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I was 15 and living with my family in Germany, where my dad was stationed. I'd met the guy of my dreams and didn't care that my parents didn't approve of him. All my life my parents had been telling me to save myself for when I was in love and married. I wasn't married, but I was in love. So we made love, many times without worrying about protection.

Within six months I was lying to my parents whenever I needed to get out of the house to be with him. Then I missed a period. I convinced myself it was just nerves and did nothing. When I missed again, I told him, but still didn't do anything. Finally, I got up the nerve to make an appointment at the local clinic, and came to terms with proof that I was pregnant. The nurse recognized my last name, and, against the clinic rules, called my dad. He came and picked me up from school, drove me to my mom's office, and made me tell her right there.

After a lot of tears and fighting, they were able to tell me that any decision I made they would back me up. They did stress that doctors in the past had warned of medical problems, and going full term could be dangerous. I had already decided to terminate, but that made the decision easier (slightly). They made sure my boyfriend was on the same page, and then helped me start the process. By German law, I had to get permission of the church, too. Due to my medical problems, I was able to get the permission. My parents asked my boyfriend to tell his mom, so that he can pay for half the procedure. He kept putting it off, until my mom had to call his.

My parents made me tell my sisters, and the teachers at school. It was close to the end of the year, and I had to keep doing my homework. I felt embarrassed when telling my teachers, guilty when telling one sister, and terrible when telling my younger sister.

The day before the termination, I had doubts, and actually talked to my stomach, promising to let it live. But then I thought of all that would happen, of giving it up for adoption. I knew we were going to move soon, so I'd be making new friends at a new school while pregnant. Not a good first impression. And more than anything, I was worried about future health problems. I wanted to have kids with my future husband, and wasn't sure what medical problems might ensue; if they would prevent me going full term in the future. I decided to go ahead with the termination.

Both parents brought me to the clinic and held my hands while I had the ultrasound done. It turns out that the baby was 12 1/2 weeks, and they had to get special permission to continue; it was past the first trimester. Finally, I was led into the office, alone. By the time the doctor came in, I'd worked myself up and couldn't stop crying. He and the nurse had to continuously tell me to calm down or they wouldn't be able to continue. I got through it, but barely. After we left the clinic, I felt like 100 pounds had been lifted. I'm sure my mom was upset to see how upbeat I was.

The next day, I lied (again) to get out and see my boyfriend. He actually had the nerve to tell me, "After this is over, I don't want you having anything to do with your parents." I couldn't believe it! They stuck by me thru everything, and he and his mom barely did anything. At that point I knew he was everything my parents had said he was, and I broke up with him.

That was 17 years ago, and it's still a big part of me. I did marry, and have two wonderful kids. The pregnancies were hard, with lots of complications, and I can only imagine what difficulties I could have had if I'd gone through the pregnancy when younger. I've never been shy about telling friends, if the subject came up. And now my teen-aged daughters know. Their only response? Why didn't you tell us sooner?