Recovering from a pregnancy or infant loss is one of the most difficult experiences a parent can face. Ashley Opliger knows this firsthand. That’s why she decided to start an organization dedicated to supporting families who have lost a baby. With each cradle, Bridget’s Cradles brings hope and healing to parents.
Meet Ashely Opliger: cradle maker
(Ashley rolls a cart carrying boxes while talking on the phone)
Ashley Opliger: Hey, Sarah. I’m on my way over to bring some cradles, some boxes.
Sarah: How many?
Ashley: Uh… One, two, three… five?
(A map of the United States shows pins indicating the places Ashley has mailed cradles.)
All of these boxes will be going out to hospitals all across the country. Just looking through here, I see Tennessee, Texas, Pennsylvania, Kansas City. I just bring them up to the post office and they get mailed out every week.
Ashley created Bridget’s Cradles after the loss of her daughter.
They create cradles for families grieving the loss of a baby.
(Ashley rolls the cart of boxes and loads them into the back of her car.)
A lot of people ask me how I’m able to do something that seems so sad, full-time. They wonder: Well, wouldn’t that make you more sad after the loss of Bridget? Actually, it’s the opposite for me. It actually brings me a lot of joy.
(Ashley stands in front of a wall decorated with large pictures of families with their infants.)
This is our memorial wall, and really, this is the most important part of our headquarters. I know that to some, seeing her picture in a cradle when she’s already passed away would seem very sad or maybe even morbid, but for me, that’s my daughter. That’s the only way I’ve ever been able to see her or love on her, and so I love to see her picture. I love to see her and be reminded of her sweet little face.
(People write names of infants on paper butterflies and pin them to a bulletin board.)
The way I look at it is God himself has comforted me, and so I want to help comfort others with that same comfort He’s given. It’s me sitting with them and having a conversation.
(Women sit in a circle in chairs as Ashley speaks to the group.)
That’s traumatic, that’s heartbreaking, it’s anxiety-provoking, it’s depressing. It’s all these things.
You can share as much or as little as you want to. We’ll never put anyone on the spot, but we also want you to feel comfortable to share whatever is on your heart.
(Women chat as they work at a table preparing cradles.)
So we serve together. It’s a time of fellowship. We can just talk as we’re working on tagging cradles or laminating things, hole-punching tags, whatever it is that we have going on.
We’ve spent a lot of time planning these details and getting feedback from hospitals and from families themselves.
(Ashley shows off one of the cradles.)
So each cradle, like I mentioned, has a cross at the foot of the cradle. Inside, there’s a little tapered blanket. Here we have what we call a memory keepsake — it’s either a square or a heart — as well as a short letter to the family expressing our condolences.
(The women stack the keepsakes and then stand in a circle holding hands in prayer.)
We pray that you would just be with them as they walk this journey and that we would be able to share the hope with them should they come through these doors. So, God, I just pray all these things in your name. Amen.
(Women shake hands and hug goodbye.)
(Ashley shows an order list to one of the volunteers.)
Ashley: And this one, they are an OB office that needs the memory keepsakes.
Volunteer: Okay, just the keepsakes.
Volunteer: Okay, all right. Thank you.
(The volunteer gathers cradles and packs them into boxes.)
(Ashley arrives at the post office and unloads boxes from her car.)
Ashley: Hi, Sarah. These three on the bottom are the hearts.
Sarah: And they’re separate?
Ashley: Yeah, separate.
(Ashley drops boxes off at the post office.)
Thank you so much. Sounds good, thank you. Thank you, bye.
(Ashley speaks to another volunteer.)
Ashley: And you could do a little charm, like a heart, or a teddy bear, or an angel.
Woman: Okay. So do you want me to put this on the other end?
Ashley: Yeah, if you want to, and then put the cross on that side.