Even if you didn’t read Becoming, you probably already heard that Michelle Obama had a miscarriage and eventually sought fertility treatments. She described how she felt following her miscarriage as “lonely, painful, and demoralizing,” and added that sharing this struggle with a couple of her friends brought her to a steady place. I think we all knew this part of her book like the very same day it launched for two reasons:
- Gist spreads. Why else didn’t the media focus on the heavier topics like conflict in relationships – Michelle and Barack having such different views on marriage; or grief – Michelle losing her friend, Suzanne, to cancer at age 26, and her dad suffering multiple sclerosis for such a long time until he died?
- There is power in sharing our struggles. Did you notice how many women around the world could relate with Michelle on her miscarriage?
I’d like to hone in on the second reason – the power in sharing our struggles. How often do we hang our heads down and say things like “it’s been a difficult past three months, you wouldn’t understand what I’ve been going through.” Well maybe I just might if you opened up about it.
Let me tell you a story. My daughter was conceived through IVF to prevent sickle cell disease. Part of the IVF process requires daily bloodwork and ultrasound monitoring. Here goes –
6:45am: Arrived early for the first time in my rushing-to-the-clinic history. I’m usually there by 7:02am for my 7:00am appointments.
6:47am: Car is parked and I’m standing in front of the building, trying to pull the door open. The door refuses to open. I proceed to pull with both arms as it must be because I skipped breakfast this morning.
6:48am: Door still refuses to open. “Ah d’uh, I’m probably too early today,” I thought to myself. So I resolve to waiting.
6:54am: Now there are six of us waiting. Each person decides it’s a good idea to call the “office” within the building we are going to.
6.55am: “Na wa o, they’re not picking up my call,” I said. “Yea, same here,” said another, and then another…
7:01am: I proceed to pull the door with all confidence. Still locked. Now we realize there’s a problem. Three more people join in the wait.
7:04am: Someone comes to manually unlock the doors and let us in. We all march to the elevator, and I, being the group captain, proceed to press the number 3 button. “What floor do you need?” I asked the others. “Press 3, please,” said someone at the back. “Done. Any others?” I called. There was silence. We’re all going to the third floor.
7:05am: Ding-dong. The elevator arrives. Everyone exits and makes a right. There’s only one office to the right – my clinic. “Wait, we’re all going to the same clinic?!” it dawned on me. I’m certain we all came to this realization at the same time. It was the awkwardest 20 second walk.
7:05am: We arrive in front of the clinic door and one woman breaks the silence. “Isn’t it funny how we all think “it’s just me,” but then there are all these other women in the same boat as you,” she said. We all laughed because there was so much strength in that moment. Then we proceeded to wish each other well with our fertility treatments, as we fought the silent battle of who-will-fill-out-the-sign-in-sheet-first-so-they-get-called-to-the-back-room-first.
The Nigerian culture teaches us not to air our dirty laundry outside, and so many of us suffer alone. I don’t mean for you to stand on a pedestal and yell into a microphone (AKA post all over social media) that you are struggling with your finances, or that your marriage is falling apart. But do your friends in your inner circle know? Or is there at least one other person you talk to on the days when you are not so strong or the days when the doctor calls to tell you they have to stop your IVF treatments because your body is not responding as expected? Do you realize how many women have heard that over and over again? Or how many people have walked in whatever shoes in which you struggle?
My urge is simple; we are created for one another, so just as we share our happy moments let’s also share our struggles with people we trust. Thank you, Michelle Obama, for bringing this to light in your book.
P.S. Seyi, my dear reviewer, said I should write a story that my male readers can better relate with. Sorry ehn, come back for part 2 of 2 for that one.
Have you read Becoming? What are your thoughts on this topic?