You Carried Me: A Daughter’s Memoir is the memoir of someone who is inconvenient. She doesn’t fit anybody’s narrative.
Because she was an inconvenience to her biological grandmother, Melissa Ohden was nearly killed by a saline injection abortion forced on her mother. But, after three days of labor, Ohden was born alive. She was transferred to the NICU, thrived, and was eventually adopted; she had a perfectly normal childhood with none of the physical or mental disabilities usually associated with saline abortion victims born alive. Ohden writes of her emotional trauma when she discovered the circumstances of her birth, and of her sense of isolation as a feminist with a life story that the pro-choice feminists around her wanted to ignore and deny. She eventually went on to become a full-time speaker in the pro-life movement, where she works to this day.
Ohden’s memoir is the testimony of a woman struggling to come to terms with her identity in a world that has no place for her. She is a person who could pass for perfectly commonplace. Yet, her life began under horrendously abusive circumstances that most would rather not talk about. She spent over thirty years coping with the trauma of learning of those circumstances, trying to make contact with her birth family, and trying stop other children from being killed by the same means.
In its writing style, You Carried Me is not the most riveting of autobiographies. The events of Ohden’s life are related one after the other in a plodding, unelectrifying way. One gets the impression that she is making a special effort to present herself as relatable, as an ordinary person just like the reader except for the fact that she was aborted, and it’s understandable that she would do so. However, this effort backfires in places. More than once in the narrative, she simply comes off as boring.
Still, this is a story that ought to be read and contemplated by people on both sides of the abortion issue. We do need to face that some women do not choose abortion but are forced into it. We need to listen to people whose lives have been affected by abortion in ways that don’t fit our usual narratives.
You Carried Me is not the most brilliantly written memoir, but it is very relevant and worth the reader’s time.
(image via Pixabay)