What Michelle Obama’s Intimate Account of Fertility Treatment Means for Couples

The former First Lady details her struggles becoming pregnant in her new memoir, "Becoming."

Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama painted an intimate portrait of her fertility struggles in "Becoming." (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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Michelle Obama’s honest telling of her struggles becoming pregnant and subsequently undergoing in vitro fertilization challenges the “cultural stereotype” of what that woman looks like.

Much of the news circulating around previews of the former First Lady’s new memoir, Becoming, has been focused on her surprisingly intimate miscarriage reveal and years of IVF treatments that followed.

“I felt like I failed,” Obama told ABC’s Robin Roberts on a television special leading up to the book’s Nov. 13 launch. “Because I didn’t know how common miscarriages were. Because we don’t talk about them.”

She’s correct in one regard — infertility is not considered a PC conversation topic, even though at least 10% to 25% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, The Atlantic reported. But in the 40 years since the first baby conceived by IVF was born, more than eight million have followed.

Obama’s decision to shield her family from further scrutiny by keeping this information secret until now speaks to a larger issue with inherent American racism and fertility shaming, according to the magazine. And her revelation makes it OK for her fellow woman to endure, too.

“Imagine all the pressure of being in that position, as the first African American first lady,” professor Ronisha Browdy told The Atlantic. “Now she can tell her story independently of her husband and without the additional risk of her story affecting, or being affected by, his administration.”

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