Michelle Obama opens up about miscarriage and Donald Trump in new memoir Becoming
Michelle Obama felt alone after a miscarriage 20 years ago, and she and Barack Obama underwent fertility treatment to conceive their two daughters, according to her upcoming memoir Becoming.
In some of her most extensive public comments on her White House years, the former first lady also lets her fury fly over US President Donald Trump’s “bigotry and xenophobia” — dangerous, deliberate rhetoric, she writes, that risked her family’s safety.
“For this,” she writes, “I’d never forgive him.”
But it’s her deeply personal account of her marriage to Mr Obama that sheds new light on the Ivy League-educated 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 her memoir Becoming.
“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 typically 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.
Malia (left) and Sasha Obama (second left) were both conceived through IVF. (Reuters: Larry Downing)
Mrs Obama writes of being alone to give 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.
Memoir lets loose at Trump
Confronting racism in public life — being the first black first lady, wife of the nation’s first black president — was a bracing experience, in Mrs Obama’s telling. She agonised over what she feared was a cartoonish, racist image. She remembered being labelled “angry” and, by the Fox network, “Obama’s Baby Mama”.
In the White House, she knew she would be labelled “other” and would have to earn the aura of “grace” given freely to her white predecessors. She found confidence in repeating to herself a favourite chant: “Am I good enough? Yes I am.”
Michelle Obama says Donald Trump’s rhetoric put her family’s safety at risk. (Reuters: Carlos Barria)
In the memoir, Mrs Obama lets loose a blast of anger at Mr Trump.
She writes that Mr Trump’s questioning of whether her husband was an American citizen was “crazy and mean-spirited” — and “dangerous”. Mr Trump suggested Mr Obama was not born in the US but on foreign soil — his father was Kenyan. The former president was born in Hawaii.
“What if someone with an unstable mind loaded a gun and drove to Washington? What if that person went looking for our girls?” she writes in the memoir.
“Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family’s safety at risk. And for this, I’d never forgive him.”
As he left for Paris on Friday, Mr Trump chose not to respond to the former first lady, telling reporters, “Oh, I guess she wrote a book. She got paid a lot of money to write a book and they always insisted you come up with [controversy].”
Mr Trump instead changed the subject to his predecessor Mr Obama, saying “I’ll give you a little controversy back. I’ll never forgive [Mr Obama] for what he did to our US military. It was depleted and I had to fix it”.
“What he did to our military made this country very unsafe for you and you and you,” Mr Trump said.
Michelle Obama hits out at Mr Trump’s treatment of Hillary Clinton in her book. (Reuters: Carlos Barria)
Mrs Obama also expresses disbelief over how so many women would choose a “misogynist” over Hillary Clinton in 2016. She remembers how her body “buzzed with fury” after seeing the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape, in which Mr Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women.
She also accuses Mr Trump of using body language to “stalk” Ms Clinton during an election debate. She writes of Mr Trump following Ms Clinton around the stage, standing nearby and “trying to diminish her presence”.
Pain of miscarriage and falling in love
Becoming is one of the most anticipated political books in memory, ranking at the top of Amazon’s best-sellers on Friday.
Until now Mrs Obama has not extensively shared details of her personal life, such as losing a baby.
“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 on US network ABC’s Good Morning America.
”We sit in our own pain, thinking that somehow we’re broken.”
Mrs Obama 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.
Mrs Obama will launch her promotional tour for the book at in front of tens of thousands of people at Chicago’s United Centre — the home arena of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls — next week at an event moderated by Oprah Winfrey.
SANDS 24-hour support line for miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn deaths can be contacted by calling 1300 072 637 or www.sands.org.au