I saved the ultrasound picture in a dated envelope, stuck it in a drawer and just as I closed the drawer – I closed out that moment in my life. They asked if I planned to continue with the pregnancy, at the tender, scared and reckless age of 18, in a low whisper, I said, “No.”

I’m sharing my abortion story. Abortion isn’t an abstraction, it’s real. I’m tired of hiding it to make people feel more comfortable. Abortion doesn’t need to be whispered about in dark rooms, or as a topic only made for middle-aged white men to rant about in fancy suits, sitting in Americas’ courthouses.

1 in 3 women in this county will have an abortion in her lifetime.

I was an average high school student and an athlete. I knew something was off, I knew that I wasn’t laying up at night crying myself to sleep for no reason. I could feel him growing inside of me but a lot of that I blocked out because it hurt too much to think about it for any length of time.

At the time, I felt complete shame and denial. For the longest 19 weeks of my life, I fought hard with my heart, my mind and the little bit of Gospel that I knew over what was the right thing to do.

Finally, I found some something. I’m not sure if it was courage or fear or maybe, it was me trying to save myself from mental and physical suicide, but whatever it was, I told my family.

With each breath I took, I felt the life I had planned was slipping past me. 19 weeks is a long time. I went through mental torture. I think the reason I held on so long is because in my naiveté I thought it would go away if I ran one more mile, or just skipped one more meal.

I scanned the phone book calling clinics, my voice shaking, practically choking on my tears. I finally decided on a place by the kindness in their phone voice, as they warned me of protesters. I went to the clinic, practically speechless the entire trip. It was in the ghetto of a city I don’t want to go back to.

Protesters were there with ‘holy water’ and stinging pro-life clichés.

In the waiting room, the female strangers and I sort of formed an alliance. Very careful not to make eye contact or speak, we bonded. The doctors and nurses were compassionate and within 3 days it was over.

Then in spring of 2009, the test came back positive. I took three home tests just to be sure.

My mind returned to racing, “This can’t be real. This can’t be happening again.”

I thought I was on top of the world, as 24 year old college student, one year away from graduation.

Shame and denial quickly returned. Mental and physical suicide clasped clarity of any other thoughts.

But in those moments, once again, I found something – courage, fear or suicide prevention, but the time came.

He was less than 20 weeks old when I made my decision. When asked if I was planning to continue with the pregnancy, I said, “Yes.”

Having an abortion at a young age has made me a much better Mom to my son. I get it now. He is truly a gift to me and I understand that being a parent isn’t all rainbows and butterflies.