I did everything “right”. I was married, in my 30s, and using the most reliable form of birth control currently available, an IUD. Despite this, I still became pregnant.

Getting pregnant with an IUD is rare and dangerous. The risk of ectopic pregnancy is increased, and if the IUD is left in place, it can cause fetal abnormalities. It turns out that I likely became pregnant because my IUD had migrated lower in my uterus than it should have been. This is supposedly very rare but happened to me with two subsequent IUD placements, so something about my body does not work for an IUD. I mention this because it also means that the most reliable method of birth control currently available is not one that I can actually use. Due to the incorrect position of my IUD, one of the arms became embedded in my cervix and could not be removed. It’s still there today. This would not have been a healthy situation for a developing fetus even if I had wanted to continue the pregnancy.

As my family can attest, I’ve never wanted to birth my own children. From the time that I was a little kid myself, being pregnant and birthing a child was never something that felt like the right choice for me and my body. An unplanned pregnancy did not change that. During the week or so leading up to my abortion, I was exhausted, and my head felt cloudy. I did not have the energy for my usual activities, including those of being a mom to the child I was already parenting. I did not feel like myself. “I did not feel like myself” sounds so mild, but I don’t know how else to describe the truly unpleasant experience of feeling like a part of myself, a part of myself that I loved, was clouded over.

I want to make it clear that while abortion can be a difficult emotional experience for some, it isn’t always. Before my own experience, I assumed that abortion was always emotionally fraught. I can tell you now that I made the decision to have an abortion with certainty that it was the right decision for me and my family. I felt absolutely no internal conflict before, during, or after. The evening that I returned home from the clinic after the procedure, I felt amazing. The fog had cleared, and I felt like myself again. I felt joyful and free. I felt in control of my life and so grateful that this was a decision that I was allowed to make. Every day since then, I have felt grateful for my life and my bodily autonomy.

Another wrinkle to my story: I found out that I was pregnant while my husband and I were in the process of becoming legal full-time guardians to a 16-year-old who at the time had been living with us for just two months. This was a child, already here on this planet, needed us, and we were pouring our hearts into being her parents. Again, I did not want to be pregnant or birth a baby for many of my own reasons. But we also would not have been able to parent our now-17-year-old in the way that she deserved if we had birthed a baby less than a year after she joined our family.

My husband and I take the care of children very seriously. We both dedicated our professional lives to youth, working in various community programs that support middle school youth and their families. We help to raise the kids in our co-op. We set up our lives with intention so that we would be ready to provide support to any children who needed it, and became parents to a teenager overnight when that’s what was needed. I also started graduate school this year studying Clinical Mental Health Counseling for Children and Adolescents, a program that I absolutely would not have been able to pursue if I hadn’t had an abortion. My point is, we are incredibly pro-kid, and we can continue to support the kids around us because we have the capacity to do so.

Since I cannot use an IUD for birth control and have had adverse reactions to hormonal birth control in the past, I am fortunate that my husband chose to get a vasectomy. I have the privilege of being in a committed relationship where we as a couple can make a choice like this. I have so much privilege beyond my relationship status, and would be able to travel to receive abortion care if needed again. But so many others do not have these options. A country where the privileged can access abortion care while others cannot is not a free or equal country.

Each person’s abortion story is personal and nuanced. And each story, each circumstance, is valid. It’s important to me to share my story because I want to live in a world where every person who can get pregnant can choose whether they carry that pregnancy to term. I want to live in a world where the babies born are wanted, loved, and cared for. I want to live in a world where we prioritize resources and support so that families can raise healthy kids. I want to live in a world where me, without this entire story, could choose to have an abortion for no other reason than because that’s what I felt was best for me and my body.