The minute the condom broke I knew I was going to get pregnant.

I was extremely upset and panicky and told my boyfriend of one month that I felt it was all over. We had met in graduate school and I was in the middle of my Master’s degree. The very last thing I wanted was to get pregnant. And so, when my period did not come two weeks’ later, I knew it.

We made an appointment at the women’s clinic in town and they did a blood test. I would have to wait a couple days for the results. The lady called us on a Saturday, and told me I had to make sure I got prenatal care and took care of myself. I don’t remember what I said but I got off the phone as fast as I could (I did feel a bit coerced, however). I was devastated but I knew exactly what we were going to do, as we’d discussed it. But I was in turmoil and just wanted to be with my boyfriend and sort this situation out.

He took responsibility for making the appointment and paying for it in a city an hour and a half away from ours. We wanted to get a medical abortion but were told in our state we couldn’t (something which turned out to be wrong, infuriating both of us later on). When we arrived at the clinic, the protesters were there, flapping their signs in our face. My boyfriend pushed them aside, shouted at them, and cursed them. I will be forever grateful to him for standing up for us like that and protecting me.

I had general anesthetic b/c I knew I would have a hard time being aware of the sounds and feelings going on. I was 7 weeks along, so it was relatively early. The physician and I talked before I went under–he was a nice man from India–and we shared stories of academic life. I was not sad; I just wanted it all to be over.

I woke up in recovery, freezing cold. And I just remember saying, “I’m cold, I’m cold,” even though I had blankets on. Because I had not had local anesthetic, like the other women around me, I was already feeling the pain in my uterus. It was bad. I just wanted to get out. My boyfriend helped me out and placed me in the passenger seat of the car, reclining the seat all the way back so that I was comfortable. It was a painful journey home but I was very glad to be back.

That night, I went into my bedroom and my boyfriend was sobbing uncontrollably. He was saying, “I just wanted to know if it was a boy or a girl.” It broke my heart to see him that way. I never saw him cry again.

We were married ten years and never had children. I have never regretted my abortion and neither did he.

Almost two decades later, married to my current husband, I became pregnant. I had had two miscarriages previously but finally we got to 14 weeks with this pregnancy and I had my scheduled amniocentesis. We had already talked about the options if something should be seriously wrong with the pregnancy, though my husband thought I was being ridiculously pessimistic.

The days’ long wait was agonizing. When the results came through and it turned out that the fetus I was carrying had a serious chromosomal abnormality, I felt my whole world had ground to a halt. I was in a kind of separate reality, where I was just going through the motions of living. We both knew what we were going to do, however, and our fetal specialist set the process in motion.

We had to travel nearly two hours to a university hospital to have the procedure performed because by that time I was 17 weeks along and there was no-one in the hospitals in our town who could perform the abortion. We went there the day before to check in and get all the paperwork completed. And I was given two pills to take that night to soften the cervix.

That night, back in our bed, I cried hysterically because I had taken the pills and I imagined the fetus dying in my uterus at that very moment. It was appalling to me. And yet I had chosen this and it was the right decision–I was able to say that to myself even at that instant. I asked my husband if he wanted to touch my abdomen to say goodbye. He did not. But I did, and I said sorry so many times to the baby, asking for forgiveness.

The next day, I had the procedure. It was carried out by my fetal specialist, a wonderful and compassionate man. I cried uncontrollably on the operating table, telling the lovely and kind nurses that I was so sorry, so sad, so sorry. That it was my last chance to have a child. And that I was sorry, so so sorry. Then I went under.

A few days later I began bleeding uncontrollably and went to see my specialist again. He immediately sent me over to one of the hospitals in our town. Some material had remained inside me from the termination (a rare complication for later abortions). I had to wait forever to be seen and the anesthesiologist was a total jerk to me. However, again the nurses and the medical support staff were lovely and I was well taken care of emotionally and physically.

My two abortions were so different: the first, I knew I would have one. I was not ready, I was totally focused on my studies, and I had no aptitude for motherhood at that time. The second happened to a desperately, desperately wanted child. It was a real test for me: I knew I would have one but I really didn’t want to kill a child. That’s how I felt. But I did it anyway. And I don’t regret it. And yet I am deeply sad about doing it.

My husband and I, against all odds, went on to have two wonderful, wanted children. This would not have been possible if I’d have gone through with the other pregnancies. My children are here now *because* I had two terminations.

I am so grateful to all the people who helped me access these procedures (both directly and indirectly) and who supported me throughout.