I want to share my experience in hopes of offering a comprehensive picture and perhaps some tips/things I would change. I am 31 years old and we have a severe genetic disease in my family that influenced my decision – I do not want to get further into it than that. I had sex one time (so I knew the exact date of conception), and knew within about a week of missing my period something was wrong and took the test. I just had a "feeling"..no other symptoms. It came out positive, much to my horror, and the next day I immediately contacted Planned Parenthood after some internet searching on what to do. I was told that the chemical (medication) procedure I had opted for could not even begin until I was 5 weeks, and I had found out a little over 2 weeks post conception. I also was told I needed to do an information session at least 24 hours in advance. I set the abortion for as soon as possible – the 5 week mark on the dot (I went to planned parenthood and was told they would only perform these procedures on Fridays). I moved my information session around a bit at the advice of the nice counselors on the phone..one pointed out to me that with it being a brutal winter, I want to allow enough time in case it needs to be rescheduled once or twice due to weather, but also have it closer to the procedure date because my chance of miscarrying was so high this early in the pregnancy. I set it for about a week before the procedure. The video session (After an hour long wait) was essentially an informative, 5 minute video stating some of the laws of my state, where to turn if someone was hurting/abusing me, that this is my choice, etc. It wasn’t graphic, scary, or anything like I pictured (I honestly pictured government propaganda to scare me out of my decision). The woman that ran the video was so kind to me, and told me I’d be ok, which put me at ease. Throughout the remainder of my pregnancy, I continued on as normal – working out daily, trying to keep as good care of my health as possible (I always do). The day of the procedure at planned parenthood (the first rounds of medications) I was told to prepare to be there 6 hours. I was in and out in three full hours. I would recommend HIGHLY taking the first appointment of the day – when I left the clinic there was not even room to sit, and the waiting room was huge! I’d imagine that the later your appointment, the more backed up they are. There were roughly 5 other woman who sort of followed me “station to station” throughout the day. The first stop was to quickly speak to someone about what would happen today, and the first two things she explained was that I needed to complete a urine sample and a chylamid/gonorrhea test (very simple and pain free – simply put a larger sized qtip into my vagina and make a circular motion for 30 seconds). You leave your testing supplies in a metal box in the bathroom, and then move down to the next “station,” where you wait outside with this same group on chairs to be called in for your ultrasound. The ultrasound tech asked me 1. Would I like to know if it is multiples? 2. Would I like to see the ultrasound? 3. Would I like a copy of the ultrasound? I answered yes to all three. She quickly inserted a wand into my vagina and the ultrasound was over in a few seconds- pain free, but cold. She showed me the three pictures she captured, indicated it was a single birth, and gave me one of the pictures. I then went back to the chairs and was quickly called back for bloodwork. They pricked my finger to test my hemoglobin, which was at a healthy rate. They explained that if it was low, I could bleed severely and they would need to do an inhouse procedure rather than allow me to complete the second set of pills at home. They also took my blood pressure, then they tested my blood type. Turns out that I am negative, which can lead to RH incompatibility. I was then placed in a separate area because I needed a shot to prevent antibodies from attacking any future fetuses (it is important that I know this now and bring it up to any doctor if I ever were to have a future pregnancy). I also met with a licensed nurse who administered the shot I needed, reviewed my chart, and ensured I had no other questions. My final stop was with the actual doctor who reviewed all the medications I would be taking, answered all questions, and was very kind. She gave me the first pill to swallow with ginger ale (this would stop the pregnancy hormone), had me schedule a follow up ultrasound for one week, and sent me on my way.
Fast forward to the next morning. I had been prescribed one weeks worth of antibiotics and told to begin them yesterday evening at dinner (the day that I had been in office), followed by morning/evening for seven days. I had taken the evening pill with no issue. The next morning I had fresh strawberries and a cup of coffee and took my antibiotic – BIG MISTAKE! About a half hour later I got incredibly nauseated and immediately threw up everything. Even after throwing up I didn’t feel so great so I let my stomach settle for about 2 hours and then begin the process of taking the abortion pills, after eating a few saltines and soda. I made sure I had everything I needed bedside – a bucket to vomit in, pads, thermometer, cell phone, heating pad, saltines, ibuprofen, etc., and then began the procedure. I was instructed to take two Tylenol (I opted for 800 mg of ibuprofen (4 pills) because Tylenol never touches my cramps), followed by placing an antinausea medication on my tongue and letting it dissolve, and then waited a half hour. I then placed the four pills, two on either side of my mouth, into my mouth as instructed, between my gums and cheeks to let them dissolve for a half hour. While doing this, I sucked on a candy cane (other people recommended this or hard candy, it was a great tip) to avoid the nasty taste. Once a half hour had passed, I swallowed the fragments. I was told that as long as I could keep them in my cheeks for a half hour I would be ok, even if I threw up once I swallowed the fragments because they would have mostly been absorbed by the blood vessels in my cheeks during that first half hour. I was then told I could take another round of pain killers a half hour after swallowing the pills. About 25 minutes into the wait, all of a sudden the medication hit me. I will be very honest and say it was incredibly brutal. I read a lot of accounts online about what would happen, and one person essentially equated it to induced labor, and this is what I kept in mind. I quickly stumbled into the bathroom to sit on the toilet where the cramping (I think these were contractions), came on incredibly hard, incredibly fast, and incredibly close together. I imagine that this would be much like a shortened/quick version of child birth, and even perhaps worse because contractions are usually much longer apart and your body builds up to the pain. For about a half hour I sat on the toilet, in intense pain, dealing with these contractions. The entire time I dealt with this, I just tried my best to breathe, I told myself this was my uterus’ way of getting rid of the tissue, that it would pass, and that I would be ok. On a pain scale, it was about an 8.5 to 9 out of 10. During this time, I did have multiple bowel movements, in the end having liquid diarrhea and I did feel some blood come out (but I didn’t look before flushing and I’m not really sure how much). My arms and legs also went completely numb, I was sweating and had chills as well. No nausea. All of a sudden, as fast as they came on, they slowly started to ease up – I’d have 2 seconds before a contraction, then 3, then 4, and then all of a sudden it was all over and I was EXHAUSTED. When I wiped (not to be gross but just to be informative), I had brown paste with a tinge of red coming from my vagina. I went to bed with a heating pad (this worked wonders, make sure you buy one! I’ve never used it on cramps before because mine were never this severe). I slept for about two hours and then woke up and began having some pretty bad cramping again. This was no where near as severe as the toilet incident, but I’d still give it about a 7 on a pain scale. I found that walking around eased it much more than laying or sitting, but because I was still so exhausted I just wanted to lay/sit. I had these for about 45 minutes (And right when I woke up I popped the 4 motrin again) and it was intense, and then suddenly they were gone. At this point in time, I still didn’t have a drop of blood on my pad, and was terrified this procedure didn’t work. Probably about a half hour, I did begin to bleed. Much heavier than a normal period for me, however, nothing terrifying, I soaked three overnight pads in about 6 hours (They tell you if you soak more than 2 per hour for more than 2 hours straight you need to call for help). After that second round of cramping, I haven’t had a single cramp, knock on wood (I’m writing this 24 hours later). I did set my alarm every four hours, throughout the entire night as well, to take motrin as a preventative, so this may have helped. It is 24 hours and other than the bleeding, I feel perfectly fine. Everytime I took motrin (and sometimes more frequently), I also took my temperature via an ear thermometer. They tell you to be on the lookout for a fever, and at one point my body temperature actually dipped low (97.1) instead of the other way, so I just made sure to cover myself with extra blankets and turn the heat up.
A few things that I would like to mention is that perhaps my situation was slightly easier because I was literally five weeks along (the medication abortion can be done between 5 and 10 weeks) and I do generally take great care of myself – exercising, eating very well, taking vitamins, etc. I think one HUGE mistake I made is that I really had nothing in my stomach on this day. I really can never eat anything before 12 or 1 o’clock but on this day I forced myself to eat the strawberries and take the antibiotic, then obviously threw all of that up. Because about three saltines was all that was in my stomach, I think perhaps the medication hit me so much harder and faster – I’d suggest having at least one meal in you on this day. I still don’t have an appetite (I’m not nauseuated, just not really hungry at all), and I’m sure that makes things worse. Also, I’m incredibly petite (under 110 lbs) and they give the same medication to everyone, so again this may have hit me harder. Personally, I’m thrilled that I had those two rough rounds and was done with the pain, I can deal with the bleeding all day long but didn’t want to be in pain/uncomfortable. Finally, I only told one person about this, and he was on standby via phone in case I needed him, and very sweet and supportive, but I did do this on my own at home. I personally prefer to be alone for things like this (vomiting, etc.) so this worked for me and wasn’t scary, but I also prepped everything I needed. I’d just like to conclude with the following and that is to keep everything in perspective…I had a “funny” thought while on the toilet in pain..I thought about how women every day give birth, some while working in fields in foreign countries…our bodies/nature are designed to handle this, and I just told myself I would be okay and it would pass. Secondly, make sure you have on hand some sort of hard candy/candy cane, your pain medication of choice, all your information provided so that it is within reach in case your have an emergency, lots of tissues, a drink of choice, thermometer, pads, bucket, heating pad, cell phone, remotes etc. and you will be fine. I would also recommend reading as many stories online as possible – both horrible and good. I would have absolutely freaked out when my arms and legs went numb had I not read that this happened to someone else and they were okay, even though their story overall scared the pants off of me. This is going to be different for everyone, and I think that is what makes it important you read so many accounts. There are horror stories and there are some people that have a pretty easy time with it. One final note – some women really reported that the hormones really really messed with them. Again, I was only five weeks, and I would have thought I’d 100% be affected by this, but so far so good, only relief that this is over and wanting to move on. Best of luck to you.