Melissa Ohden discovered a startling truth when she was 14 years old: her mother had attempted to abort her. She was found wailing among medical debris in a US hospital, and a nurse who heard her was able to save her. This is the account of both her survival and the mother’s mistaken belief of her demise.
Melissa Ohden, now 41, says on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire program, “I grew up knowing I’d been born prematurely, that I had been adopted.”
“I was unaware that there was a big secret hidden underneath everything. I was born living when I should have been delivered dead.”
Melissa’s mother, at 19 years old, had an abortion performed over the course of five days in a hospital in the US state of Iowa in 1977.
Melissa was born at the age of eight months and was abandoned with medical waste despite weighing less than three pounds (1.3kg).
Until a nurse overheard her trembling cries and flimsy motions.
Despite all odds, Melissa lived after being taken to a critical care unit.
At one point, doctors felt she had a deadly cardiac abnormality and predicted she would go blind.
She was raised by an adoptive family, though, and has since lived a life that is completely healthy.
Melissa acknowledges, “It’s amazing. “Sometimes I pinch myself.”
Melissa, who has written a book about her experiences, claims that she didn’t learn she had survived an abortion until her sister in her adoptive family accidentally revealed it during a heated dispute.
She had yelled, without thinking, “You know Melissa, at least my biological parents wanted me.”
Melissa was initially perplexed, but as the realization set in and she sat down with her adoptive parents, her mental health began to deteriorate.
She says, “I directed my pain inward onto myself.” “It was a desolate location.
“My eating disorder worsened, and I battled alcoholism. I wanted to be someone else.”
Five years later, at the age of 19, she made the audacious choice to find the mother who had aborted her as a result of the mounting pain.
After a search that lasted more than ten years, she eventually located her and learned a shocking revelation.
“The worst mystery is that my birth mother thought I had passed away in the hospital that day for more than 30 years.
“I didn’t tell her that I lived. She was kept in the dark about it, “she claims.
“She was never informed that I was given up for adoption.
She was never aware of whether the child she delivered was a male or a girl.
This is why, three years after they first started emailing, when the two finally met in person, Melissa was most moved by her mother’s “regret,” which she claims haunted her for a while.
She finds it difficult to recall how they originally met, but says “It was really bizarre.
It was one of those events that changed your life forever.
But the surprises kept coming.
Ruth, her birth mother, told her that although she had never intended to have an abortion, she had felt compelled to carry it out due to circumstances.
“I discovered that the abortionist in the area was a friend of my grandma, who also happened to be her mother’s well-known nurse in the neighborhood.
“Together, they essentially coerced my birth mother into having the abortion against her will.
“They were able to avoid the rules and processes that the hospital would have required my birth mother to follow.
People in the hospital assumed it was her decision, and she was unable to defend herself.
Even more improbable was Melissa’s survival because her grandmother, a nurse at the hospital where she was born, had publicly revealed to family members that day that she had told her coworkers to “leave the kid in the room to die.”
In response to her grandmother’s remarks, Melissa adds, “It’s not been easy for me to live with.” “However, I’m not upset with her. In life, we all make mistakes. That doesn’t bother me about her.
She says, “My heart hurts for her because I will always wonder what was going on in her life to make her make that decision on mine.
“Among the luckiest”
In reality, Melissa maintains that she is “one of the luckiest individuals in the world” for having both her adoptive parents and her birth mother in her life, as well as for having lived at all.
By pure coincidence, Melissa now resides in Kansas City along with her birth mother and one of her half-sisters.
Melissa exclaims with excitement that they see one other “as often as we possibly can.”
My biological family plays a significant role in my life.
She finally gets to “feel her elation” after seeing the regret in her mother’s eyes during their initial meeting two years ago.