I had an abortion early in my marriage. Being able to choose parenthood made me a better mom 10 years later.

Close-up of woman's hand holding child's hand
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  • Amy was married when she got pregnant in her mid-20s.

  • She chose abortion after talking with her husband.

  • She got pregnant unexpectedly 10 years later, and this time chose to parent.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with a woman who asked to use the pseudonym Amy to protect her child's privacy. It has been edited for length and clarity.

More than 20 years ago, I met my husband abroad and fell madly in love. We got married after about a year of dating. Not long after that, I got pregnant unexpectedly. I was only 26 at the time.

For a variety of reasons, I knew I wasn't ready to become a parent at that point. I was an addict in recovery. My husband was still drinking too much and would later admit that he had a substance-use disorder, too. I also wanted to continue to work on my mental health and heal from the childhood trauma of parents who fought viciously in front of me.

I knew I wasn't ready to be a parent

I had two immediate instincts: the first was that I wasn't ready to have a baby. The second was that following through on ending my pregnancy was going to be harder the longer I waited. Because of that, I acted swiftly and had an abortion as soon as I could. And while I wish I had taken a bit more time to process the decision, I never regretted it.

Though I didn't regret the abortion, I still grieved. This wasn't a heartless decision. About two days after the abortion, my husband and I held a candle-lighting ceremony. We tried to acknowledge, in our own way, that we were letting this spirit go. Although I believed there was the potential for life, I didn't think that force was an evolved being that I needed to continue within my body.

10 years later, I got pregnant again — and this time, decided to become a parent

My husband and I continued to grow as individuals and within our marriage. He got sober. I found spirituality through witchcraft and built a career that I loved. I eliminated some toxic people from my life and focused on meaningful, healthy relationships. I also quit smoking and drinking and became physically healthier, too.

Then, almost exactly 10 years after the abortion, I found myself unexpectedly pregnant again. We had just moved into a larger two-bedroom apartment, but this was still totally unplanned and we really weren't sure what we would do. We spent a week in bed together, debating whether or not to have a child. We took the time that I wish we had taken in our 20s.

My immediate thought was that I would have another abortion. I had spent my adult life avoiding pregnancy and continuing to be child-free seemed like the best choice at first. But as we made pros and cons lists, we felt that our reasons for staying child-free were selfish or silly.

I also knew that if we had an abortion, we were committing to being child-free for life. Personally, I wouldn't have this procedure and then decide to plan a pregnancy in a year. So this time, we chose to parent.

I can't imagine life without my son, but I would choose abortion again if I had to

As soon as my son was born, I was dumbfounded by how awesome it was to be his parent. I was completely in love with him and with being a mom. More than 10 years later, I can't imagine my life without parenting.

Yet I don't regret that abortion. I am the mother I am today because I was able to take another decade to heal and grow. That time, and that healing and growth, is part of what lets me focus on my son in a healthy way. In my 20s, I was afraid to repeat the mistakes of my parents; in my 30s, I was able to approach being a parent with a clean slate. Now that I'm in my 40s, I see that hard work paying off even more as my son grows into a well-adjusted young man on the cusp of adolescence.

I would never want my son to know that I almost aborted him. But I hope to one day tell him about the previous abortion and how it was absolutely the right choice for me, for his father, and ultimately, for him. My son has the privilege of two emotionally healthy parents because we chose abortion the first time.

Today, I'm 48, and the risk of pregnancy is almost entirely behind me. However, if I were to conceive, I would have another abortion. Based on the situation we're in, that would be what's best not only for me, but for my son.

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