• Caitlin, Salt Lake City

This is not the one. This is not the time.

It was the spring of 2002, my junior year of college, and my boyfriend and I decided to have dinner at Taco Bell. The real purpose of the trip was to stop at the drug store to buy a pregnancy test, but we decided to allow ourselves a few more moments of normalcy before taking this scary step to confront our growing suspicions. Later that night, I watched as the indicator revealed an unmistakable pink plus sign.

I’d imagined many times before how I’d feel when I found out I was pregnant. I’d be in my late twenties, I figured, with my husband at my side, living in a sweet home somewhere beautiful, both of us entirely thrilled that we’d be parents. I’d always known that I would be a mom someday. And the few times I’d talked about abortion with friends, I reasoned that if I were to have an unintended pregnancy, my maternal instinct would kick in, I’d rise to the challenge and raise my child, no matter the hardship.

But that was not what I felt that spring night, looking at the pregnancy test. I did feel a maternal awareness inside me, acknowledging the magnitude of what my body had created: a unique little life that would be forever linked to me. But the maternal voice that accompanied it was unmistakable—a soft, still voice: “This is not the one. This is not the time.”

It has been 18 years since I ended my pregnancy. In that time, I finished college and later went on to earn a master’s degree. I spent three years in the Peace Corps in Africa. I grew, I worked, I moved to new cities. And eventually (a little behind schedule in my mid-thirties), I found myself staring at a pregnancy test, hoping and praying that I would see a pink plus sign. I now live here in Salt Lake with the love of my life in a sweet home (somewhere beautiful!), and in 2019, we welcomed our daughter to the world.

I share this story not to suggest that the past can be written over with shiny new successes, without looking back. Most Decembers, I perform the annual calculation: “I’d have a 5 year old now,” “I’d have a 12 year old now.” I do this not with anguish or regret, but with reverence and respect and gratitude for the life I’ve been afforded, for the family I’ve created, and for the maternal instinct that led me to consider not just the glimmer of life in front of me, but the intensely loved children I’d someday have. Abortion, I’ve learned, is all these things: fear, intuition, loss, gratitude. I hope that my story has helped to shed some light on its complexity.

Caitlin, Salt Lake City

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