would change my mind when we had a serious and open conversation just the day before - whether it was to have the abortion or to start a family. I could tell he was very stressed out when I would express the potential of having a baby - reasonably so. The nurse who was in the procedure room with me seemed to not be phased by my experience/discomfort which at the time was invalidating, but understandable now as I am a nurse and see people in pain all the time (you become desensitized to it in some way even if you never want to be). The doctor seemed very informal and not as professional as I would have expected.

In what way did the choices you made meet your goals for yourself? Do you think the choices you made were aligned with your goals or were they different? They were aligned with my goals in relation to my general timeline and preferences for life events.

What other choices were available to you and why do you think you did not choose them? I could have had a medication abortion with methotrexate - I didn't want a prolonged experience of multiple injections and series of blood work. Could have gone to another clinic, which could have been a better option re pain management. I went with the most popular location that I was aware of. Could have started a family - was not an appropriate time. I could have put a baby up for adoption, but I would never do this.

What do you feel now, looking back on the event? If your feelings have changed, how have they changed and why do you think that is? I wish I did more research into pain management. But I'm grateful I was at the only clinic in town that allowed partners through each experience.

What have you learned about yourself and others as a result of this experience and the way you feel about it? I learned that I am very self-aware and strong.

What would your expectations be now? They would be similar.

If you were able to go back in time, what would you do differently? What different choices would you make or different actions you would take? I would have better pain management. I would go to a different clinic perhaps. I would take more time to myself to truly process before/after the abortion. It was a very quick series of events, though at the time it felt like forever - leading up to it at least.

In what ways has your abortion experience changed you? Made me more open to talk to others about my experience. To have confidence in myself that I know what is best for me and my family.

My abortion experience has reinforced my certainty that I am on the right path for me

What have you learned about your ability to make choices? It can be hard sometimes!

Will you make the same choices in the future? What will you do differently? In what ways will you stay the same? Yes, I have not changed my thoughts/path since!

I know that I can handle difficulties.

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I practically skipped out the door. I was overjoyed to no longer be pregnant and oh so relieved.


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