You Carried Me: A Daughter’s Memoir (Walden, New York: Plough Publishing House, 2017)

I saw my graMelissa Ohden memoir about being an abortion survivornddaughter Lucy’s face for the first time on an ultrasound when her mom was about 20 weeks pregnant. The clarity of her facial features took my breath away. I fell in love at first sight!

I couldn’t help but think of my experience with baby Lucy when I read Melissa Ohden’s powerful memoir, You Carried Me. Her birth mother was farther along in her pregnancy than when my daughter-in-law had her ultrasound. The circumstances were tragic. Melissa’s mother had a failed abortion. Instead of dying from the poisonous saline solution administered to abort her, baby Melissa was born alive, weighing in at 2 lbs. 14.5 oz. She was adopted by a loving couple who were willing to take on the special needs Melissa might have as a result of the botched abortion. Miraculously, Melissa had no long-term medical complications. 

She discovered at age fourteen that she was an abortion survivor. Melissa had known from an early age that she had been adopted. Finding out that she was aborted and then survived, threw her into an emotional tailspin. Her courage to persevere in the midst of heartbreaking circumstances is inspiring. As a young adult, Melissa began a decade-long search for the truth about her birth and her birth parents. The outcome is nothing short of miraculous. At times while I was reading this book (which I could hardly put down), I had to remind myself “this is a true story.”

Melissa is honest and straight-forward as she tells her story, yet she’s careful to protect the identity of her birth parents. The level of healing and forgiveness the author has experienced in dealing with circumstances clearly out of her control, is a testimony to her faith. It seems Melissa’s life was spared for a greater purpose–to become a voice for the unborn and an advocate for women, men, and children impacted by abortion.

Forever Changed, Forever Grateful

I was 18-years-old when I found out I was pregnant with our son, Chris. Randy and I were very much in love, and we were both excited about becoming parents, but fear of the unknown brought a lot of apprehension.

Movies always showed women writhing in pain during childbirth. I’ve got nine months before I have to deal with that, I convinced myself, trying to muster up some courage. A friend who had recently become a mom, reassured me there was nothing to it. Having a baby wasn’t nearly as traumatic as Hollywood portrayed. I wanted to believe her, but somehow I knew she was holding out on me. Several months into my pregnancy, I realized there was no turning back. Once I made it through childbirth, our lives would be forever changed by a tiny life joining ours.

On a February day 39 years ago, Robert Christian arrived, and yes, our lives were forever changed by this amazing miracle of God’s creation. It didn’t take long for romantic notions about motherhood to wear thin.  Chris had colic and usually cried all night. Randy and I took turns walking back and forth with Chris across our postage stamp apartment trying to quiet our squalling infant. I’m not sure how we survived those early parenting days. Parenthood is not for the fainthearted.

Three years later, Jeremy Barret joined our family. Another indescribable blessing. As much as I loved our sons, I was astounded by the amount of time and work it took to be a mom. While my friends were busy pursuing academic goals and their careers, I was watching Sesame Street and reading Green Eggs and Ham, Sam-I-Am. I packed more lunch boxes than I can count and sat on bleachers watching every imaginable sporting event.

We survived chicken pox, wisdom tooth extractions, colds, the flu. Chris learned to play electric guitar while Jeremy attempted to master the bassoon. Years passed as quickly as the more seasoned moms had predicted. Why hadn’t I believed them? One day I was sitting at grade school Christmas programs, then at high school graduations, and then unbelievably walking past empty bedrooms with that hard-to-swallow lump in my throat. 

I observe our now-grown sons, more keenly aware that the opportunity to influence a child is the most demanding, most heartrending, most rewarding job a woman may have in her lifetime.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Becoming pregnant at such a young age wasn’t convenient. We weren’t ready. We certainly weren’t mature enough to understand what being a parent requires. Yet there is no way to describe the depth of love we have for our sons and the pride we feel for the men they have become.  Amazing that God entrusts us with the precious commodity of life! I am forever grateful.