Michelle Obama is the proud mom of two daughters. But her road to motherhood was a lot rockier than most people had previously realized. Now, the former First Lady is opening up about conceiving her girls through IVF – and the trauma she went through to get there.
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson was born in Chicago, Illinois, in January 1964. She excelled at school, graduating as the salutatorian after being on the honor roll for four years. Michelle then went to Princeton University, majoring in sociology and minoring in African-American studies.
The former First Lady went on to get a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School. After that, Michelle was offered a job as an associate at the law firm Sidley & Austin in Chicago. It was there that she met Barack Obama, who would soon become her husband.
Barack and Michelle went on their first date to see the 1989 movie Do The Right Thing by Spike Lee. The couple married in October 1992. They welcomed daughter Malia in 1998 and later daughter Natasha, who is known as Sasha, three years later.
Michelle later worked for the government before becoming the Associate Dean of Student Services at the University of Chicago. Then in 2002 she joined the University of Chicago Hospitals, where she served as the Vice President for Community and External Affairs. Michelle worked there during her husband’s presidential campaign, but eventually took a leave of absence.
Barack was elected President of the United States in 2008 and Michelle became his First Lady. During her time at the White House, Michelle actively supported working women and military families and raised awareness around poverty. She also started the Let’s Move! initiative to combat obesity in children, while her husband created a task force to make further progress on the national epidemic.
Since Barack’s presidency ended in 2016, Michelle has attended and spoken at several conferences. She also continues to support women’s rights, education for girls and providing nutritional school lunches for kids. The former First Lady also spent the time working on her memoir, Becoming. And the book contains some major revelations.
In her memoir, Michelle described the moment that she fell for the future President. “As soon as I allowed myself to feel anything for Barack, the feelings came rushing – a toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder,” she wrote. But she also opened up about their hardships.
Michelle confessed for the first time that she used IVF to conceive her daughters. Before turning to fertility treatments, she had struggled to have a baby naturally. And she revealed that 20 years ago, she suffered a miscarriage.
The former First Lady appeared on Good Morning America in November 2018 to promote her book. And she revealed to Robin Roberts that she felt “lost and alone” following the miscarriage. “I felt like I failed because I didn’t know how common miscarriages were because we don’t talk about them,” Michelle said. “We sit in our own pain, thinking that somehow we’re broken.”
And Michelle explained that she was sharing her own experiences in the hope that it would remind other women going through the same thing that they are not alone. “It’s important to talk to young mothers about the fact that miscarriages happen,” she shared. So when the First Lady was around 34 years old, she decided to try in-vitro fertilization.
“The biological clock is real because egg production is limited,” she said on Good Morning America. “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.” Thankfully, the IVF treatments eventually gave her Malia and Sasha, but they didn’t come without their difficulties.
Michelle recalled how the process took its toll on her marriage, especially as Barack became busy with his work at the state legislature. The former First Lady revealed that she had to dispense the necessary hormone injections herself. However, they overcame their problems with the help of couple’s counseling. “Marriage counseling for us was one of those ways where we learned how to talk out our differences,” she told the show.
Michelle added on Good Morning America, “I know too many young couples who struggle and think that somehow there’s something wrong with them. And I want them to know that Michelle and Barack Obama, who have a phenomenal marriage and who love each other, we work on our marriage. And we get help with our marriage when we need it.”
After Michelle’s interview was released, she was praised for her candor. Other women in particular thanked the former First Lady for raising awareness around miscarriages and fertility treatments. “Thank you for sharing your experience and the truth about the pain. Healing with one another,” one person tweeted.
Another agreed, “I love Michelle Obama for opening up and putting miscarriages in the news. As a momma of an angel, I feel the same way everyday. I’m glad she’s keeping all us moms feeling important.” And a third person commented, “Wow I salute you Michelle for being so open and honest. After going through this myself it’s heartwarming to hear. I think she’s amazing.”
Articles were also written discussing what Michelle’s admissions mean. Jean Hannah Edelstein, who conceived via IVF, described it as a “remarkable act of generosity” in an opinion piece for U.K. newspaper The Guardian. The writer pointed out that fertility treatments are still “often stigmatized” despite their widespread use.
“And for those of us who go through it, knowing that public figures aren’t ashamed to be among us can make a huge difference in terms of feeling able to get the support and space we need to persevere,” Jean wrote. Laura Beers agreed in an article for CNN that Michelle had done “a great service” for infertile couples by speaking out. “Her status as a role model for many women across the racial and social spectrum makes her ideally positioned to take the conversation further.”
It’s clear that fans of Michelle are hoping that her words will help to shine a light on IVF and reduce stigma surrounding miscarriages and infertility. However, Laura noted that due to its high cost in America, IVF is not affordable for everybody. The hope is that Michelle could help create a wider discussion around that issue.
Becoming was released in November 2018, and Michelle is currently on tour to promote the memoir. And while she has insisted that she has no plans to follow in Hillary Clinton’s footsteps and run for presidency in 2020, she is still making her voice heard when it comes to politics. In the book, the former First Lady slams Donald Trump for suggesting that her husband wasn’t born in the United States. She writes that “with his loud and reckless innuendos, [he] was putting my family’s safety at risk. And for this I’d never forgive him.”