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— Skip this one if you’re squeamish. —

Since going through this I have become a FIERCE advocate for women’s rights and abortion rights. I always was pro-choice, because I truly believe women aren’t out there in droves trying to abort babies late in pregnancy. I never thought I’d have an “abortion”, but that’s what a medicated miscarriage is classified as.

I didn’t mention this in my past post, but let me lay out how that week went.

On February 22, 2023 I started a full-time job. I am a photographer full-time, but knowing we wanted a baby, knowing the costs of IVF and how fixated I was on fertility, I wanted a distraction. I also wanted maternity leave one day. I applied for jobs and took on this job before I knew I was pregnant, but hopeful it would happen. By the time I started I knew I was pregnant.

My first day I went into the office to meet everyone in person. My interviews had been on zoom, so this would be the first time. That day was the first day I started bleeding. While I was trying to focus on the job, I was panicked about whether I was losing this baby.

As time went on, juggling a new role that was more challenging than it ought to be and juggling a guarded pregnancy was hard. At the time, was a solely remote position, at the very least so I got to work from home. I found out on Friday, March 10th that we had no heartbeat. Before starting work for the day at 8am. I came home, told my boss I got some bad news, he pressed a bit about what, and I told him family stuff. He told me to take it easy that day, I’d continue to work at my own discretion but I may not be all there.

I called my clinic and they had the doctor call me back to discuss “options”.

I had 3 options.

  1. A natural miscarriage, which may or may not occur – if it did not, I’d have to consider option 2/3 anyway. It could take a while, it might not happen at all. We already knew our baby was gone for a week at that stage, so infection was also a risk the longer the tissue stayed in my body.
  2. A medicated miscarriage – I’d take one medication day 1, a second medication day 2, and the miscarriage process would begin ideally within 12-24 hours.
  3. A D&C (surgical removal of the pregnancy). More invasive, more concrete.

I decided on option 2. The determining factor for me was speed, I wanted it gone. I didn’t want to be pregnant anymore. I would have to wait for a D&C, until there was time in the surgeon’s schedule. It could be with very little notice. If I took medication one immediately that day, I could start the miscarriage on Saturday, with hope it would be finished by Monday so I could work again.

The clinic sent me to a very specific pharmacy in my area. This is where we learn about reproductive rights…

Abortion is legal in Canada. We are VERY lucky to be given the choice. Did I want an abortion? No. Did I need an abortion? Likely yes. Whether the baby was already gone, or whether a defect would cause them suffering, I would have chosen to forgo the natural miscarriage. In any miscarriage/abortion, it’s possible for tissue to be retained by the body, and it can cause all kinds of issues. Option 2/3 both are the most helpful at removing all the tissue. Option 1 often requires 2/3 anyway to remove it all. Sometimes 2 or 3 don’t get it all either, and another method has to be used.

Despite being legal, very few pharmacies stock the medication. Mifepristone, when used together with another medicine called Misoprostol, are used to end a pregnancy through 9-10 weeks gestation on average. It’s controversial. I had NO IDEA how hard it was to acquire, even with the doctor’s prescription and sign off. We learn new things every day.

My husband went and picked up the medication for me while I finished work for the day, and as soon as he came home I started the process.

My medicated abortion experience was hard, but predictable (thank baby jeebus). It was both the worst pain of my life and the biggest relief of my life.

Trigger warning again – graphic descriptions/loss.

I took day 1’s dose. This medication is a progesterone blocker. It stops supporting the pregnancy, in preparation for a clearing of the uterus. That was all good.

On Saturday, day 2, I took Misoprostol. I had read stories of people’s experiences on Reddit and online forums. I was scared but ready. I surrounded myself with the essentials:

  • Heating pad
  • Advil
  • Tylenol
  • Snacks
  • Gatorade
  • Netflix
  • Adult diapers
  • Bucket for vomit

I took the pill and within around 4 hours I started cramping, as expected. The cramps built up over the next two hours. Tolerable still. But medication helped. I kept a hot pack on my abdomen to ease the discomfort.

I put on the adult diaper just in case.

About 7 hours after the medication it began. Cramps continued to build into what I’ll describe as borderline contractions. I started bleeding slightly and kept checking to see if anything major was happening. Bleeding got heavier, but nothing much greater than a period.

For some, the first dose doesn’t work, and they have to take a second dose after 24 hours. I was ‘lucky’ this wasn’t the case. At 7.5 hours or so, I started having excruciating cramps/contractions. Keep in mind, I am popping advil and tylenol on regular intervals at the max dose. Let’s just say it did not take the edge off.

I went into what I assume were full on contractions. I was sweating, I couldn’t wear clothes, I put a mat down on the bathroom floor but all my body felt like it wanted to do was sit on the toilet and poop out my insides. Nothing came besides liquid blood.

I sat on the floor again, for about 45 minutes. It ramped up. It was the worst pain I have ever felt in my entire life. Worse than the banana bike seat up the hooha at age 12, worse than a dental abscess that triggered my trigeminal nerve, worse than any IVF injection, any skinned knees or any period I have ever had. Worse than the car accidents and sprains. I sat doing cat-cow on the floor for what seemed like eternity, mooing like a damn cow (seriously). I pushed and pushed and nothing came, until suddenly I felt a gush, a release. The contractions returned to cramps, and there it was.

That thing I fought so hard to grow. That 30 thousand dollar piece of tissue. The visible gestational sac, about 3 inches long. Luckily, no fetus was visible, but I assume it was present in a few pieces of the tissue that were expelled (a few different things came out with different consistencies/colour). I knew from reading about the process, and what parts needed to be accounted for, that my miscarriage was done.

I went to bed, kept popping the pills and applying the heat. The next day I recovered in bed, my body was exhausted, like I had run a marathon. The hormones were FIERCE. Coming off the high hormones of pregnancy, and slowly losing them over the coming weeks was a trip. I felt waves of depression, which almost seemed like postpartum depression in hindsight, comparing this to what my mama friends have told me post birth.

I returned to work on Tuesday, taking Monday off because I just didn’t care anymore.

Slowly my thoughts began to look forward at what was next. We still had a normal embryo on ice, so all was not lost. The fighter could continue to fight when the time was right. We still had a shot.

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