For­mer first lady tells of mis­car­riage ‘lone­li­ness’

The Scotsman - - News Digest - By LAU­RIE KELL­MAN

Michelle Obama says she felt alone af­ter a mis­car­riage 20 years ago and she and Barack Obama un­der­went fer­til­ity treat­ments to con­ceive their two daugh­ters, ac­cord­ing to her up­com­ing mem­oir.

In some of her most ex­ten­sive pub­lic com­ments on her White House years, the for­mer first lady also lets her fury fly over Pres­i­dent Donald Trump’s “big­otry and xeno­pho­bia” – rhetoric, she wrote, that was “de­lib­er­ately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks”.

But it’s her deeply per­sonal ac­count of her mar­riage to the fu­ture pres­i­dent that shed new light on the Ivy Leaguee­d­u­cated cou­ple’s early strug­gle with is­sues of fam­ily, am­bi­tion and pub­lic life.

“We were try­ing to get preg­nant and it wasn’t go­ing well,” Mrs Obama, 54, writes in Be­com­ing, set for re­lease on Tues­day.

She said: “We had one preg­nancy test come back pos­i­tive, which caused us both to for­get every worry and swoon with joy, but a cou­ple of weeks later I had a mis­car­riage, which left me phys­i­cally un­com­fort­able and cratered any op­ti­mism we felt.”

The Oba­mas opted for IVF, one form of as­sisted re­pro­duc­tion that in­volves re­mov­ing eggs from a woman, fer­til­is­ing them with sperm in a lab, and im­plant­ing the re­sult­ing em­bryo. It costs thou­sands of dol­lars for every “cy­cle,” and many cou­ples re­quire more than one at­tempt. Mrs Obama writes of be­ing alone to ad­min­is­ter her­self in­jec­tions to help has­ten the process.

Her “sweet, at­ten­tive hus­band” was at the state leg­is­la­ture, “leav­ing me largely on my own to ma­nip­u­late my re­pro­duc­tive sys­tem into peak ef­fi­ciency”, she said.

Be­com­ing is one of the most an­tic­i­pated po­lit­i­cal books in mem­ory, rank­ing at the top of Ama­zon’s best-sell­ers yes­ter­day. That’s of­ten the case with the mem­oirs of for­mer first ladies, in­clud­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton and Laura Bush.

But Mrs Obama de­fied her ex­alted sta­tus in the an­nals of his­tory by cul­ti­vat­ing an im­age of a mod­ern woman with whom many Amer­i­cans would like to sip wine and chat.

But un­til now, she’s not ex­ten­sively shared so many de­tails. Some fam­ily strug­gles, such as los­ing a baby, are known by mil­lions of women.

“I felt like I failed be­cause I didn’t know how com­mon mis­car­riages were be­cause we don’t talk about them,” the for­mer first lady said in an in­ter­view broad­cast yes­ter­day on ABC’S Good Morn­ing Amer­ica. “We sit in our own pain, think­ing that some­how we’re bro­ken.”

Mrs Obama, said they un­der­went fer­til­i­sa­tion treat­ments to con­ceive daugh­ters Sasha and Malia, now 17 and 20. She also writes about fall­ing in love. The Oba­mas met at the Chicago law firm Si­d­ley Austin LLP, and Michelle was scep­ti­cal at first. But she was then impressed by his “rich, even sexy bari­tone” and by his “strange, stir­ring com­bi­na­tion” of seren­ity and power. Their first kiss set off a “top­pling blast of lust, grat­i­tude, ful­fill­ment, won­der”, she wrote. Con­fronting racism in pub­lic life – be­ing the first black first lady, wife of the na­tion’s first black pres­i­dent – has been a brac­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, in Mrs Obama’s telling.

news­deskts@scots­man.com

The Oba­mas at an Iowa rally dur­ing his first pres­i­den­tial cam­paign in 2008

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