“The day that Gabriel was born and you told me about it was the best day of my life.” I dropped the laundry that I was folding and turned to Olivia as she said this recently, my heart in my stomach.
Just over a year has passed since we lost our son, Gabriel, through a miscarriage at 11 weeks, and I had thought that Olivia was more than well aware of what had happened (as well aware as a four-year-old can be).
But now this?
I took a deep breath and crouched down beside her to look her in the eye and embrace her .
“Olivia, sadly Gabriel was never born. He died while he was still in my belly.” Of all of the things that Olivia had said this past year that pulled at my heart when it came to the subject of her brother and my miscarriage, this was, by far the worst. Or so I thought. Until she uttered the most amazing reply to me.
Her hands placed firmly on her hips, she retorted, “He was TOO born! The day that he started growing in your belly is the day that he was born. And it WAS the best day of my life when you told me.”
Holding back the flood of tears that had welled up in my eyes and that I was frankly too shocked to shed, I hugged her tightly and thanked her for reminding me of that very important point. And I meant it. Not that I’ve ever for a questioned for a second the humanity of our son during his short time with us on this earth, but I needed to be reminded that while many people in our world fail to acknowledge the sanctity of life from the moment of conception, Olivia knows this truth full well. The day that Gabriel was conceived is the day that his life began.
Olivia’s heartfelt response about her brother that recent evening has further bolstered my strength in pro-life work and reassured me that all of our discussions about Gabriel and the miscarriage, all of the ways both big and small that we remember him and his place in our family, have been not only heard by Olivia but have also come to be both felt and understood by her, too.
As parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, siblings, friends, we have both a great responsibility and an amazing opportunity when it comes to instilling children with pro-life values and helping them in forming their beliefs. I can only imagine how different my life would be if my parents and extended family would have raised me to believe that my birthmother’s failed abortion with me was simply an anomaly that occurred during her ‘right to choose.’ I can only imagine how different I would be today if they had raised me to believe that I wasn’t anything more than a clump of tissue or blob of cells until after I was delivered and it was discovered that the abortion had failed.
And I can only imagine how different Olivia’s life, how different our family would be, if we didn’t integrate our pro-life beliefs into every aspect of our lives. Being a pro-life speaker and advocate isn’t something that I do, it’s who I am. It’s how I live. My husband, Ryan, and I have committed ourselves to raising Olivia in a way in which being pro-life will be an integral part of who she is, and I am so blessed to see her living in such a way that reflects this every day. From talking about her brother in Heaven, to sleeping with a full set of fetal models by her bed, to performing acts of kindness for strangers, to praying for women, children and families in need, Olivia shows compassion and understanding for all lives, regardless of their circumstance or situation each day.
I look forward to the opportunities that arise each day to help build upon Olivia’s existing values and beliefs, and although I would personally like to slow time down some days, as kids grow up so very fast, I look forward to seeing how Olivia continues to live out her pro-life beliefs as she gets older.
I can’t imagine not having a child that so powerfully corrected me about her brother’s birth in the womb. I can’t imagine not having a child that often asks if Jesus knows that babies like Gabriel only drink bottles for a long time when they come to Him in Heaven. I can’t imagine not having a child who prayed and waited ever so impatiently for a full set of fetal models because the smallest ones were just not enough for her, who performs adoptions for them regularly, because, in her words, ‘every baby should live and every baby deserves a family.’
Although every day is an opportunity to live out our pro-life values and help instill them in the children in our lives, I believe this Advent season provides great opportunities for pro-life individuals to acknowledge the sanctity of every life from the moment of conception, to put our beliefs into action , and to help instill and further build upon these values in the young people around us. What better way to prepare for Christ’s birth than to live our lives and help those around us live their lives in a way that shows respect for every life, every person, regardless of circumstance or situation.
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Here’s just a few things we have done at our house so far this Advent season to further build upon Olivia’s pro-life values and help her put them into action:
- Picking out the name of senior citizen from a local nursing home and providing them with a blanket that they had requested
- Creating a memorial area in our house for the angel sculpture that we acquired to symbolize Gabriel and his forever place in our family
- Reading scripture and using the nativity scene to act out the Christmas Story
- Using key phrases that she can easily repeat, share with others, and put into action that remind her of the ‘reason for the season,’ like: “it’s not about getting, it’s about giving”
- Picking out a toy for a child in need and writing them a card
- Donating in our family name to a pregnancy center and adoption agency and involving Olivia in the process
- This week, we will be heading to a local pregnancy center and washing their fetal models….Olivia is a pro at it, and we know that they are in need of having it done.
What a gift it is to put our pro-life beliefs into action! We not only make a difference in the lives of others and thereby show them and the world what it truly looks like to be pro-life, but we are further building upon the foundation of our daughter’s character as one who is pro-life. I hope that you continue to join us in doing the same for the young people in your life.
LifeNews.com Note: As the survivor of a failed abortion attempt in the U.S. in 1977, Melissa Ohden now puts a face to abortion around the world, and gives a voice to the unborn children who lose their lives to abortion every day.