A woman who was “left to die” after surviving a botched abortion as an 8-month-old baby has spoken out about her emotional reunion with her birth mother. Melissa Ohden, who is now 40, was born weighing just 2Ib 14oz and was suffering from a series of severe health issues after falling victim to a failed abortion back in 1977.
After surviving the horrifying ordeal, which included nurses discarding her damaged little body in a pile of medical waste and being ordered to “leave the baby in the room to die,” Melissa discovered yet another sickening detail – her own grandmother was one of the nurses supervising the sordid procedure.
It was only when one of the staff heard her crying and had compassion on the tiny baby that she Melissa stood any real chance of survival. She was rushed to intensive care where doctors managed to save her life, though they believed she would grow up hampered by severe learning difficulties and physical disability. They could not have been more wrong. Ohden has gone on to live a healthy life, after being raised by her adoptive parents. But as she grew older, Melissa became increasingly determined to delve into her personal history and discover exactly what happened to her during that fateful day some 40 years ago.
“I was numb with shock. I was angry, scared, and felt so ashamed,” Ohden told iNews of her feelings after being told that she’d survived a failed abortion. “Even guilty for being alive.”
The Iowa native revealed the devastating emotional impact of receiving such appalling news, and admitted that in her teenage years she “turned to sex and alcohol in a futile attempt to numb the pain.”
She added: “On the surface, I got it together and went off to university to study political science. But deep down, the confusion and self-doubt were still eating away at me.”
So, in an effort to deal with her traumatic history, Ohden began the lengthy quest to track down her birth mom. But she quickly came up short. indeed, not even the attaining of her adoption papers could reveal the identity of either birth parent. Instead, Ohden spent weeks trawling through high school yearbooks in a desperate bid to find someone who looked just like her.
Then, aged 30, she achieved some breakthrough:
“I was flicking through a nursing college year book when I saw a woman I suspected was my maternal grandmother – all I had known was my grandparents’ surname and where they had worked,” she explained. “Wracked with nerves, I posted them a letter. My grandfather wrote back. He said me being born alive was not what was supposed to happen that day, which I already knew. He also said I wouldn’t find my birth mother through them because they were estranged from her. There was no further explanation, but I knew something sinister had happened.”
Shortly after this, yet more information came to light. Melissa managed to get hold of her medical records, and, quite astonishingly, administrators had failed to redact the names of her birth parents. Ohden then found that she was living in the very same city as her birth father. She wrote him a letter, but he never responded. Six months later, she discovered his obituary online – her father had recently died. When Melissa managed to contact his brother, he told her that not long before he died, Melissa’s father told him: “I have done something I’m so ashamed of but I can never say what.” Melissa’s biological uncle believes that her dad was too ashamed to reply to his daughter’s letter and passed away with a a cloud of shame hanging over his head.
Still hunting for answers, she pushed on.
Six years later, Melissa’s biological mother’s cousin emailed her. She explained that her parents were “childhood sweethearts” and that the pair were engaged when her mother got pregnant. Then, more shocking details:
“My grandmother hadn’t approved of my mother’s relationship with my father and I learned that the local abortionist was a friend of hers. My grandmother was an educational nurse at Saint Luke’s Hospital in Sioux City, Iowa, where it took place,” Melissa noted. In a vile twist, it turns out that her grandmother personally oversaw the sordid procedure.
Ohden’s birth mother underwent a “saline abortion” – an abortive procedure during which a solution is injected into the uterus with the aim of inducing contractions and expelling the fetus. For this type of abortion method to be used indicated to Melissa that she must have been around 31-weeks-old when she was aborted.
Melissa later discovered that, in fact, her mother had wanted to keep her, and that her signature was forged on the consent forms to put her daughter up for adoption. “It was all such a huge shock,” Ohden recalled of the almost unbelievable new revelations. “I’d spent all those years believing I was unwanted – but I was. My heart ached for my mother for having gone through what she did.”
Then, after 17 years of searching, Melissa was finally able to contact her birth mother. They took things slow, speaking for three years before even discussing the possibility of meeting in person. In May 2016, the pair eventually decided to meet. As you can imagine, it was incredibly emotional, as Melissa recalled:
“That day I wanted to turn away and run when I first saw her walking towards me. It was terrifying. But then we hugged and we both shed tears. I said to her, “It’s been a long time”. She replied, “I was robbed of you”. From then onwards, it felt completely natural. She carries a lot of guilt and regrets but I told her I don’t blame her at all. Nor do I hold any bitterness towards my grandmother – who has now passed away – it would only eat me up inside. We all make mistakes.”
Melissa now has a family of her own – a husband and two daughters. She has become a fierce pro-life campaigner who is using her story to demonstrate just how precious the life of a fragile little human truly is.