Michelle Obama’s memoir titled Becoming Michelle Obama is currently the most trending book in the publishing industry. This not only because she is former First Lady of the United States of America who has her first publication out but rather how her heartfelt revelations in the book have made people see her in the most vulnerable and intimate of ways.
One aspect that has caught everyone’s attention causing trending conversation is how the former First Lady opens up about her personal struggles with parenthood having suffered two miscarriages and conceiving her two daughters - Sasha and Malia Obama through in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
Normal and relatable
For a moment she becomes so normal and relatable. The tough, smart, strong, classy and eloquent Michelle Obama is peeled away to reveal a simple wife and mother who like any other women in society was enduring battles that only she could understand.
A passage in the book reads, “If I were to start a file on things nobody tells you about until you’re right in the thick of them, it is miscarriages.
A miscarriage is lonely, painful, and demoralising almost on a cellular level,” she writes. “When you have one, you will likely mistake it for a personal failure, which it is not.
Or a tragedy, which, regardless of how utterly devastating it feels in the moment, it also is not.
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What nobody tells you is that miscarriage happens all the time, to more women than you’d ever guess, given the relative silence around it.”
In an exclusive interview with Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts, Michelle candidly sheds light on how the ordeal made her feel lonely and insecure considering the fact that her biological clock was ticking being 34.
“I felt lost and alone, I felt like I failed because I did not know how common miscarriages were because we do not talk about them, we choose to sit in our own pain and feel broken.
The biological clock is real and egg production is limited, something I realised at age 34; we had to do IVF. I think that as women the worst thing that we do to each other is that we do not share the truth about our bodies, how they work or do not work,’’ she said.
Bringing it back home, issues of miscarriages and IVF are still viewed through the eyes of cultural taboos, our society views matters in relation to reproduction and sexual health with secrecy and conservative mind-sets.
This is a shared opinion that Josephine Mongare, FIDA Kenya Chair has as she says as a country we have not set up stable legal frameworks in matters concerning IVF laws as she recalls that a few years ago the government had set up a taskforce to look into fertility matters in the health system but it never took off.
“Seeking IVF treatment should be seen as a normal medical procedure as most developed countries cover it in the medical insurance plan for up to three trials, our cultural perspective has hindered us from embracing new technologies and even discussing sensitive matters like miscarriages because we are of the opinion that sex and sexual related activities should be held in secrecy,’’ she said.
She adds that IVF treatment should be included in insurance covers and that the focus should be geared to making it affordable for couples seeking to undergo the process.
“People should have kids how they want to but through an enabling environment. The subjects of miscarriages and IVF are nothing new to this world but are reaching us now because for the longest time we have approached the discussions with a closed mind,” she added. As a progressive measure, the FIDA Kenya chair says that our education should be the starting point.
“We should introduce more courses on IVF matters like embryology to majority of our universities so that we may have adequate knowledge on it and be able to give treatment to people that need it instead of them going abroad to seek these services which are quite costly,” said Mong’are.
Back in the day, she said women would even marry other women for the sole purpose of child bearing.
“Women were marrying other women not because they were lesbian but they would have them give birth for them because the childbirth process is complex and some were not able to give birth as expected,’’ said Mong’are.
For her the childbirth process should not be left to women alone especially when going through sensitive experiences like miscarriages and IVF. She urges that we stop viewing child-bearing through the eyes of a taboo.