In 1977, Melissa Ohden survived a saline infusion abortion. Now she is the founder of The Abortion Survivors Network, an organization that exists to educate the public on abortion survivors and to offer support to those who’ve survived failed abortions.
In August 2014, Ohden welcomed her second daughter, Ava, into the world. Unfortunately, immediately after Ava was born she had to be rushed to the NICU because she had fluid on her lungs. As LifeNews previously reported, Ava also turned blue during a crying spell and doctors wanted to keep her for observation.
Ohden said, “Over the course of the next few days, Ava was found to be healthy overall, with her blue spell likely stemming from central apnea, which hasn’t occurred since then, thankfully. She was also diagnosed with laryngomalacia, which you may know as a floppy larnyx, which she will grow out of.”
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In a recent article, she opened up about what it was like to tell her six-year-old daughter, Olivia, about Ava’s complex medical journey. Initially, she was worried that Olivia wouldn’t know how to respond to the questions others would ask about her little sister’s health issues so she decided to have a conversation with her about it. However, Olivia’s response was remarkable.
Ohden wrote, “My husband and I try to share age-appropriate information about our youngest daughter, Ava’s, health conditions as openly as we can with our oldest daughter, to try and allay her fears and prepare her for the inevitable questions and responses from others about her. Part of our preparation has included equipping her with the words that she might use to help others understand and respect her sister as she grows up. We’ve had lots of conversations over the past seven months of Ava’s life about health issues, individual strengths and differences, how each of us needs help in various ways throughout our lives, yet I was completely unprepared for the depth of the response from Olivia about this recently.”
She said to her daughter, “Olivia, we don’t know what Ava is going to continue to face as she gets older. Chances are she may be a little bit smaller than most other people. It may take her a little while longer than other babies to learn to talk or walk. We don’t know when her feeding tube is going to be removed. What do you think you might say when a friend or even someone you don’t know notices these things about your sister and says something about it?”
Olivia responded, “So what. So what if she’s a little smaller than other people. So what if she eats through a feeding tube. So what if she isn’t crawling or talking like other babies her age. She’s just fine the way she is and everybody’s different.”
Olivia’s priceless response is how we all should respond to those who are “different.” The truth of the matter is whether or not a child is born with complex medical problems like Ava’s, we’re all the same in the most important way— we’re apart of the human family and deserve the utmost respect.
Ohden concluded, “I may never have wanted either of my daughters to experience what they have in the past seven months, but I am so thankful that what I wanted more than anything for them as sisters – a bond, a love, and a deep appreciation for one another’s strengths and needs – are gifts that have been cultivated in the midst of our difficulties. And on the days when I struggle with what Ava is facing and what the future may hold, I now hold tightly to Olivia’s words. ‘So what… she’s just fine the way she is and everybody’s different.’ Thank you, Olivia, for your wise reminder.”