Mandy’s Story

It never occurred to me that I could get pregnant, even though I wasn’t the most careful person where sex was concerned. I lost my virginity at 15, but didn’t start taking birth control until I was 18. I took it RELIGIOUSLY for 6 years. Back in September my prescription ran out and in typical doctor fashion, I couldn’t get a refill until I saw my gyno. I called and made an appointment for the beginning of October, but a week before my appointment a lady from the doctor’s office called me and said that my doctor would be out of the country for the next couple of weeks visiting her family back in India where she is from. They rescheduled me for the last week in October and gave me a single month prescription of my pills to hold me over until my exam. Then, 2 days before my rescheduled appointment, the lady calls me again and says that my doctor has a delivery scheduled at the same time as my appointment and can I come in the afternoon instead. I had 2 tests that afternoon and there was no possible way I could change the time. I asked if I could just reschedule for the next week, and I was informed that 2 doctors had left the practice so in order to get an appointment for something “routine”, I would have to wait until January. I went ahead and made an appointment for January 5th, and then started calling around to other doctor’s offices to see if I could get in more quickly. Nobody could get me in until the middle of November, so I just kept my appointment for January thinking that I would just have to be careful, and I was, except once.

The one time my boyfriend and I slipped up, I freaked out and immediately went to the pharmacy to get Plan B, which I took exactly as directed. I normally get my period around the 23rd of the month, like clockwork, but since it was the first time in 6 years that I hadn’t been on birth control, I wasn’t sure how regular it would be. Before I started taking BC, it was pretty irregular so when I didn’t get it by the 25th I wasn’t too worried. My boyfriend and I went to visit our families for a week for Thanksgiving and I was so busy that I didn’t realize I hadn’t had my period yet. Only when we returned home did I realize that I was more than a week late. I immediately went into a state of denial. I was having PMS symptoms so I started doing research on Plan B and read that it can make your period up to 10 days late. This was on a Wednesday and I told myself if I hadn’t started by Friday I was going to take a test. Needless to say it never came.

I was worried to take a test from the pharmacy because I wasn’t sure how accurate they were and I didn’t know if I was “pregnant enough” for one of those tests to detect the hormone. I went to a local health clinic where they gave me a really sensitive type of test that can detect pregnancy at 2 weeks. The lady told me that the test was positive, and asked me if I wanted to discuss my options. I told her that I already knew what I wanted to do. I immediately called Planned Parenthood to check on pricing. I’m a college student with no job and so is my boyfriend. There was no way we could afford to pay a lot for an abortion. The clinic in my town told me that it would be anywhere from $700 to $1200 depending on how far along I was. I was beside myself and didn’t know what to do, so I started looking online at different clinics. I noticed that on the Planned Parenthood website for a clinic in another major city about 3 hours away the price was only $315. I called them and made the appointment. At the end of the phone consultation, the nurse asked me if I would like to see if I qualified for financial assistance. She asked me a few questions about my income and living situation, and then said that if I could come up with $200 that they could pay the rest with donations. I was ecstatic. I made the appointment for a week from that day, which was a Friday. I immediately called my best friend, who lived in the city where the clinic was located, and told her what was going on. She said for me to come on the night before and she would take me to the clinic that day. My boyfriend wanted to come, but he had class, and I felt more comfortable with my friend being there because she had had an abortion herself and could relate better to what I was going through.

On the Thursday before my appointment, I drove to my friend’s house, and she told me that since she had roommates, she had made us an appointment at a really nice hotel right across from the clinic, and we were going to stay there after I had the procedure so that I could rest without people asking questions. I wasn’t nervous at all. I knew that what I was doing was the right thing for me. I didn’t sleep well because my boyfriend kept texting and calling me to make sure that I was ok. He was really freaking out himself, so I found myself reassuring him and telling him that I was fine and I wasn’t worried about the procedure at all.

My appointment was at 8:45 am, so my friend and I left her apartment at 7 sharp. We arrived at the clinic at 7:30. We were the third ones there. The building was very nondescript there were multiple doctors’ offices and administrative offices in the building along with the clinic. There were no protestors, which was my biggest fear. We were greeted by an armed guard, who asked for a password, which had been provided to me over the phone when I made my appointment. He took our driver’s licenses and marked my name off of a list. The outside door was locked and after we were “cleared” we had to be buzzed in. When we got inside, I was given paperwork to fill out and then they took a urine sample. After the urine sample, they called me back to do my ultrasound. The nurse informed me that I was about 5 ½ weeks pregnant and that I could choose the surgical method or the medication method. I just wanted to get it over with, so I chose the surgical method. Then another nurse came in and pricked my finger to check my iron level, blood type, and to see if I was anemic. I was then escorted to a TV room with big comfy couches and satellite television to wait for my counseling sessions. I only had to wait about 10 minutes and they called me back to speak with a counselor. She was very friendly and answered all of my questions, asked me if I was sure I wanted to have to procedure, and then escorted me back to the TV room to wait for the doctor. It was about 9 am and the doctor wasn’t due until 11:30, so I had some time on my hands. I still wasn’t nervous or upset. Over the course of the next few hours, more and more women were brought to the room where I was. At first there was a lot of nervous tension, but finally we broke the ice and all started talking. Most of us were first timers, some were nervous, others, like myself, weren’t. We tried to comfort the ones who were upset and asked questions of the women who told us that they had had abortions in the past. At some point about 20 women had gathered in the waiting room. It was nice to be able to talk with these women who were going through the same thing that I was. Some were only 4 weeks along, others were farther. We kept complimenting each other on purses, shoes, and hairstyles. We were telling about our families and sharing funny anecdotes to try and keep the mood light. At about 11:45 a nurse came and got me and gave me a shot of ibuprofen to prep me for the procedure. I chose not to be sedated.

At about 12:15, the same nurse came and got me to take me to the room where the procedure was being performed. She gave me a basket to put my things in, asked me to put a maxi pad in my panties, and sit on the table with a surgical sheet over me. About 2 minutes later the doctor came in, had me put my feet in the stirrups, and began the process. From the time I put my feet in the stirrups until the time the procedure was over was about 4 minutes. The actual suction process took less than a minute. There was a nurse holding one of my hands and a patient advocate holding my other hand, talking me through the pain of the process and telling helping me breathe. I had severe cramping and the pain was pretty intense, but it was quick and the doctor was very nice. They kept telling me what a good job I was doing and about how much time I had left. Suddenly the procedure was done. I was feeling weak and a little shaky, so my patient advocate gave me a damp towel to help me cool off, helped me into my underwear and pants, and then put me in a wheelchair to wheel me to recovery.

When I got to recovery, there were two girls already there. I had been the third patient of the day. The same nurse that had done my ultrasound and given me my shot was watching over the recovery room. There were recliners with heating pads and they hooked me up to a blood pressure monitor. I was cramping pretty badly and still shaky for about 10 minutes. After I had been in recovery for about 15 minutes, the nurse sent me to the restroom to check and see how much blood was on my maxi pad. I wasn’t bleeding at all and she said that was a good sign. She gave me some soda and animal crackers and I sat there for about another 10 minutes. She then told me that as soon as I felt up to it, I was free to go, but I could stay as long as I needed to. I was feeling ok so I decided to leave. The nurse gave me a brown paper bag with some pain killers, antibiotics, a months worth of birth control, and lots of information on the after effects of abortion procedures. I exited into the waiting room, where my friend was waiting to take me to the hotel.

We stopped by a pharmacy that was across the street and I picked up some panty liners, maxi pads, and some weaker pain killers. We went to Chik-Fil-A and got food since neither of us had eaten in hours. We then went and checked into the hotel. I took a pain killer and my first antibiotic pill, took a quick shower and then laid down for a nap. I slept for about 3 hours and when I woke up, I was cramping a little. I went to the bathroom to check and see if I was bleeding and there was a little bit of brown discharge, but no actual blood. My friend and I then went and got a bottle of wine to celebrate and went to a little Italian restaurant next to the hotel for dinner. We came back to the room, drank the bottle of wine, and went to bed. I woke up the next day and went shopping, bought myself a new pair of shoes to reward myself for surviving the ordeal, and drove myself home.

I decided when I found out I was pregnant that I could either be upset and depressed or I could try to keep my chin up and be positive about the situation. I opted to be positive. I wore full make-up to the appointment because it made me feel better about the whole thing. I also wore panties with a jeweled skull and crossbones on the front and striped toe socks that came up to my knees. Every time I had to strip down, the nurses and the doctor laughed at me for my choice of wardrobe and told me how funny they thought it was. I told them it was my way of keeping myself sane, and it worked.

My ordeal was only a few days ago, but I have absolutely no regrets. Hopefully when I go back for my follow up, everything will have healed as it should and I can move on with my life. I did as much as I could to prevent the situation, but I ended up there anyway. I see now that it can happen to anybody, not just the careless. I hope my story helps another girl who is struggling with her decision. I hope that I never have to make this decision again, but if I am ever in the same situation, I know that I will do the same thing again.