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I've had two abortions. I never expected to have one, but then two...There's a kind of fear and disbelief that comes from a second abortion. I don't regret what I had to do, but it still isn't easy to live with what happened. I don't expect it ever will be.

I was 20, and my college boyfriend had just graduated and moved back to California. We broke up, and though I cared for him, I knew we could never be together. I was on and off the pill, and we were using condoms, but I missed a period in late May. I knew right away that I was pregnant before I took the test. There was no way I could have a baby at 20 -- I was emotionally, spiritually, financially a mess.

I didn't tell him. I didn't tell anyone. I went to the clinic alone, and spoke with a counselor over a period of a week. Each time I walked towards the clinic doors, I had to pass an older man terrorizing the sidewalk with a megaphone and posters of mutilated babies. I knew this man would never understand how conflicting this choice was for me. I wanted to try to explain, but felt that with certain people, I would never be heard.

I was lucky, though. My counselor was also a chaplain, and very gentle with me. She held my hand during the whole procedure. I chose to have a local anesthetic. I wanted to remember every moment. 8 years later, I still think about this baby and wonder who it would be now. But I don't regret moving on with my life. That summer, I shared with my ex what had happened. He sent me a flowering tree.

The second abortion was much much worse. I was 24 and had slept with this man twice. We were both drunk and careless, and the second time, he assumed that I was on the pill, which I wasn't at the time. It was over before I had a moment to think. I felt nothing for this man and now I had to get an abortion. The thought of it made me sick in my heart, but I knew I couldn't have this baby. I ended up at a clinic in the city. It was a terrible treadmill kind of place. I started sobbing on the operating table, but was determined to go through with it. The doctors tried to be supportive. I can't imagine that this was an easy job for them. It was awful, but not as awful as having a child with someone I barely know. I never told him, and haven't spoken with him since that night.

Regardless of the kind of experience, I wish there was a way in our culture to mourn more openly after an abortion. Creating a life is something I haven't yet been ready to do, even if my body has been ready for a while. I'm thankful I still have a choice about when, how and with whom I can start a family. It's something I feel I will honor in the right way when, I hope, the time comes.