Michelle Obama struggled to conceive after miscarriage

Saturday November 17 2018

Former US First Lady Michelle Obama

Former US First Lady Michelle Obama who has come out for the first time to reveal her pain after a miscarriage, and how she resorted to in-vitro fertilisation to conceive her two daughters, Malia and Sasha. PHOTO | JIM YOUNG | AFP 

AFP
By AFP
More by this Author
THE NEW YORK TIMES
By THE NEW YORK TIMES
More by this Author

Former US First Lady Michelle Obama has come out for the first time to reveal her pain after a miscarriage, and how she resorted to in-vitro fertilisation to conceive her two daughters, Malia and Sasha.

These are among the revelations that Mrs Obama, whose husband has Kenyan roots, makes in her new book, Becoming, which hit the bookstores on Tuesday.

She also reveals how she went for marriage counselling in what might come as a shocker for those who have always believed that the Obamas have had it all.

"I felt lost and alone, and I felt like I failed because I didn't know how common miscarriages were because we don't talk about them," Mrs Obama told ABC News in an interview.

"We sit in our own pain, thinking that somehow we're broken."

MISCARRIAGE

In the book, she says the miscarriage left her with a “pang of longing followed by a bruising wallop of inadequacy” whenever she saw women walking with their children in the street.

Mrs Obama was in her mid-30s when she began trying for children with her husband, then a state senator in Illinois.

She reveals that fertility treatments made it possible for her to conceive her daughters Malia, now 20, and Sasha, 17.

Many families, who have struggled with childlessness or delayed parenthood are likely to identify with Mrs Obama's story and her eventual triumph.

"It turns out that even two committed go-getters with a deep love and robust work ethic can't will themselves into being pregnant," she writes in the new book.

IVF

"We had to do IVF," she told ABC, in excerpts of an interview that will air in full tomorrow.

She revisits the thrill of her romance with Mr Barack Obama, the son of a Kenyan from Kogello.

Their relationship began when she was his adviser at a Chicago law firm. Mrs Obama described their romance as a "toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfilment, wonder".

But she also admits the couple on occasion turned to counselling, where they "learnt how to talk out" problems.

According to her, the counselling saved their marriage when she felt that his political career “would end up steam-rolling our every need.”

BLACK MAN

“What I learnt about myself is that my happiness is up to me, and I started working out more and asking for help, not just from [Mr Obama] but from other people.”

Evidently, their romance was not all rosy from the word go. When Michelle, then known as Ms Michelle Robinson, first heard her fellow lawyers swooning over a new summer associate named Barack Hussein Obama, she was dubious.

“In my experience, you put a suit on any half-intelligent black man and white people tended to go bonkers,” she writes in her memoir. Other than registering his “rich, even sexy baritone” on the phone, she was not all that impressed, especially when he showed up for his first day at work irritatingly late.

The “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfilment, wonder” would come later.

ADJUST

But she would always find it hard to adjust to his tardiness, his constant belief that things would simply work themselves out, and the way his ambitions often dictated the course of their lives.

The publishing of the book is likely to put the Obamas back squarely in the public eye.

Upon President Donald Trump's election, the Obamas faded from the spotlight for a time, retreating to their home in an upscale area of the US capital and refraining from overtly political statements.

COMEBACK

That silence has now passed, with the former president making a comeback by actively campaigning for Democratic candidates in the just-concluded midterm elections.

And now, Mrs Obama will have more opportunity to speak out during her book tour, which begins in her hometown Chicago before rolling on to New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Boston and other American cities.

What is more, her story of resilience and her courage in a world where women are measured by a higher standard, especially on their families, is likely to resonate with women everywhere, not just in Kenya, the land of her husband's ancestral roots. Besides family issues, Michelle has also talked about her role as US First Lady and why she won’t seek elective office.