Roar will publish a first-person story about abortion, “My Abortion: A Daily Story,” every day for at least 365 days.
Today’s story comes from the Ask Me About My Abortion website. The story is by Julia Fawkes Stuart, and she details in a systematic way how well the entire process went for her.
The first time I became pregnant I had been with my boyfriend for 4 years, and we lived in a cute rental home in Connecticut. I was almost 25 and had a good job. So when I got pregnant there didn’t seem to be a “reason” to not have a baby.
The Decision: I sat on my bed, closed my eyes and breathed calmly, I was finally able to center myself and clear my mind (it took a few minutes to relax as I had been worrying about what to do for the whole day since I took the pee-test). Once I was reasonably calm, I asked the question to myself: “Do you want to have a child now?” The answer was so strong, and so definitive: “No.” I kept breathing and asked the question a couple of different ways, and the answer was “No.”
So for me, it was clear; my body and mind said no, and an abortion I would have. Going deep inside myself to ask the question was important to me, so going forward I had no doubts that the decision was the right one for me (and over a decade later, I can verify it WAS absolutely the best choice for me!).
How I Found A Provider: I was referred by my close friend’s uncle to a women’s health center in Westchester, though I looked at Planned Parenthood and would have gone there too (PP was more expensive and further away, plus this place was recommended by my friend’s uncle who was a doctor so it seemed like the best choice).
The Abortion: The day I went in I was about 5 weeks pregnant, so very early (which I knew—I have always had a like-clockwork period so as soon as I was late I took a pregnancy test and it came up positive). The women’s health center was busy, and I remember they played movies on a loop in the waiting room. I filled out some forms and waited, then did a pee test for them, then waited again. After another hour or so, I talked to a nurse, who explained my options to me (surgical vs. medical abortion) and talked to me about why I wanted to have the abortion. I remember that she was a nice, professional New York kind of lady, like one of my friend’s moms, but less personal than someone I knew. An ordinary sort of woman. I asked some questions about the medical abortionbecause I have always been scared of surgery and general anaesthesia, so I was thrilled to have another option.
She told me because I was so early in my pregnancy, I would be a good candidate for a medical abortion, and so I opted for that. She said that there was a possibility of having an ectopic pregnancy, and they couldn’t tell without an ultrasound, that I would need to have one of those—to make sure the pregnancy was IN my uterus so that when I took the drugs the fetus would be flushed out (the same as a miscarriage would be at that stage). There was a small danger than IF I had an ectopic pregnancy and I took the abortion drugs, it could rupture my fallopian tube. As far as I remember, you didn’t need an ultrasound to have a surgical abortion since it would be obvious where the fetus was. This made sense to me and this was in the early 2000s when the abortion pill was newer so I don’t know if this info about the ultrasound is still true or not.
So after some more waiting, I went in for the ultrasound, which was vaginal, so they could see close enough to determine that yes, the fetus was in my uterus. They didn’t suggest I look at it, as it was a diagnostic test, but I’m a science nerd so I asked to see it. Didn’t look like anything other than a lump of material, there was no definition that early or anything and it was cool to see my uterus on the inside.
After that, I was cleared, and went to see the doctor, who basically stood there while I took the first pill, which would stop any additional fetal growth (mifepristone) and get it to detach from the uterus. I didn’t feel anything at any time from taking that pill, physically. Mentally I knew I was on my way, and was so relieved. The doctor instructed me about how to insert the second pill the next day (misoprostol), what to look out for in terms of complications or issues, and when to call them. He warned me it was going to be painful and he gave me a prescription for Tylenol with codeine. He also told me that the medical abortion works in more than 95% of cases and it’s even higher in cases like mine (I don’t know if it was my age, the earlyness of the abortion or something else that he meant).
The next afternoon, after work, I inserted the misoprostol pill high up in my vagina right up next to my cervix, and then laid down on the couch. I was SO glad I got to be at home with my own bathroom nearby and my cat to keep me company rather than having to be at a clinic. I had my favorite movies queued up, and my favorite blanket at the ready. About two hours in, I started to feel cramping (like period cramps). I took one of the tylenols and while it numbed the pain, it also made me feel too out of it (I had never taken Tylenol with Codeine before and it was not for me), so I stuck with over-the-counter painkillers after that. It was certainly uncomfortable and I went to the bathroom every 15 minutes or so, but overall it wasn’t bad AT ALL. It took about 6 hours for the bulk of the abortion to happen, which was just like having the heaviest period of my life. I remember I bled a bit for the next day (which I took off from work but later realized I didn’t really need to) or two, and that was it.
Two weeks later I even got my period! Which was a totally normal one and fine, and I was back to my regular cycle.
A year later I found myself pregnant again (yes, was using birth control both times, the first time I thought it was a fluke….nope). This time was also very early in the pregnancy, in fact so early I had to wait a week and go back, which was a horrible week of waiting—apparently you CAN be too early to try to get an abortion! This time it was easier as I knew what to expect and I didn’t take the Tylenol with Codeine so I was more clear-headed, though it really DID hurt quite a bit, like the worst cramps of my life (though I don’t get bad cramps and my friends who do said my abortion sounds like what they go through every month, which is freaking horrible for them). But similarly, the abortion went quickly and I went back to work the next day no problem, got my period again a couple weeks later.
Naturally after all that I’m extremely careful about birth control and just always use 2 methods at this point! Apparently I ovulate very late in my cycle sometimes, which is why I got pregnant when I did. I will never-ever trust a fertility monitor of any kind ever again, that’s how I got pregnant both times (Using a hi-tech monitor system and condoms on the days when I was in the ovulating zone or close to it).
Post-Abortion: I have never gotten pregnant again, and have never wanted to. I’m SO glad I didn’t have kids in my mid-20s—some people wake up every day thankful for their kids, I think at least weekly how glad I am that I don’t have them! I would recommend the abortion pill method, for me it was less traumatic than a surgery would be (though I’ve had other people tell me the idea of doing something like that at home would freak them out too much and they’d want it ‘done and over with’ in a day, which makes sense, though not for me).
I’ve had totally normal, clock-work-like periods since my abortions over 10 years ago, and never had any reproductive health issues.
Good luck with your decision!