Do you ever wonder what it feels like to not be able to have a child? We assume that this is a natural process of the womans body but many women find it difficult to conceive naturally every day. Some women have the ability to conceive but are unable to carry a baby to full term. Sadly, miscarriages are a very common occurrence. According to miscarriage statistics, sources vary but many estimate that approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage, and some estimates are as high as 1 in 3. When you think of what the role of a woman is you tend to correlate it with homemaker, mother, wife, caregiver and child bearer. Mind you these are all worthy titles to live up to but sometimes unattainable. In many cultures, if a woman cannot conceive she is looked down upon, shamed in her community and made to feel inferior, as if having a child is her only identity.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama was on 20/20 this week with host Robin Roberts discussing her new memoir "Becoming". In this televised interview Michelle revealed that she suffered a miscarriage 20 years ago and experienced difficulty conceiving. In her memoir "Becoming," Mrs. Obama writes "We were trying to get pregnant and it wasn't going well,". "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 alternative the Obamas chose was In vitro fertilization, According to Mayo Clinic, In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a complex series of procedures used to treat fertility or genetic problems and assist with the conception of a child. IVF was performed to conceive daughters Malia and Sasha Obama. She also mentioned that her biological clock was ticking “I felt like I failed,” “Because I didn’t know how common miscarriages were. Because we don’t talk about them.” I have to say when I watched the interview I was shocked because Michelle has had to act perfect being in the public eye. Whatever difficulties she had to endure it was not made known to the public, so, therefore, we saw her close to perfect. Michelle Obama conducted herself with class, dignity, and strength. Her newfound openness has resonated with many women by her revealing a more intimate side of herself.
Discussing your miscarriage or IVF struggles with anyone can be uncomfortable. It is not the kind of conversation you would like to strike up with your girlfriend or family members. You may be ashamed, embarrassed and don't want people in your business. In our world a woman's identity is tied to her being able to conceive and not being able to do that can make you feel less than or not good enough. Why are these topics so taboo? For example, my Mother never talked about sex, birth control or abortion. She would only reveal to me her deepest secrets when I began to tell her mine. My Aunt wouldn't even admit that she was struggling with fibroids and battling cancer, she would simply say "I am having lady problems". It is important that we talk about these issues so the next generation can be prepared and our daughters won't have to go through their pain and experiences alone.
No one knows what the face of infertility looks like and by her sharing her struggle and pain, it presents the opportunity for difficult conversations to be had among women around the world, not only because of who she is but the platform she provides. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Hopefully with more women coming forward with their stories we can all begin to heal.