She came in anxious, afraid, and alone. Not planning on getting pregnant, she was overwhelmed by my confirmation of a positive result. She asked questions, and I shared with her about how far along she was and the baby’s fetal development. She then asked me about abortion. She and her boyfriend were not ready to be parents, and her family would be disappointed she was pregnant outside of marriage. She stated she was strongly considering abortion for this pregnancy.
As part of our medical services, I provide medically accurate information when a patient requests information on abortion procedures. However, different from an abortion clinic, I’m not trying to sell her a service or deceive her on the procedure’s ease. As a nurse, I review the abortion procedures with her and give her details of surgical abortions and the abortion pill. I also discuss the short-term and long-term risks of abortion and educate her about our reproductive grief support services. I want her to be fully informed before making any decision. After educating her, I always offer an ultrasound to confirm her pregnancy and let her know how far along she is. She agreed to the ultrasound, and we scheduled her next appointment.
On the day of her ultrasound appointment, she left a voicemail to cancel. My heart dropped. I tried to get her to reschedule, but she did not return my call for several days. Eventually, we connected, and she made another appointment. While on the phone, she let me know that “more and more reasons for her to have an abortion were coming up.” She shared her boyfriend was not really on board with being a dad and parenting and that she felt like he would rather her have an abortion. When I asked her what she wanted, she said that she really didn’t know. I encouraged her to bring her boyfriend to the ultrasound appointment so they could together decide after seeing the baby.
Finally, the day of her ultrasound arrived. To my surprise, her boyfriend had come to the appointment with her. I began her ultrasound, and she was shocked at how big the baby already was, and she asked many questions about the development of her baby. When we brought the patient’s boyfriend into the room, he was amazed at how much the baby looked like a baby. The boyfriend was also full of questions and concerns. The patient asked if she could have a picture of the baby, and of course, I gave her as many as she wanted. After finishing the ultrasound and answering all of their questions, I asked the couple how they were feeling. Both said they needed time to process what they just experienced alone and as a couple. When leaving, the patient still marked that she was undecided about her plans for the pregnancy on the feedback form we provide at the end of every visit.
After I had received the final reading on the patient’s ultrasound from the doctor, I called the patient to follow up with her and let her know the final results. The patient answered the phone, and when I identified myself, the tone of her voice changed from upbeat to quiet and reserved. I let her know why I was calling, and if she and her boyfriend had made a final decision about the pregnancy decision. Quitely she struggled to get the words out without crying, but she said, “we have decided to do a medication abortion…” She paused and took a deep breath then said, “It’s not the right time for us, and I can’t go through having a surgical abortion.” I let her know that I am always here for her if she needed to talk to someone and if she takes the abortion pill and feels any regret that she could take the abortion pill reversal, giving her the number to call. I also asked if I could continue to follow up with her from time to time. Holding back tears, she thanked me for everything, and I told her that I would be praying for her.
The patient did not answer any of my follow up calls after our last phone conversation so I had lost all hope that she would continue her pregnancy and parent. I continued to pray for her health and safety. I also prayed that she would call the clinic if she ever needed us.
Last week I had a message that a patient had called to get her medical record faxed to her Obstetrician. I asked the receptionist to find out their name and let them know that I would call them back. When I got the note with the patient’s name and phone number, I was shocked to find out that it was this particular patient! She came in the next day to talk about why she changed her mind. She said she was excited to be a mom, and her boyfriend was coming around to the idea of parenting more and more every day. I gave her a bag full of gifts for the baby and diapers and wipes to get her started. I also talked with her about our free parenting and labor and delivery classes. When she left, she thanked me for everything we had done for her.
I love it when we see hopelessness and confusion turn to hope and joy! When a patient goes from having an unplanned pregnancy being the worst thing that could have ever happened to them to it being the best thing! I love being a part of this ministry and getting to be a part of each patient’s story.
Written by Natasha Van Vliet, Nurse Manager