Ashley Opliger of Bridget’s Cradles on the Value of Life Ahead of Vote on Ohio Issue 1
Time — all she needed was more time. A few more weeks to develop in my womb so that she could have survived birth. But my broken body was working against me and against my precious daughter inside me.
I was rushed to the emergency room 13 weeks into my first pregnancy after I started bleeding heavily. I was diagnosed with a subchorionic hemorrhage, put on bed rest, and given a 50% chance I would miscarry.
I spent the next eleven weeks doing the only thing the doctors told me I could do to keep my daughter safe – rest. I spent those weeks in bed praying to God for a miracle – for the hemorrhage to heal and for my daughter to grow so that she could be born full-term and healthy.
But each sonogram my husband and I received revealed more disheartening news. The hemorrhage was growing larger, and our daughter’s growth was falling further and further behind as the hemorrhage restricted her placenta and umbilical cord.
Despite her poor prognosis, we continued to pray and hope for the best possible outcome. We so desperately wanted to bring our daughter home to raise and love in our family.
At 24 weeks 5 days gestation, my placenta abrupted, and I went into premature labor. Our daughter, Bridget Faith Opliger, was born silently into this world at 10:27 a.m. on October 22, 2014 – her soul already with Jesus in Heaven.
Bridget weighed only 13 ounces and measured 10.5 inches long. Though she was very small, she was perfect and so precious. She had eyelashes, tiny fingernails, and even hair beginning to grow on her head–dark brown just like her Daddy and I.
I held her little hands and noticed she had long fingers just like me. I kissed her button nose and held my lips there in a desperate attempt to freeze time, so my brain could remember what it felt like to kiss her.
In the years after Bridget went to Heaven, we created a nonprofit in her memory called Bridget’s Cradles. It’s named for the small cradle my mom hand-knit for Bridget that allowed us to hold her when she was born.
After realizing hospitals and bereaved families needed a dignified, functional way to hold tiny babies born into Heaven in the second trimester, I left my career as a Speech-Language Pathologist and started Bridget’s Cradles in Bridget’s empty nursery.
Although I was still deeply grieving her, the Lord asked me to surrender my suffering and use my grief for good and His glory.
I have found that serving others in my daughter’s memory has brought incredible healing to my own heart.
We have since moved into our own headquarters, and donate knit and crocheted cradles to over 1,400 hospitals in all 50 states. We also host Christ-centered support groups and remembrance events for grieving moms and families. In my role leading these groups, I’ve had the honor of walking alongside hundreds of women who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss.
Some of these women do not share the same Christian beliefs as me, but the stories of all the mothers I’ve met who have lost babies through miscarriage or stillbirth are woven with a common thread: they miss their babies. They grieve for them.
Deep in their hearts, they know their child’s life has value and meaning. They grieve the hopes and dreams they had for their child’s entire lifetime – because they know if their baby had not died in their womb, they would have eventually grown into a child.
Another common thread I’ve noticed among mothers who have lost a baby due to natural causes —even if they aren’t a believer in Christ — is that all of them would have done anything in their power to save their babies. But, as was the case in my own story, many of these pregnancy complications are outside the mother’s control.
There’s nothing they could have done to prevent it.
However, countless other pre-born babies are at risk of losing their lives today due to a preventable cause: a mother’s choice. Have you noticed, like I have, this dichotomy in our culture that deems pre-born babies’ lives as worthy of living only if their mother wants them?
As Bible-believing Christians, we know that wanted-ness does not determine worthiness. The value of babies – of humans – cannot be so haphazardly assigned based on the emotions and desires of a culture that is decaying in virtue.
There must be a standard Truth: Either life is valuable all the time, or it is not at all.
The only One who has the authority to assign value to human life is the One who has the power to create it. God, who was fully manifest on Earth in His son Jesus, is the Author of life (Acts 3:15 ESV), the maker of Heaven and earth and of all living things (Psalm 146:6; Genesis 1:24-26; Colossians 1:16) – and out of all of His creation He calls us humans His most prized possession (James 1:18).
He created us in His own image (Genesis 1:27) and assigns inherent value to every human at the moment of conception. He calls every pre-born baby “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).
So a pre-born baby’s value cannot be determined by the one carrying their life. Their mother cannot selfishly decide the life inside her is an inconvenience – unwanted and unworthy of life — because her baby’s Heavenly Father has already declared them worthy and loved.
On November 7, Ohio voters will find Issue 1 on their ballots, a bill which would amend the state constitution to allow abortion up until the moment of birth.
As a mom to a 24-week baby in Heaven, I urge you to vote NO on Issue 1 and to use your sphere of influence to encourage others to vote the same. This is a critical opportunity for you and those you know to protect the sanctity of human life and give precious babies in Ohio the chance to be born.
Their lives are counting on you.
For more information on Bridget’s Cradles, visit their website at www.bridgetscradles.com. You can also read our article about Bridget’s Cradles Wave of Light during October Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance month.
Photo credit: Ashley Opliger