Abortion/ Adoption: Miracle Birth
We all have heard sweet birth stories that warm our hearts. Melissa Ohden tells her miraculous birth story of being a baby, who survived an abortion, and how that story has impacted her life.
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We all have heard sweet birth stories that warm our hearts. Melissa Ohden tells her miraculous birth story of being a baby, who survived an abortion, and how that story has impacted her life.
Abortion/ Adoption: Miracle Birth
Dave: I almost missed the birth of our first son.
Ann: That’s right! You totally were gone.
Dave: Go ahead; tell them where I was.
Dave: I don’t want to admit it.
Ann: This is our first child. The nurse tells me, after checking me, “Oh, honey, you’re going to be here, at least, 24 hours.” Dave takes it as like, “I’m out of here”; and he goes—
Dave: I mean, it isn’t like I left the hospital; but I thought, “You know, I’ve got to go take care of business; so I’ll just go read a magazine somewhere.”
Ann: Twenty minutes later, I’m by myself; it’s three in the morning. All of a sudden, I’m thinking, “I’m having this baby right now.” No one’s there; and I’m yelling, “DAVE, DAVE!”; and no one’s coming. I’m clicking the nurse; finally she comes in. I said, “I’m having the baby!” Yes, I think you did finally make it.
Dave: Well, I came running—I mean, I am halfway down a hospital hall, so it was a long way—you were yelling so loud. [Laughter]
Ann: I was all by myself!
Dave: I was like, “Oh my goodness; I better get out of here.” I go running in there—and CJ was born, our first—and it was pretty traumatic.
Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.
Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on our FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today.
Dave: So I almost missed the birth of our first, and it was pretty traumatic.
Ann: —very traumatic.
Dave: —very traumatic.
But I mean, as being parents of three sons, and now grandkids, you learn every birth is a miracle. So today—I mean, I’ve never had a person like this in the studio—I’m looking across at a miracle. We know that with every guest that comes in, but your story—Melissa Ohden is with us—and it’s a miracle. So welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Melissa: Thank you. If it makes you feel any better, my husband almost missed the birth of our second child; he went down for lunch.
Ann: Come on!
Dave: Oh, yes?
Melissa: For real.
Dave: What happened?
Melissa: They didn’t think that I was close to delivering her, and he went down for lunch. They came back to check me—panic, panic—“Don’t move an inch,” “Don’t breathe,” “Don’t think.”
Ann: Same thing that I had.
Melissa: And he just barely made it for the birth of—[Laughter]—and our first child took me forever to deliver; it was a long hard delivery. [Laughter]
Ann: Unbelievable, but he made it.
Melissa: He made it.
Ann: Melissa, did you feel like that?—like, “This child is a miracle.”
Melissa: Oh, absolutely. I think, by and large, our world understands it in our heart; but I think sometimes it gets lost in translation in our culture.
Dave: It’s interesting, as I said, this is the first time we’ve ever had a story like yours. I read your book, which is a great book called You Carried Me: A Daughter’s Memoir.
I’m just going to let you tell the story. I know you have a master’s in social work. You deal with—well you’re going to tell us—but I think the only way to start this program is just to say: “What’s your story?”
Ann: Oh, wait; so you’re keeping the listener in suspense.
Dave: Oh, yes; I just want you to start the story.
Ann: Okay, listeners, I just want to say, “Pull up close, because you’re going to want to hear this. This is one of those stories that is so miraculous you’re not going to want to miss this.”
Melissa: And I always would preface it to say I know some of my story is hard for people to hear, because of their own experiences; but I hope that, as I share my story, people see God’s hand in my life; and they realize that, as unique as my story may be, there is so much grace; and it’s about love, and it’s about forgiveness, and it’s about the plans and the purpose that God has for every life.
Ann and Dave: Yes.
Melissa: I was sharing with somebody earlier today: “I wish I could share my story and simply allow people to always see God’s plan in it.” But sometimes, our culture hears stories like mine and somehow attempts to shame us for having this story when it’s a story we didn’t have any control over.
I am literally a baby, who survived a failed abortion—I’m 44 years old now; I’ll age myself very quickly and get that out of the way for your audience—[Laughter]—but I survived a failed abortion. We live in a world that somehow says: “That doesn’t happen; and if it does happen, it must be so incredibly rare. And if you do have this story, you should probably not speak about it publicly; because it makes people uncomfortable, because maybe they’ve had an experience with abortion”; or somehow this is a political thing. At the end of the day, it sends a message to people, who have stories like mine, to say, “You don’t belong here.” But God intends for each and every one of us to belong.
My story started 44 years ago in a little town in Sioux City, Iowa. That is when my birth mother, Ruth, found herself facing an unplanned pregnancy. Ruth was in college; she was 19 years old. She was engaged to my biological father; I didn’t know that for a really long time. They had dated all throughout high school, into college, were in love—probably thought they had the world at their feet—and didn’t know that they had become pregnant with me. Ruth had been heavily involved in sports/didn’t realize the signs of being pregnant. Her mother, who was an ob-gyn nurse, saw those signs in her, finally, that her body was changing.
Dave: So her mother saw it before Ruth even knew?
Melissa: She did; can you imagine?
Melissa: So she’s confronted by her mom, who says, “Hey, I think you’re pregnant.” “What?” I can’t imagine how much trauma that was for her. And then the trauma just continued, because they learned very quickly that she was pregnant.
Sadly, my grandparents were not supportive of an unplanned pregnancy back in 1977 in their community. It didn’t fit the profile that they had in the community; it didn’t fit the profile of them being in their church every Sunday. I share that, not to cast blame or shame upon them, but because I hear this story in so many families. Within days, my grandmother sat my biological parents down and literally screamed at them, from what the family has been able to share with me. Ultimately, she made it very clear to them that there was one option and that was abortion.
Within days, they forced a saline infusion abortion upon Ruth. She was placed in the hospital, where my grandmother was involved as a nurse. She oversaw the education of a lot of young nurses at that hospital. They bypassed hospital regulations and procedures. She should have gone before a therapeutic committee at the time, saying why she needed a late-term abortion.
Dave: How many months?
Melissa: The abortionist wrote on my medical record she was probably 18-20 weeks pregnant with me, but the fact that I weighed a little less than three pounds made it clear to those medical professionals that she was probably more like 31 weeks. That’s what’s included in my medical records.
Ann: And full term is 37-40 weeks, so you were much further along than 18 weeks.
Melissa: I was a whopping two pounds fourteen ounces,—
Melissa: —but much further along, gestation-ally, than what they had expected.
I know abortion is not ever pleasant to hear about or talk about; but for those who aren’t aware of what that procedure involved, that saline infusion abortion was the most common abortion procedure back in the 1970s.
Ann: What is that procedure?
Melissa: It involved injecting a toxic salt solution into the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby in the womb. The intent of that toxic salt solution was to poison and scald the child to death, usually lasted about 72 hours. If the child was fortunate enough, their life was ended within 24 hours; and then the rest of the time was just spent inducing labor. It’s a horrific procedure for a child to undergo; it’s a horrific procedure for a woman to undergo. I’ve talked to so many women, who have shared their stories, courageously, with me and said they could feel their child fighting for life.
We know, through my medical records, that it was a horrific procedure for Ruth and I—not for 24 hours or 3 days—it was actually 5.
Ann: So the mental anguish of your birth mom, too, must have been horrific.
Melissa: Yes; mental anguish, physical pain. We now know that they really thought she might lose her life in the midst of that abortion procedure, because it was dragging on for so long. It was a risky procedure, in and of itself, in the first place.
Ann: You were literally fighting for your life.
Melissa: I was.
Melissa: By all intents and purposes, they really thought the abortion had been successful, especially after five days: "Keep trying,” “Keep trying,” “More solution,” “More solution.” So on the fifth day of the abortion procedure, they induced Ruth’s labor, finally.
I’m sure they were grateful that it was over; but really, my story was just beginning. Because that day, when they finally induced her labor, I was accidently born alive. I have a day that I celebrate as my birthday that is the day that I was accidently born alive.
Dave: And yet, your mom doesn’t know you’re alive.
Melissa: Who would have thought?
Ann: I have to say, the first time that I heard your story and I saw your face—I wish you listeners could see Melissa—she’s beautiful. We’re all beautiful, because we’re God’s creation; but the first time I saw you, and I thought, “Oh, this is the face of a child that was aborted,”—like—“We would have never seen this beautiful face; and you have a voice, and you have a purpose.” I was teary, watching you, thinking, “I’ve never seen the face of a person that has survived an abortion.” I thought “What a loss to not have you here.”
Melissa: Thank you. That makes me emotional; because, you know, we have tens of millions of children, who have remained nameless, and faceless, and voiceless. I’m a mother myself, and not a day goes by, that I don’t look at my children and think, “Wow! What if that abortion would have been successful? My children never would have existed.” That is a pain like no other pain.
Ann: Right; and so you’re born. Your birth mom thinks that you’ve died—that the abortion was successful—so now, she’s in her own trauma of trying to heal and get past this. What happened? Did they whisk you away?
Melissa: Yes; my life story has been a long and winding road—a bit like a roller coaster probably more than a long and winding road—[Laughter]—but I now know that, when I was born alive that day, there were demands made to leave me to die. I mean, I know, again, as I shared, parts of my story are incredibly hard for people to hear.
Dave: Just in case people are wondering—we don’t need to know the details—but you actually later went and found your mom, and that’s why you know these details. We’ll get to that later; but some people are like, “How in the world do you know all this?”
Melissa: Yes, exactly.
Dave: You went on a journey—we’ll hear about it later—so take us back.
Ann: Well, not only did she know and meet her mom, but she met the nurse.
Melissa: Yes, I’ve met medical professionals or had communication with them to know the rest of the story. I love seeing how God intersects all of our lives and says: “Truth,” and “More truth,” and “Here’s more truth, Melissa.”
But yes, we now know that my grandmother is the one who demanded I be left in that hospital room to die. At least, one nurse—a tall blond nurse—rushed me off to the NICU at that hospital.
Dave: —because she saw you gasping.
Melissa: Yes; I truly believe that’s why I am alive today, because God knew who needed to be working that day. They started to provide medical care; they prayed for me. They saw God’s/just God’s wondrous work in me. [Emotion in voice] I mean, to me, that’s the part that makes me emotional; because they were the first people to truly see me and show that respect for me. They provided medical care that sustained my life.
I suffered from severe respiratory and liver problems, seizures. They thought I had a fatal heart defect. The prognosis for my life was very poor. But little could I have known that Ruth was told that day it had been successful. Before I was taken out of the room, she was told: “It’s hideous,” “It’s a monster,” “Don’t look at it.”
Melissa: She spent over 30 years of her life with incredible regret, so she was living in her own place of trauma while my story continued. I didn’t know my story for a long time.
We all have untold stories.
Ann: Yes, we do.
Melissa: Families have secrets.
Dave: Oh, yes.
Ann: Yes; I think there’s a lot of secrets, and there’s shame attached to those secrets. I think that the enemy wins when we never share our secrets, because we think it’s the greatest horror story. God says, “I’m going to bring hope to the world with your story if you let it out into the light.”
Ann: And that’s what you’re doing.
Dave: Do you know that nurse’s name?
Melissa: I don’t know the tall blond nurse that rushed me in, but I have a relationship with a nurse who received me there in the NICU that day. And I have a relationship with another nurse volunteer, when I was transferred to another hospital.
I now have another nurse in my life, who was very young at the time, and asked why I didn’t have a name when I was a couple of months old: “Why is this baby here?” and “Why doesn’t she have a name?” They told her about what I had survived, and they gave me a name at the hospital; they named me Katie Rose. But she came looking for me in the last ten years. We met, face to face; and she was a huge support to me when I went through my younger daughter having a lot of health issues. She was there for me.
Ann: Is she the one that knit you booties? Didn’t someone bring you booties?
Melissa: Those nurses at that hospital, yes, knitted me little baby booties that my daughters used to put on their dolls. I still have my little, tiny diaper. We all want to be remembered; don’t we? I mean, we do. I think we’re a world full of people—who want people to see us, hear us, acknowledge us, remember us—and that can be dysfunctional, I think, in many ways; but at the heart of the matter, what they did in remembering me was life-giving.
Ann: The thing that I’m looking at, too, is God’s hand, where He’s putting people around you; like, “Maybe she wasn’t wanted in this situation,”—but even your birth mother wanted you—“but I’m still going to put people around Melissa, who are My angels kind of on the earth that are going to love her, see her, provide for her.” Isn’t that sweet of God?
I think we all have that thought, like, “Did God ever see what I was going through? Did He know? Was He there?” And yes, I think the answer is: “Yes, He’s always been there and sees us.”
Melissa: Yes; that was one of the most intense conversations that Ruth and I ever had—was she had questioned and said, “If there is a God, Melissa—because you talk about Him all the time—but if there is a God, where was He when I needed Him?”
It was just so heartbreaking for me; but I just remember taking a deep breath and saying, “He was there all the time. If it wasn’t for Him, we wouldn’t be here today.” But when you’re in the midst of that struggle and that pain, of course, we have those moments, where we go, “Really, Lord, where are You right now?! Because this isn’t what I thought it would look like. This isn’t what I thought it would feel like.” He’s still there in the midst of it.
Dave: Yes; I don’t know—and you don’t know her name—but I think all you know is she’s a tall blond, I guess, the nurse?
Dave: I think of her being like an angel. That’s where God was; He was right there.
I think there’s times in our life, where we are the tall blond—in situations, where we feel a nudge; or we see a situation, and somebody needs to act—and it’s so easy to turn and walk; or think somebody else will; or “I don’t want to get involved.”
Ann: —or “This is too messy; I should just walk away.”
Dave: I mean, I can imagine she might have even thought: “This baby is supposed to be left here. What am I doing? I’m actually interrupting something that’s already been started.” And yet, God used that woman; [otherwise] you’re not here today and your daughters aren’t here today, and we’re not sitting here right now.
I thought: “How many times in my life have I been that person—where I see something, and instead of saying, ‘I’m going to do something to be the hand and feet of God,’—I often have turned and not even knowing the ramifications of, if I would have acted, something beautiful could have been done?”
I think our listener needs to realize it could be you. Maybe there’s a listener right now, that already knows what God has spoken or nudged them to do; and they’ve said, “No, no, no; it’s too scary” or “I don’t know what’s going to happen.” I think that tall blond nurse, whoever she was, is a message to us—it’s like Isaiah 6—“Here I am Lord, send me. I’m not going to ask You to send somebody else. You’re sending me; I’m going to step in there. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I know You’re leading me; so I know the results are going to be Your plan.”
Ann: It’s much like Esther; you know, she was born for “such a time as this.” I was actually walking this morning and praying; because I knew that we were going to talk to you, Melissa, and hear your story. I thought about that, like: “Lord, I want You to use me. I want wherever You want me to be,”—like—“Help me to say, ‘Yes,’ and to know that prodding of Your Spirit when You want me to walk into situations or when You want to use me. Help me to say, ‘Yes,’ in those situations.”
Dave: I think it’s that simple; it’s a “Yes.”
Melissa: It is.
Dave: Just say, “Yes,” when God leads you.
I mean, you’re sitting here right now. I know you’re on your way to another event, where you’re going to stand up and advocate for the unborn; you’ve said, “Yes,” to God’s call on your life.
Melissa: Yes, I often tell people—I call every day a Holy Spirit moment—because I never know where I’m going to be called/what I might say. Don’t we all do this?—where we say something; or we say, “Yes,” to something. You go, “Ohh! The Lord doesn’t ever have it wrong”; and so it is an adventure. I think we are so scared sometimes of faith; but yet, that’s what we are called to.
Dave: I don’t know if it’s the culture now, or if it’s always been true, before we say, “Yes,” to God, we often want to know: “You know, is there a 401K in this?”
Ann: —or “What what’s that going to look like?” “What does that entail?”
Dave: “How’s it going to go?” [Laughter]
Melissa: “How much is this going to hurt?”
Dave: It’s literally Peter in the boat, saying, “Okay, I’m going to step out there; but can You make it solid?”
Ann: “Can you prove that it’s…”; yes.
Dave: But that’s not the adventure. You’re so right, Melissa. It’s like: “Man, I thought when I gave my life to Christ, I was giving up: ‘No, I can’t do this anymore,’ ‘I can’t do that anymore.’ I had no idea, on the other side of that ‘Yes,’ was: ‘Do you realize the adventure?’” I mean, it’s scary at times—
Ann: —and it’s not easy.
Dave: —but it is an adventure. It’s an adventure you don’t want to miss.
Here’s the crazy thing: we’ve only heard the beginning of this story. There’s so much more. I know our listeners are even like, “Well,—
Ann: —“then what happened?”
Dave: —“what happened next?” and “Did you ever get to a place of forgiveness?”—because there’s a lot of hurt here. I’ve just got to say, “We’re out of time, so this is one of these stories that you are going to have to just wait and listen to Part Two next time.”
Thanks for being with us, Melissa.
Melissa: Thank you.
Bob: What a powerful compelling reminder today that, whatever the circumstances of your life/whatever has happened to you—that may have even been evil happening to you—God is still a God of grace, and power, and mercy; and He can transform a life. In fact, that’s what He does; He changes our lives and restores what has been damaged in our lives.
We’ve been hearing today from Melissa Ohden telling her story of God’s redemption. She’s written a book called You Carried Me: A Daughter’s Memoir. We’ve got copies of her book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can go online at FamilyLifeToday.com to request your copy, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, the title of Melissa Ohden’s book is You Carried Me: A Daughter’s Memoir. Order it online at FamilyLifeToday.com, or call 1-800-358-6329 to request your copy; that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Now, we have had something happen, here at FamilyLife, in the last few days that is very exciting and something we want to let you guys know about. We’ve been telling you about a matching-gift fund that was put together for us by some friends of the ministry. They have agreed that, during the month of December, they would match every donation that we receive from listeners, dollar for dollar, up to a total of
Well, in recent days, some other friends have come along and said, “We want to boost that amount. We want to see FamilyLife Today listeners really rally in the last two weeks of the year.” As of today, the matching-gift fund has reached a total of $2.3 million, which means there’s even more opportunity for us to expand the reach of FamilyLife in the new year.
But to take advantage of that, of course, we need to hear from long-time listeners like you. If you’re a regular FamilyLife Today listener; if God has used the ministry of FamilyLife in your life, in your marriage, in your family this year, listening to FamilyLife Today; if that’s been an encouragement or a blessing to you—if you’ve been to one of our events, or used our resources, or gone online to our website—would you consider making as generous a yearend contribution as you could possibly make, and do it today? When you do, whatever amount you donate is going to be matched, dollar for dollar, up to our new total of $2.3 million.
Please pray that we’ll be able to take full advantage of this matching-gift amount, here in the next two weeks. To make a donation, you can go online at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY. When you do, we want to say, “Thank you,” by sending you a copy of Dane Ortlund’s new devotional from the book of Psalms. It’s called In the Lord I Take Refuge, 150 daily devotions, again, from the book of Psalms. That’s our thank-you gift to you when you donate today. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Thanks, in advance, for whatever you are able to do.
And we hope you can join us, again, tomorrow when Melissa Ohden will be here again and will share with us why it is so healthy, and helpful, and important for us to, not only know our stories, but to be able to openly share our stories with others. There’s power in bringing what was in the dark out into the light. We’ll hear more about that tomorrow. We hope you can join us for that.
On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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