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"For Audrey"

Poem by Susanna from Georgia, USA

Written September 1st, 2021: the day an abortion ban became law in the State of Texas

I was 30 years old.
I was married.
We were happy.
We were established.
Our 401k runneth over.
We decided to start a family.
I got pregnant right away.
Like right away.
We were over the moon.
I kept a journal of every day of the magic.
I got a bump.
I felt our baby kick.
I embraced it fully.
I rejected tests because "it won't change our path"
Emily sent out baby shower invitations.
The nursery was under way.

And then.

I'm almost halfway there!
I'm 18 and a half weeks pregnant.
The doctor called.
It was 7pm.
I was out at dinner with my friend Deb.
I stepped outside.
The day before on a whim I agreed to a blood test.
"There's probably nothing to worry about but we need you to come in. There's a 1 in 36 chance something is wrong"
I called Liza sobbing.
My sister told me to lay out 36 straws and see that there's still such a good chance that everything is fine.
I didn't sleep.
We drove up to Forsyth because that was the first available amniocentesis.
The needle was long.
The room was dark.
The news was really bad.
I changed in that moment forever.

It's a girl!
We had named her Audrey.
Audrey Roesel — the girl who will make me a mom.

She was missing her nasal bone.
Her kidneys were tiny.
Her heart was missing a chamber.
She had an extra chromosome.
Part of her brain wasn't formed.
Her head was growing at a rate 4x faster than her limbs.

I want to be a mom.
This is my girl.
This situation could really hurt my body.
She will be in immeasurable pain.
I didn't understand "incompatible with life"
I cried.
I cried some more.
I was already a mom.
Moms keep their children from pain.

Time is ticking.
I'm 19.5 weeks now.
We are in Georgia.
There's a time limit, you know.
It's Labor Day now.
Doctors go on vacation.
Somehow the world around us keeps on.
Not for me.

In the interest of time...
They sent me to an abortion clinic.
At an abortion clinic.
After 20 weeks, it's illegal, you know.
It's the night before.
I ran a bath.
I said goodbye to my daughter in that tub.
Just the two of us before the world turned upside down.

Did you know...
You have to go 2 days in a row?
1 to dilate
1 for a D&E
It was brutal emotionally.
It hurt physically.
I begged to be put under.

A kind doctor took my hand.
His hands were large and warm.
He told me I would be a mom one day.
He was an angel.
I woke up in a group recovery room.
In a recliner. Next to a young girl.

Maybe 13.

She was also recovering.

I took her hand.

My milk came in.
Nobody told me.
It hurt in my body and my soul.
I grieved. Hard.
For months and months.
I held onto a teddy bear the size of a newborn.
I ached everywhere inside and out.
It was a fluke they said.

Fast forward four months.
Pregnant again.
First ultrasound.
Baby’s gone.
Go to the hospital for D&C.
This is also considered abortion.
They tested the tissue.
It was a boy!
Chromosomes were normal.
Isn’t that good news?
Grief ensued.
So did genetic testing B and me.

I’m not ashamed.
I never was.
I’m what abortion looks like.
So is the 13 year old girl in that recovery room.

In Texas we’d be criminals.

Access to safe abortion is a woman’s right.
And abortion is a decision to be made between a woman, her doctor, her family, and her god.
...Not a majority white male cohort of politicians

who don't understand the nuanced reality and gravity of ending a pregnancy.

And your judgement?
It matters not.

Audrey Roesel Set Free.jpg

"For Audrey" Poem & Image Copyright © by Author; published on with permission.

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