Michelle Obama opens up about infertility

Former first lady Michelle Obama revealed personal details about her pregnancy and marriage in an interview with ABC's Robin Roberts.

Posted: Nov 11, 2018 10:01 AM
Updated: Nov 11, 2018 10:22 AM

Free from the constraints she might have felt while living in the White House, former first lady Michelle Obama is getting personal, opening herself up to the world in bold ways in her memoir, "Becoming," out Tuesday.

One piece of her journey that she delves into: the struggles she faced with infertility, a subject that so often remains in the shadows.

She shared details about how she had a miscarriage and relied on in vitro fertilization to conceive her two girls, according to the Washington Post, which received an advance copy of the book. She also revealed how she was left to give herself the necessary shots when her husband was off fulfilling his duties in the state Legislature.

"I felt lost and alone, and I felt like I failed," she told Robin Roberts in an interview that ran Friday on "Good Morning America." "I didn't know how common miscarriages were, because we don't talk about them. We sit in our own pain, thinking that somehow we're broken."

What Obama articulates is "so universal, not just throughout the US but around the world," says Dr. Zev Williams, director of the Columbia University Fertility Center. "There's a real sense of self-blame and guilt and a reluctance to discuss it with other people."

Williams co-authored a 2015 study looking into public perceptions of miscarriage. Even though he says miscarriage or pregnancy loss occurs in at least 20% of all pregnancies, 55% of those who responded to his survey thought miscarriage was rare, occurring in 5% or less of pregnancies, and some believed that they occur "in under 0.1% of pregnancies," he said.

Not only are miscarriages common, they are "in almost all cases" not the mother's fault, Williams added. The fact that this sort of information isn't widely known only makes matters worse.

"Of those who had a miscarriage, 37% felt they had a lost a child, 47% felt guilty, 41% reported feeling that they had done something wrong, 41% felt alone, and 28% felt ashamed," the study reported.

Obama has revealed that she's no different from other women who've suffered in silence. And the fact that she is speaking out today is significant, Williams said.

"This happened 20 years ago, and she's talking about it now, which really reflects the emotional impact it had on her, as it's had on many others," he said.

In sharing this part of herself, Obama told Roberts, she hopes to help change the conversation.

"The biological clock is real," Obama said. "I think it's the worst thing that we do to each other as women, not share the truth about our bodies and how they work and how they don't work."

Putting her high-profile name and face on this topic will serve to help not just those who've been there themselves but also those who could be more understanding and sensitive.

"For those who have gone through pregnancy loss, they will get a sense of comfort in seeing that they are not alone in the world" and a sense of hope in knowing that Obama was able to go on to have two children, Williams said.

And for those who've been spared this sort of struggle, he added, Obama's story can be "eye-opening and perhaps help people be a little more careful with their words."

Terre Haute
Overcast
48° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 45°
Robinson
Overcast
47° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 44°
Indianapolis
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 42°
Rockville
Overcast
41° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 41°
Casey
Overcast
44° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 40°
Brazil
Overcast
48° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 45°
Marshall
Overcast
48° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 45°
Cloudy night with scattered sprinkles
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Sunday Evening Forecast

Image

New named tropical storm

Image

Unreal Nightmare Escapes

Image

Church offers trunk-or-treat

Image

Jeep Junkies Trunk-or-Treat

Image

Riders compete at Griffin Bike Park

Image

College Goal Sunday

Image

Remembering Leeam Pritcher

Image

Bike competition this weekend

Image

Bikes for Tykes Assembly Day

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 374901

Reported Deaths: 9751
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook1738175409
DuPage22546607
Lake20485509
Will18179427
Kane16453347
Winnebago10052180
St. Clair7878218
Madison7084154
McHenry6225120
Champaign604829
Unassigned4787270
Peoria448570
McLean410334
Rock Island396090
Sangamon389663
Kankakee336680
Macon296951
Kendall263030
Tazewell259456
LaSalle237863
DeKalb231742
Coles189639
Williamson185759
Adams183819
Boone183025
Clinton173326
Vermilion169710
Jackson152426
Whiteside138725
Knox127216
Randolph124915
Ogle11857
Effingham11594
Marion99119
Grundy9607
Franklin9529
Stephenson9497
Monroe90329
Bureau89517
Jefferson89348
Morgan89024
Henry8427
Christian81129
Macoupin78410
Union78425
McDonough73920
Lee7051
Fayette67422
Douglas6559
Shelby65312
Crawford6446
Livingston62610
Montgomery60916
Woodford59614
Logan5894
Saline5559
Fulton4981
Warren4938
Iroquois48919
Bond4889
Jo Daviess4867
Wayne48112
Jersey47021
Cass46011
Perry43016
Moultrie4084
Carroll40111
Johnson3460
Richland33316
Lawrence3328
Pike3326
Hancock3094
Clark30717
Clay30713
Washington3012
Mason3001
Greene28715
Cumberland2816
White2644
Jasper26110
De Witt2556
Mercer2526
Piatt2440
Pulaski2351
Wabash2205
Ford19112
Menard1821
Massac1542
Edgar15310
Marshall1503
Henderson1280
Alexander1201
Hamilton1172
Brown1070
Edwards1070
Gallatin1062
Scott1020
Schuyler911
Putnam900
Stark853
Calhoun670
Hardin530
Pope421
Out of IL80

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 160454

Reported Deaths: 4118
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion25691791
Lake14023358
St. Joseph9399165
Elkhart9026137
Allen8424230
Hamilton6293114
Vanderburgh601161
Tippecanoe383615
Hendricks3337133
Porter332350
Monroe330338
Johnson3207129
Delaware303474
Clark300763
Vigo268740
Madison244996
LaPorte231760
Cass226922
Warrick199565
Kosciusko193727
Floyd183968
Howard167066
Bartholomew145358
Dubois142726
Marshall142726
Wayne135331
Grant129739
Henry129730
Boone126950
Hancock122344
Noble119135
Jackson116417
Dearborn100028
Morgan97440
Lawrence94037
Gibson91512
Daviess90234
Clinton88916
Shelby87231
LaGrange82115
Knox79510
Harrison78324
Putnam75616
Posey7556
DeKalb74511
Fayette73218
Jasper6435
Miami6425
Steuben6408
Montgomery60422
White59915
Greene55838
Scott53413
Decatur51739
Adams5107
Whitley4696
Ripley4668
Clay4567
Sullivan45214
Wells44211
Starke4328
Wabash4329
Huntington4215
Orange41725
Spencer4046
Washington3843
Franklin37925
Jennings37313
Randolph37210
Fulton3714
Jefferson3455
Pike34018
Perry33314
Carroll33213
Jay3256
Fountain3193
Tipton28023
Vermillion2601
Parke2464
Blackford2313
Newton23011
Rush2254
Owen2101
Martin2010
Crawford1601
Pulaski1602
Brown1463
Ohio1317
Union1120
Benton1090
Switzerland960
Warren891
Unassigned0236