Medical (pill) abortion that I managed myself
I had my abortion or got my abortion pills from Planned Parenthood
When did you discover you were pregnant?
When I was about 6 1/2 weeks pregnant
What was the very first thought in your mind when that pregnancy test was positive?
I was taken aback, I really didn't expect the pregnancy test to be positive. It surprised me but I started planning to get an abortion right away. I made an abortion plan before I considered any other options.
Describe how you felt in the days after you realized you were pregnant.
Really good. It felt good and special to be pregnant. It felt like my body was magical and useful and creating something beautiful. I also felt really nauseous.
What factors did you consider when making a choice?
Mostly money. I am in last year of my undergraduate degree, and my partner is as well. In the next year we will likely move to another city, have to find new housing, and new jobs. I didn't think we could afford any more people. I know that when I choose to have a child I will have a great support system with my family and friends, but now didn't feel like the right time to ask for so much support. I want the people I birth to have the best opportunity to have everything they need, and I didn't feel like I would be able to cultivate that space for them in the time before their birth.
Who was the most supportive or helpful person or resource during your choice-making process?
My partner was the only one I told about the pregnancy before I got the abortion. I didn't tell him I was pregnant until after I had scheduled an abortion. I think he felt a little hurt that I didn't tell him right away, or include him in the decision to schedule the abortion. He was really supportive, and asked me frequently how I was feeling. I think I assumed for him that the choice would be pretty simple; if it were his choice he would have chosen an abortion, so in the moment it didn't feel super important to include him. Later he told me that he felt a gut reaction of wanting to honor and cultivate what we had created, which felt good to hear because it was also definitely an instinct that I felt as well. I cried a lot in the days leading up to the abortion, cried on the way to the abortion, and in the doctor's office (my partner drove me but did not come into the appointment with me), and on the way home from the appointment. I cried a lot at home after I took the abortion pill, and my partner tried to make me as comfortable as possible as I passed the pregnancy. It felt hard, and when my body was cramping and when I was in a lot of pain, both physically and emotionally, it didn't feel like he could really understand, but I was and am grateful that he was there and that he tried to understand.
Who was the most supportive or helpful person in your life during and after your abortion?
After my abortion I told my sister, and a week later I told one of my friends. It felt really relieving to tell my sister, and she was incredibly supportive. My partner is the person who I have talked to the most about it, before, during, and after the process and I think we will continue to talk about it. I think that this choice really felt like it had impacts on our future, and has lead us to conversations about when we would be ready for a pregnancy, which felt important to me, but I think maybe a little scary to him
Describe your overall abortion experience using three words:
Heartbreaking, important, affirming
Please Describe your abortion experience.
My abortion experience spanned two days. I learned that I was pregnant at the beginning of the week, and scheduled an appointment at a Planned Parenthood for that Thursday. I had been feeling nauseous for a week or two and couldn't figure out why until I took the pregnancy test. I ordered the pregnancy test with other groceries from the store and tried to take it out of the bag so my roommate wouldn't see. She did see and teased me for getting the test and for trying to hide it.
I was so worried about the $700 cost of the abortion, especially because on my insurance's website they said it wouldn't be covered. A day before my appointment someone from Planned Parenthood called to tell me that my insurance would cover it in full. My partner drove me to the Planned Parenthood for my appointment at 10:20am. We had to wait outside for a COVID screening phone call. It was a hassle because my phone was broken so I borrowed his phone. Once he left I would have had no way to contact him once my appointment was finished. We set a time for him to come back and I went in to my appointment. The staff were all really kind and considerate. The doctor came in with the ultrasound machine and asked my if I wanted to see the images. I said no, that I didn't really care, and I did not see them. The doctor performing the ultrasound told me that there were two fetuses. I really wished my partner were there to talk about that information with. It definitely felt like it changed things for me. Not really anything about having two fetuses inside of me, but the detail about them made it feel so much more real. There were twins inside of me, it felt really special and unique. The doctor asked me if that changed anything for me and I said no. She told me that I was 7 weeks pregnant and could use the pills for my abortion. I said that that is what I wanted.
The doctor left and a nurse brought in a tiny dvd player with a video that described the abortion process. She left me alone to watch it and I started crying almost as soon as she closed the door. I really wished I had a way to tell my partner about the 2 fetuses. I wanted to know if it changed anything for him. But I couldn't. And I just cried through the whole video and then tried to compose myself for when the doctor would come back in. My face was definitely still visibly red and puffy but I figured the doctors and nurses had seen it before. The doctor came back in with the pills and asked me if I was ready to take the first one. I really thought about asking if I could just take them both home with me and take them later, but I didn't and I said yes and took the first pill in the office. The first pill stops hormones from going to the pregnancy and can cause bad problems if the abortion is not completed afterwards. The choice felt permanent as soon as I took that pill. The doctor and I talked about the next pills, what to do, where to put them, and what would happen, and made a plan of when to take the pills, after my meetings the next day. I felt lucky that the next day was a friday and I only had 2 meetings in the morning, so had plenty of free time to be in pain and bleeding. I my partner in the parking lot and we drove home. I told him about there being two fetuses, and how that felt, and we talked about his feelings as well. I cried again on the drive home. I cried more at home and generally avoided my housemates. The next day I woke up and threw up for the first time in my pregnancy. I went to my first meeting, then took the anti-nausea pills that are often prescribed alongside misoprostol. I asked my partner to pick me up maxi pads from the store. I went to my second meeting, in which my teacher revealed that she was 8 1/2 months pregnant, something she had not told any students before that point. After this meeting I put the misoprostol pills between my gums and my lips and let them dissolve there. It took maybe 30-45 minutes before I started bleeding, and a little longer before I started cramping. I ran a bath, and sat on the toilet for a long time. It hurt more than I expected it to. A really large clump of blood fell out into the toilet really early on in the cramping and I assumed that that was the fetuses. I felt sad that I couldn't really see it but flushed it. The pain really lasted for an hour and a half, maybe two, and then mostly subsided. There was a lot of blood, but being in a warm bath near the toilet helped. I took a towel and sat naked in my room, bleeding, for several more hours. Maybe 4 or 5 hours in another larger clump fell out, that was identifiably the fetuses. I felt grateful to be able to see them and put them in a tin to bury later. I was surprised by how much blood there was.
I bled for nearly 2 weeks afterwards.
I expected my partner and my healthcare providers to support my choices. I expected myself to be more torn than I was. While it felt like a difficult decision, I made the decision to have an abortion more assuredly than I expected to. I expected to be sad, and I expected my partner to be sad. I didn't tell many of my friends because I expected them to tease me about getting pregnant, and not being responsible with birth control.
My feelings were all over the place. I felt really happy to be pregnant, and sad that I felt like I couldn't continue my pregnancy. I felt frustrated that money really seemed to be the deciding factor. I felt happy and privileged that abortion care was so easy to access. My heart felt really full and warm when I thought about my body and my uterus. I also felt confident in my choice and my control over my body. I felt incredulous and frustrated thinking about other people who were or will be in my position and who didn't or won't have the same easy access of choices. The abortion was really painful, and my body felt horrible for a while. Throughout the process of my uterus contracting, I felt strong and weak and joyful and heartbroken in waves and all at once and over and over again. I felt and still feel deeply sad. And I am happy that I feel sad. I also feel empowered, and in charge of my body.
After the abortion I felt relieved and also completely heartbroken. It felt so sad. and also good. It was and still is, a huge and wild mix of emotions, and it feels good that it is that way. Pregnancy and birth feel magical and complicated to me, and I am glad that my abortion felt the same way. I am glad that I was able to have an abortion at home, and a week after my abortion my partner and I buried the fetuses. I am incredibly grateful that we were able to add some sort of closure to the experience in that way.
I think I was most worried about people feeling like I was irresponsible for getting pregnant, and I definitely did not feel that from the healthcare providers. They were kind and understanding and made me feel safe and welcome and like abortion was a normal thing. My partner I think shared my sadness in some ways, and also felt relieved when the abortion was over. I think he felt scared to see me in so much pain when my uterus was cramping and felt pretty powerless. I think he also felt in some ways separate from the process. I think more than anything this was something that involved the both of us, but also had to do with my body. I think he felt confused and a little sad that I didn't let him know right away, or let him be part of the whole decision process. This feels hard for me. I am not sure what my goals are, and I think that I am willing to have them be flexible when it comes to family planning. I think that I want to be able to care for my children, completely and entirely, and be set up as best as I can to do that, and I didn't feel like now was a time in which that was possible. I do want to be pregnant and have children, it feels so important to me, but now did not feel like the right time.
I felt like my choices were having an abortion or taking care of these children. I didn't feel like I was in the right space, or in the right time or place to take care of children.
I feel sad, and happy, my feelings I think have become less intense with time and space from the abortion but they all still feel present.
What have you learned about yourself and others as a result of this experience and the way you feel about it?
I don't think I will get an abortion again. This experience felt like the right choice, and I definitely do not regret my decision. But I think this experience will make me ready to make a different choice the next time I get pregnant. I am not sure that my partner feels the same way. But I think we know how to communicate and can talk about next steps.
What would your expectations be now?
To care for myself, to communicate with my partner. To take the time to make the decision that feels right for me and my family.
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 don't know. I think this question feels scary, and like an easy way to feel guilty. I think the decision I made was the right one. But I also think if I went back in time I might make a different decision. And if I did then I think that decision would be the right one.
In what ways has your abortion experience changed you?
I understand my body better. I feel connected to my partner in a different way.
What have you learned about your ability to make choices?
My body feels more my own. I feel a strong autonomy. And I also feel a need to be more inclusive of my partner in my decision making
Will you make the same choices in the future?
I don't think so, but it feels hard to know.
I changed my priorities about what is important in life.
I have a greater appreciation for the value of my own life.
I have developed new interests.
I have a greater feeling of self-reliance.
I have a better understanding of my spiritual beliefs.
I more clearly see who I can count on in times of trouble.
I have a greater sense of closeness with others.
I know that I can handle difficulties.
I have more compassion for others.
I discovered that I’m stronger than I thought I was.
I learned a great deal about how wonderful people are.