I always feel compelled to write on here when I feel my thoughts cannot be completely empathised by people around me; when the answers to my rants or deeply-rooted issues or experiences can only come from within, rather than through words of mere sympathy from those who have the best intentions but just don’t have the right words of reassurance.
Ten days ago I underwent a surgical abortion to terminate a 6-week pregnancy that I had only discovered three days prior. Never in my life did I think I would ever need to say those words, given my natural tendency to always take precaution in my actions. But alas, this is real life, and this did happen to me.
They say the copper IUD contraceptive method is 99.8% effective in preventing unexpected pregnancies. Condoms range in only 85-98% effective. The only superior contraceptive method to the IUD is the contraceptive implant that you insert into your arm, which is 99.9% effective. Prior to this decision I remember reading horror stories online of how some women fell pregnant with one in place — but surely I wouldn’t be that unlucky. Surely.
But no, I just happened to be the 1 in 500 women who did fall pregnant with one in. On the day of the procedure my doctor saw in the ultrasound that my IUD had moved out of place within my uterus. Whether its misplacement caused the conception or that it had moved after I’d conceived will forever be a mystery.
My decision to terminate my pregnancy was straight forward and simple, and having my partner have the same stance as me on this situation made things easier. I have and always will be an advocate for pro-choice, and after I saw the third pregnancy test showing positive, the only thought that crossed my mind (other than FUCK MY LIFE) was not whether I should continue with the pregnancy, but how soon I can terminate. Believe me when I say there is probably nothing else in this world that I feel will give me the same satisfaction or fulfilment in life that raising my own children would give. Not only this, I fell pregnant with someone that I know will one day be the best father to my children in the years to come. At 27, every bone in my body tells me I was born to be a mother — just not right now.
The procedure, for me, was a psychologically manageable experience. I’m sure it would’ve been much different had I gone into it without such a firm decision in my mind, and I think this is where women making such decisions should be clearheaded about prior to entering the clinic. I also feel that personally, my conscience felt light as I knew I didn’t become pregnant for being reckless or irresponsible. I used a reliable contraceptive method that just unluckily happened to fail on me. End-to-end, it was about 4-5 hours in duration. I was under twilight sedation, meaning I was apparently half awake throughout the procedure but the anaesthesia blocked me from forming memories about it. So thankfully, I remember none of it. One moment I was on the bed pantie-less with a waist drape over me and the anaesthetist telling it was time to go under; next moment I was in a reclined chair in the recovery room with my undies magically back on. The surgical procedure was about 45 minutes in duration.
Pain-wise, I felt close to zero pain in the days following the procedure. I was incredibly fatigued for the first two days, and bleeding was light relative to my normal periods. Nine days in I am still bleeding/spotting and have had sporadic and very light period-like cramps, but this should cease in the coming days. Because it was such an early termination, I’ve had to get an extra ultrasound and a couple more blood tests done to ensure that the doctor had properly removed the embryonic sac (which would’ve been, at 6 weeks, just a tiny speck on the ultrasound, so uncertainty of complete removal was higher than normal) and also to exclude the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy. Fortunately I passed all tests, so within the next week or so I should be back to being as fertile and as pregnancy-prone as ever before.
I guess the reason why I’m writing this post is the psychological impact that this has had on me since a few days ago. As soon as the procedure was over, I felt relief. However, now that everything is over and I’ve had some time to let it all sink in, a ‘mixed bag of emotions’ might best describe my mind right now. On the one hand, I stand by my decision to terminate. However, if there was a single english word to describe the sense of having quiet, reflective and melancholic ‘what if’ thoughts and imagining the potential outcomes had I walked down that other path, this would be it.
I recently met a happy couple in their early 30s at a party who have a two year old daughter and honestly, their daughter eerily looks like what I imagine my own daughter would look like. I later found out that they had gotten married sooner than later for the very reason of an unexpected pregnancy. These two combined was a majorly unexpected trigger for the emotions I feel now. I see photos of their child and feel sudden triggers of guilt, grief, and what-ifs.
As I come from a very scientific background, my way of coping with the entire termination was to dehumanise the pregnancy as much as possible. Rather than thinking of having a baby inside of me, I thought very much of it as just a ball of embryonic cells without any form of consciousness, especially at the week I terminated. While it’s not to the extent of emotional trauma, I do feel that these emotional triggers are somewhat chipping away at this construct I’d formed in my mind.
In the days following my termination I searched online to read other people’s stories, I guess as a way to grasp how I should be feeling after this all-too-unfamiliar experience. However, a lot of these stories I just couldn’t fully relate to, mainly because of how emotionally traumatised many of these women felt throughout the entire experience. I wonder if there are any women who can relate to my sense of feeling psychologically sound in my decision, and yet also feeling melancholic and pensive.
I don’t think there is any true solution to how I’m feeling; I’m merely using my words on here as a therapeutic outlet of sorts. As I said before, this is just something that no one else but myself and time can provide solace for. Knowing myself, in many ways these feelings will likely to follow me throughout my life, where it will always lay somewhat dormant but ever present in the back of my mind. I can only hope that this experience will make me feel more protective, appreciative, and aware of myself and my future children when the time comes.
I hope my words bring some consolation to those who come across this post. Whatever you are feeling, you’re not alone.