By Ashley Opliger
In one unexpected moment, my life changed forever. Over six years ago, I had just finished a speech therapy session with a little boy. I walked him and his mother out the front doors of the outpatient clinic I worked at as a Speech-Language Pathologist.
As we said our goodbyes, I felt a gush of blood run down my leg. My heart sank. I was thirteen weeks pregnant with my first child. What was happening? Was I miscarrying? Panicked, I ran to the bathroom and grabbed a colleague, a good friend, to come in with me.
I called the OBGYN nurse line with fear trembling through my voice. I was so scared. I don't remember what the nurse said, but my friend urged me to go to the ER right away.
She wrapped her sweatshirt around me and drove me to the nearest hospital. Although that drive was somewhat of a blur, I remember she played worship music and remained calm as I sat on her sweatshirt and soaked it in blood.
When I arrived at the hospital, my husband and mom were there to meet me. Once I was lying on the hospital bed, a nurse put a doppler machine on my belly as we anxiously waited to hear our baby's heartbeat. Ba-boom, ba-boom.
We heard those little pitter-patters and knew our baby was still alive. Then a sonographer came in to do an ultrasound.
As she pulled up the black and white moving image on the screen, we could see our baby moving and waving at us. It was such sweet relief to know our baby was okay. But that feeling was quickly overshadowed by bad news.
The sonographer then pointed at a large black space encircling our baby. My womb was hemorrhaging in a place called the chorion (the space between my baby and my uterine wall).
Almost half of this space was bleeding. The doctor came in and diagnosed me with a large subchorionic hemorrhage and told me there was a 50% chance that I would miscarriage.
They suggested I go home on bed rest and take medical leave from work. So that's what I did...for eleven weeks. And every day, I prayed for a miracle: Lord, please let the hemorrhage heal and our baby grow healthy and strong.
But at each appointment we were given more bad news. Our baby, whom we found out was a little girl, was growth restricted and measuring further and further behind on her growth scans. The hemorrhage was getting larger and was now behind the placenta, cutting off essential nutrients.
Despite the poor prognosis, we chose to celebrate her life. So we named her Bridget which was the name I had chosen in the eighth grade to be for my first daughter.
But the weeks on bed rest were some of the hardest of my life. As I lay in bed, anxious and alone, it was hard for me to believe that God would do something good out of my pain. I felt abandoned by God and questioned how He could allow me to go through this. Why wasn't He intervening and saving my daughter's life?
When I was twenty-three weeks, I was hospitalized again due to increased bleeding. I passed several large clots, but was sent home. During this time, God led my mom to knit a little blanket for her granddaughter. The doctors anticipated that Bridget would be born early and small, so my mom wanted to make something to cuddle Bridget that would be her size.
After knitting the blanket, she wondered how she would swaddle such a tiny baby in this small blanket. That's when God gave her the idea to knit the sides up and create a little cradle. She packed it in her hospital bag and prayed.
A week later, Bridget Faith Opliger was born at 10:27 am on October 22, 2014, already in the arms of Jesus (at twenty-four weeks and five days into my pregnancy). The nurses swaddled her in a traditional hospital blanket that was much too large and bulky for her precious little thirteen-ounce body. Although she was so tiny, she was wonderfully made.
Every detail about her was so perfect: her tiny, long fingers, cute button nose, peach fuzz above her lips, and her eyelashes that had already formed. My mom placed her in the cradle, and instantly, it gave us peace in our heartbreak. We could pick her up and love on her. It made it easy for us to hold her and bond with her in the twenty-four hours we had together.
We went home and grieved. In the overwhelming sadness, I had a decision to make. Was I going to believe that Bridget was really in Heaven and that Jesus