In 2018 we are finally, loudly talking about miscarriage and fertility issues. Mothers and their partners are speaking out about the pain of pregnancy loss —telling friends, family and social media followers—and celebrities are opening up about using IVF and surrogacy to start their families. But 20 years ago these conversations were whispered, not hashtagged, and that's when former first lady Michelle Obama experienced this pain so many can relate to.
Good Morning America , recalling a pregnancy she lost before she got pregnant with daughters Sasha and Malia (now 17 and 20) through IVF. "We sit in our own pain, thinking that somehow we're broken," she explains. "That's one of the reasons why I think it's important to talk to young mothers about the fact that miscarriages happen."
the release of her upcoming memoir , and a prime-time special , Becoming Michelle: A First Lady's Journey with Robin Roberts , airing Sunday on ABC. In the interview, Obama explains that starting a family wasn't easy for her and that she sought help from reproductive medicine in her mid-30s. "The biological clock is real, because egg production is limited and I realized that as I was 34 and 35, we had to do IVF," she says in a sneak peek of the special. "I think it's the worst thing we do to each other as women, not share the truth about our bodies and how they work and how they don't work," Obama tells Robin Roberts. Twenty years ago, Obama may have felt alone starting a family at that age, but these days, more and more American mothers are becoming mothers in their thirties.
In recent years birth rates have declined among women under age 30 and gone up among women aged 30–44, the CDC notes. If, like Obama, you're having difficulty conceiving or have experienced a pregnancy loss, understand that you are absolutely not alone. There is no shame in experiencing a miscarriage. It happens in as many as 20% of known pregnancies. There is no shame in turning to IVF. According to a Pew Research Center analysis of National Center for Health Statistics data, 9% of women "nearing the end of their childbearing years" report they or their spouse has undergone a fertility treatment. The only shame around these issues is that we are only now starting to talk about it. Thank you, Michelle, for joining in this conversation.