Well, it’s all over and I’m breathing a gigantic sigh of relief. Last Tuesday I went to Planned Parenthood for the first of 4 visits in an effort to end this pregnancy. The first thing that struck me when I walked through the doors on Tuesday morning was the security. I was first buzzed into an ‘antechamber’, a small room that led to the waiting room. It was concrete and sported a large bulletproof glass window (at least I’m assuming that it’s bulletproof because it had wire zigzagging through it). On the other side of the window sat a nurse who pushed a drawer to me from the other side. Inside the drawer was a sign in sheet where I had to write my name and the purpose of my visit on. Security cameras watched my every move.
I signed in and the nurse retrieved the drawer with a little lever on the inside. Dubhe and I were then buzzed through the security doors and allowed into the next antechamber. This next room was also utilitarian. Indeed, it could be described as depressing. Chairs lined the room and there were no magazines or reading material. Another large bulletproof window lined the wall where the nurses stood behind the glass looking through it to the people waiting on the other side.
There was another metal tray which the nurse pushed through the wall to me as she said something through a microphone. I couldn’t hear her at all, but saw a clipboard in the tray which asked for my medical history. I filled everything out and sat back down nervously. Three other women were in the room with me as well as Dubhe. Dubhe was the only man present and I will note that he was the only man present for all of the visits except for the one on Friday.
We waited another 15 minutes or so after I filled out my paperwork and I had enough time to take a good look around me. Behind the bulletproof glass was a series of security cameras which took in every angle on the parking lot and the security room I had originally passed through. The room I was waiting in now had no windows save for a small rectangular one near the ceiling; it too was covered in bulletproof glass. It’s safe to say that I was very aware of the security measures that were in place. A few minutes later the door opened and I was ushered into the next room.
This next room was completely different from the other rooms I had thus far seen. Where the others were obviously designed for security this back room was set up more like a ‘normal’ doctor’s office. A small waiting room was at the center and a short coffee table sat between several chairs, magazines graced the top of the coffee table.
Dubhe and I went back and I submitted a urine sample. On that first visit they did a vaginal ultrasound to confirm the age of the fetus, as we had suspected it traced back to the condom breaking on September 15th. The pregnancy was at 6 weeks, but the gestational age was at 4 weeks (the pregnancy date is from the first day of your last period, not from the date of suspected implantation so the pregnancy date was approximately two weeks older than the actual age of the fetus). The nurse who performed the ultrasound was very gentle and very, very kind. In fact, she put me at ease almost immediately and I didn’t do that ‘freeze-up-and-clamp-down’ thing that I do during almost every exam of that sort I’ve ever had.
She asked if I wanted to know if she saw multiple fetuses to which I nervously responded, “No way! I can’t take care of one, two of them won’t change my mind” she laughed as well and proceeded with the ultrasound.
After that I had some blood work taken by another nurse who was very adept at finding the vein on the first try then Dubhe and I went into another room to listen to the counseling session. The nurse who counseled with us gave us our options and I explained that I was interested in the Mifepristone rather than the surgical abortion. We discussed the pros and cons of all the procedures. She asked me a few times if I was sure that this was what I wanted and I vehemently said “Yes!” I explained the nightmare I’d experienced thus far and she was clearly frustrated by the roadblocks I had experienced.
I had to listen to a recording by the doctor before being released and having another appointment scheduled for the following day.
The next appointment was a short counseling session with the doctor who was exceptionally friendly and sweet. We talked a bit and she explained that there was a 24 hour waiting period during which I’m supposed to ‘think it over’, she then explained that by law she had to tell me that. I responded by laughing and saying, “Yeah sure, as if I’ve thought about anything else since I found out I was pregnant”.
This caused her to laugh heartily for a few moments and she rolled her eyes and said, “I know, every woman who comes in here has spent way too much time already thinking about it.” After about 15 minutes with the doctor I was released again and yet another appointment was made for Friday. It was then that I’d get the pills. I was told that on Friday Dubhe could not accompany me into the back for the pills and so forth, I assume that this was yet another security measure and so we smiled and signed the consent forms and so forth and we were released again.
Friday morning I went back, I was warned of the possibility of protestors on Friday and had to sign an acknowledgement of this when I left on Wednesday. We pulled into Planned Parenthood at 8:00 a.m. on a rainy, cold day. Apparently protestors love life except for when they have to get wet while loving it. The parking lot was empty, and I smiled happily to myself while chuckling over how a little bit of rain and cold kept them away like the plague.
We entered and I hugged Dubhe and left him in the waiting second antechamber while I went into the waiting room. I was given the first dose of medication, Mifeprex, which served to make the pregnancy unviable. I was given FAQ sheets by the bunches as well as instructions for how to use the remaining medication.
I was given Doxycycline (an antibiotic) to take for 7 days to prevent infection as well as a bottle of anti nausea medication, 4 tablets of Misoprostol and an Rx for Tylenol with Codeine. I was told that there would be few, if any, noticeable side effects from this first dose of medication. I was instructed to take the Misoprostol the following morning to begin the process of expelling the fetus which would already be unviable by the time the expulsion began.
Dubhe and I spent a nervous night on Friday. My mother had come up to help us through this entire process and we chatted lightly about how awful it was that the place was virtually Fort Knox. She recounted stories about the pre-Roe days and told me how my aunt nearly died from an illegal abortion. We discussed politics surrounding abortion and my mother nearly choked on her tea when she read the hate mail I have received over all of this. She was almost in tears as she shook her head in confusion that so many would wish her daughter death for the crime of having sex.
She was offended that others would seek to condemn me so readily, of course, my mother is fully aware of my health problems as well and looked at me with tears welling up in her eyes as she said, “BB, you could die if you had a baby? Why would perfect strangers want you to die?”
This launched a long discussion about feminism, misogyny and punishment through forced childbearing.
The next morning (Saturday) I awoke from a restless sleep and began the morning regime. I had been instructed to take another antibiotic in the morning, followed an hour and a half later by the anti-nausea medication, a half hour after that I was to take the 4 tablets of Misoprostol and place them between my cheek and gum and allow them to dissolve.
Around 11:00 am I put the Misoprostol in my mouth and waited for it to dissolve. I began to bleed at 1:00 pm though the cramping began long before that. Indeed, I was cramping before the tablets were completely dissolved.
The cramps were severe and I was very glad for the Codeine, although it put me a bit out of sorts and groggy which wasn’t exactly what I wanted either. Despite the pain I wanted to continue to move around, my mother is a nurse and she backed up everything I had been told about laying prone. I had been advised at Planned Parenthood that walking around a bit would help the process move faster and would also result in smaller clots.
My mother and Dubhe monitored my temperature and Dubhe talked to me when the cramping became severe. In some ways it felt much like labor, although not as brutal as laboring with a full term pregnancy. It was painful but it came and went, sometimes it hurt pretty badly and then it would kind of fade away for a little bit.
At 1:45 I passed a large blood clot. It was about the size of a ping-pong ball although that’s a rough guess since I didn’t actually see it. It fell down into the bottom/back of the commode and was lost from view before I could even see it. The clots became a bit unnerving, not because I was worried about life or because I felt guilt or anything like that but because, well, passing large blood clots is bound to be unnerving to anyone *smile*. However, after the first large one there were no other huge ones.
I cramped for quite awhile and passed clots ranging from pea sized up to ping pong ball sized although none compared to the first one. Gradually the cramping eased and I was able to sleep for a bit while Dubhe ran to get us some take out. All in all most of it was over by about 4:30 pm and while I had a few pretty bad cramps after that time they became steadily lighter. I dosed up again with Codeine before bed and slept like a rock.
Overall the cramping was much stronger than I expected and it even surprised me at times with its intensity. For me, the cramps were far worse than the cramps associated with a normal period. The bleeding was lighter than I expected and the clots were more numerous, although smaller than I had expected. Sunday I was exhausted all day, my body ached, particularly my lower abdomen where my uterus is. I passed a few more clots on Sunday but the cramping was gone and the clots were about the size you would get with an average period. The bleeding had quieted quite a bit although I was told that this could vary from woman to woman.
My mother made sure I was ok in the morning and then she left to get back to my father. I was glad for her presence.
Dubhe and I spent the day chatting and hanging out on Sunday and I hugged each of my children who were all aware of what was happening with mom. They all told me they loved me and they were glad that I was ok.
I’m not supposed to ride the horses for a few weeks or engage in any heavy lifting which will be tough not to do since I’m very active however I’m still pretty tired today though the soreness in my belly has subsided quite a bit. I feel no guilt at all and there has been no ‘buyer’s remorse’ as it were. From the beginning of this, for a multitude of reasons, I knew I could not and did not want a pregnancy. The process was tough on my body and involved some pain but it was well worth it.
In January Dubhe will be eligible for his health insurance to cover a vasectomy; we’re looking forward to that with great anticipation. Overall, this has been a learning experience for both of us and I can quite safely say, with complete sincerity, that anyone who says, “Women use abortion for birth control” has never, EVER had an abortion.
That notion was dispelled for the complete idiocy it is within a half hour of the cramps starting. It’s likely that having been through this procedure myself I will personally wring the neck of anyone who is stupid enough to suggest that particular fallacy around me ever again. I can firmly say that I do not believe that any woman uses the equivalent of a jackhammer to the guts followed by bleeding and clotting as well as no intercourse and ‘light duty’ for several weeks as birth control. The notion is completely absurd and it’s disgusting to me that the forced birth movement has tainted abortion so much that a generally held belief is that you can have one and it’s just like taking a pill or slipping on a condom.
Now, however, I’m tired so I’m going to close this post but I’ll apologize first for the typos. I haven’t spellchecked this and I don’t intend to.