Saying Grace: Opening your minds, hearts and hands

I normally avoid politics in this column, but I believe that today’s subject is not merely a political issue, but a moral one.

When I was a little girl, my mother took me to pro-life rallies at the State House in Annapolis.

My memories, dark and stressful, include protesters from both sides screaming at one another and graphic images emblazoned on poster board.

The people at these rallies believed whole-heartedly in their cause, but their aggressive approach only caused the other side to become more firmly entrenched in their respective worldviews.

It is time for a different approach. One where both sides come together with open minds, hearts and hands. Where we step back and look at this cultural defining issue with fresh eyes. Where we pay less attention to numbers and statistics and instead allow the very real, very human stories to guide us.

And so, today, I am not going to tell you how you should think or what laws we need to repeal or pass. I am merely going to share my story and trust you, my dear reader, to listen with your heart.

When my water broke at 25 weeks gestation with my first daughter, I was in more danger of losing my life than she was. I spent two and a half weeks on bedrest in a high-risk perinatal unit having my temperature and blood pressure checked every four hours day and night.

As soon as there were signs that an infection was setting in, I was rushed into the OR for an emergency C-section. It took one hour for them to deliver her after making the decision that we would both be in danger if she were to stay in the womb.

Just shy of 28 weeks gestation, she was hurried away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where she was cared for by an incredible team of doctors and nurses for 89 days. I am thankful to live in a country that possesses the most advanced technology in the world when it comes to meeting the needs of premature infants.

During my stay in the High Risk Unit and the NICU, I met other women with stories similar to mine. They became my friends, friends who had experienced dangerously high blood pressure, heart attacks, and various other medical issues that put their lives in danger. The solution to our health crises was to deliver our babies and care for them in the NICU.

Each one of us who were in the hospital for any length of time before delivery was informed that we would most likely need an emergency C-section when the time came. We were even taken to the NICU for a tour so that we would know what to expect once our babies were born.

The mothers who were in medical distress when they were brought in were rushed to the OR for an emergency C-section after which their babies joined ours in the safety and security of isolettes built to protect fragile new lives when our bodies could no longer do so.

During our 89-day stay in the NICU, I watched premature babies smile at their caretakers, listened to them cry when they were in pain, and celebrated each milestone they achieved on their journey home.

These babies became my heroes. They were warriors who fought with every once of their tiny being to stay alive and fulfill their purpose in this world. My 2-pound, 9-ounce daughter possessed the strength to endure and a will to live that I wouldn’t have thought possible in one so small.

Despite her rough start, she is now a thriving 12-year-old little girl who loves to read books and write historical fiction stories. But the most important story she will ever write will be with her life. It is my prayer that hers will be one that will make this world a better place for generations of babies to come.

Heather Ablondi is a women’s ministry speaker and author who lives in Fredericksburg. You can contact her through her website,

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