I was in my first year of my Bachelors degree, living with my first serious boyfriend, working two jobs while in college to make ends meet. One Thursday while working at the Starbucks on campus, I noticed the smell of the steamed milk was suddenly unbearable. From that, I threw up, but didn’t feel sick… and that’s when my stomach dropped, and I just knew. That next morning before work, my boyfriend and I agreed to taking the test, and the result broke me. I cried. I screamed. I felt my future, my dreams, everything strip away.

Growing up, my parents told me I was a whole, a slut, and that I’d be lucky to make it to 18 without being pregnant every day since I was 14 when I was raped, even though that was my only sexual “experience”. In that moment, even though I was 20, I felt like my parents were right. I hated myself for letting it happen and I felt like a failure. I knew I had to finish my degree, that was my priority in life. I had struggled with anxiety and depression before, and I knew a pregnancy and a demanding degree would surely cause me to spiral. After expressing my desire for termination, my boyfriend was so against it at first. His friends had kids, so he thought he could too, but he proceeded with helping me get ready for my decision. In that time before my appointment, my depression  reached levels like never before. My relationship hit rock bottom and even ended up getting physical. I was broken, I hated myself, and I felt more alone than ever in my life, but I knew my decision was my own, and I trusted myself.

My boyfriend ended up supporting me entirely, because he knew we were both not stable mentally, emotionally, or financially. We knew it wouldn’t be fair to a child. We watched so many people try to “fix” relationships by having children and we agreed that was never fair to the kid. We agreed that that decision was being made for their future siblings to have a better life than they ever would. After our appointment, we bought a small elephant picture that says “Dream big little one”, which the ultrasound rests behind.

I am now in my final class of my engineering degree, I have two associates, and I am married to that boyfriend. In my wedding bouquet was a charm with that ultrasound on it. Do I regret my decision, not a bit. Seeing how young and immature and broken my husband and I were at the time, I’m forever grateful and proud of the decision we made. It wasn’t taken lightly. Sometimes I cry for them. Sometime I think about them. Sometimes I hurt about not being able to tell anyone because I’ll be judged. Sometimes I think back to right after, when my depression spiraled and I couldn’t tell a soul expect my husband’s grandma who held my hand through it all. I wish the stigma wasn’t there. I wish people acknowledged the emotional toll it takes on us, and didn’t jump to assuming that the emotion is regret, because it isn’t.

It has taken years to accept, but I am allowed to feel sad about the situation without feeling guilty or being told it’s regret, and others can too. I’m allowed to remember, and cherish them and the decision that allowed me the life I have.