Winfrey: Losing baby as a teen was 'my second chance'
January 17th, 2011
09:18 PM ET

Winfrey: Losing baby as a teen was 'my second chance'

In the inaugural interview on "Piers Morgan Tonight," talk show queen Oprah Winfrey recalled contemplating suicide at 14 because she was pregnant, and how she feels she was given a second chance when she lost the baby.

"I thought, 'Before the baby was born, I’m going to have to kill myself,' " she told Piers Morgan during the interview, which aired on CNN Monday night, citing the stigma of being an unwed mother at the time, and her father's view of unwed mothers.

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Her mother in Milwaukee sent her to live with her father in Nashville, and he didn't know she was pregnant.

"My father ... said to me as I'm standing in the kitchen listening to him, 'These are the rules of the house, you're going to obey the rules, you have a 10 o'clock curfew, and I would rather see a daughter of mine floating down the Cumberland River … than to bring shame on this family and the indecency of an illegitimate child.' "

She said she didn't come close to killing herself - "I did stupid things like drinking detergent and all that kind of crazy stuff that you do when you’re trying to get attention when you’re really just trying to cry for help," she said.

"But this is my 14-year-old self. I don't even know what I thought the plan was going to be. ... You're having a baby out of wedlock, your life is over. So when the baby died – the baby was never brought home from the hospital – when the baby died, I knew that it was my second chance.

"So I went back to school, and nobody knew. Because had anybody known at that time, I wouldn’t have been able to be head of student council. I wouldn’t have been able to be speaking champion in forensics. … I wouldn’t have been chosen as one of the two teenagers in the state of Tennessee to go to the White House conference on youth. None of those things would have happened, and the entire trajectory of my life would have been different."

She discussed the baby and the suicidal thoughts after being asked whether any part of her wondered what would have happened if the child had lived.

Winfrey also discussed how her heart was broken twice, why she is not one for marriage, what she intends for her fortune when she's gone, and how she wishes everyone would have a Gayle King in their life.

Morgan's show takes over CNN's 9 p.m. ET time slot from longtime CNN host Larry King. The show's first week continues with Howard Stern on Tuesday and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday.

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  1. Quezz

    There is something very, very cold about how Oprah recalls that experience. It gives me the appropriate shivers. Sometimes, certain events that are "second chances" on one level are soul-stealers on another, and that is what I heard.

    Scary stuff.

    January 17, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. snookieeeee

    I respected her before this, why does she feel as if "the baby" dying was a second chance for her? adoption!! she's a disgrace and I'm sure other people have lost respect to her as I have. kind of ironic she does this on the day where everyone has to bow down and kiss african american's butts. my best friend is black and she is feeling the same way about oprah right now!

    January 17, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mikey B

      Way to slip the racist part in there. Stay classy, snookieeeee.

      January 18, 2011 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
    • b cool

      Bow down, Snooki!

      January 18, 2011 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
    • brent

      EVERY racist has a 'black friend' !*

      *Thanks for playing!

      January 18, 2011 at 1:23 am | Report abuse |
  3. tankrothchild

    Oprah suicidal thoughts? BHAAHAHAHAAHA. You elitist pompous stupid B. What do you have to feel bad about, man up.

    January 18, 2011 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
  4. Sarah

    I'm 15 & I just lost my baby! He was born at 36 weeks & 5 days old with his internal organs on the outside of his body(it can happen 1 in 35,000) & I did EVERYTHING right during my pregnancy! People say I'm too young to understand the loss of my child but I'm a mother whether I'm 15 or 50 yrs old & I'll grieve forever! HOWEVER, I do NOT think of my loss as a 2nd chance! That's SICK! If I wanted a 2nd chance I'd of chosen adoption! I want my baby back! Opera is sick in her mind to admitt that! I liked opera untill this moment! "Craig" you are an idiot!

    January 18, 2011 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Anne

      I'm really sorry you lost your baby. You are young to be a mother, but it's obvious that you've got strong maternal instincts and love your baby intensely; age doesn't matter with that. I'm sorry your baby wasn't healthy enough to survive. The people talking with you are probably not sure of what to say, and they're grieving for your baby, too, and also for what you're experiencing, but it's ridiculous to think that your age affects your ability to grieve. I'm sure that they wouldn't say a 10-year old child whose brother dies is too young to grieve. I hope they become more respectful of your feelings. Adolescence is hard and emotions are even more of a rollercoaster after childbirth. Hang in there and please know that it will get easier. You'll still love your baby as much as ever, and you'll remember him forever, but his loss will become easier to deal with. It might help to choose something that makes you feel close to him. Some ideas are to write a poem or song about how much you love him, plant a tree near your home that you can sit by when you want to be alone, or donate a stuffed animal to an abused child as a way to know he brought love to a child who didn't have any. I'll keep you and your baby in my prayers.

      January 18, 2011 at 2:15 am | Report abuse |
  5. Beautiful Vixen

    @ytrewq..lmao at your comment "I'm tossing stones, bang, right off the head. Too funny! Anyway I never watched her shows and whatever else she has out there so it would be unfair for me to say anything bad about her. Hear lately though regarding her interview about her bff and now this, she seems to be hurting or something. It must be hard always having to live up to being perfect or whatever it is that people expect from her. Also I'm sure with all her money it must be hard not knowing who like you for you or just liking you for your money. She would make a good cult leader though with so many people following her. I bet if she told people to bow and kiss her a** for $100 they would do

    January 18, 2011 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
  6. libby78

    It was a boy that lived for two weeks, maybe in the hospital. He had a name, he was a person. I lost any respect I had for her when she first talked about this years ago. Sure, it's a second chance and she's better off. But if she'd given it up for adoption she'd still be in the same place. Somewhere that little soul knows it's mother never wanted, and still had no regard for him at all. If there is a heaven I hope he is there.

    January 18, 2011 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
  7. Momma

    For those who might be too young to remember, Oprah is speaking the truth, If she had given birth during the 1960's as a 14 year old southern black girl, she would have easily been beaten ,cast out of her home and community. the odds of her ever graduating High School, having a roof over her head or a community of any kind would be impossible. Young white middle class Girls would be sent out of state to a unwed Mother's home. Their babies would be placed for adoption. The chances of a young black Girl having even that chance were slim none. Chances were just not that good. Birth Control? Remember, Birth Control hadn't been invented for very long at this time. Not only that, but how many 14 year olds do you know who get birth control in advance in 2011? go back to out of her mind. More power to her, She is a survivor.

    January 18, 2011 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Billy Cosby

      14 year old girls shouldn't be doing the nasty.

      January 18, 2011 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Finally, a voice of informed reason- well said Momma! I can't believe the vitriolic, discourse to this article. I am not a huge Oprah fan by any means, but the report I have read suggests a remarkably enlightened woman who, with hindsight, saw that at the age of 14 there was only one positive to come out of the tragic loss of her child. Yes she may have made well even if her child had lived, but as previously described, and from my limited knowledge of African American lives at the time, I friggin doubt it! Brave words and insight from a woman who must have suffered and prevailed.

      January 18, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. commoncents

    awww! we were so close to not having to hear her garbage!

    January 18, 2011 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
  9. anon

    agree with snookie to some degree. although, i think this was an even more of publicity stunt

    January 18, 2011 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
  10. Sydney Australia

    Makes one wonder how she 'lost' that baby. It's not like she put it down and drove off. You know, after trying to kill the poor thing (male or female) she conveniently goes to the hospital, has a dead baby and goes back to school. Sounds like to me she did manage to murder her kid. And that is what it is murder. She took a life and now she is bragging about how much better her life is.

    January 18, 2011 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
  11. Fortunate

    First I can relate somewhat having a child myself at 14 It was hard but I am grateful for having a strong Mother who taught me to be accountable for my actions.I am disappointed in Oprah and I also feel sorry for her because all the money she has can't surpass the joy of having your child in your arms for the first time and sadly I feel that's what she needs there are regrets there if you listen close enough.

    January 18, 2011 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
  12. Hema

    Well I thought Oprah was different, and she is is some ways, but she is such a typical black woman! Getting pregnant out of wedlock. Anyways, good for her that she is there to set an example for other black women, that no matter what they did or have done in their past, they too can be successful with hard work, and not being lazy. That is something Oprah needs to teach every black person! Laziness leads to jealousy, which leads to violence. Oprah please teach blacks, including Africans, the meaning of hard work, and stop blaming other cultures for taking their jobs, which they don't deserve, but are only given to them b/c of affirmative action!

    January 18, 2011 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
    • b cool

      Please do not use this blog for your non-sensical issues.

      January 18, 2011 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
  13. Oprah is such a fraud

    "I did stupid things like drinking detergent and all that kind of crazy stuff that you do when you’re trying to get attention when you’re really just trying to cry for help," she said.
    I wonder if she killed her baby. After all she didn't want to be known to have an illegitimate child.

    January 18, 2011 at 12:13 am | Report abuse |
  14. Cheers to that comment

    Well said, Orcas should remain in the sea

    January 18, 2011 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
  15. KMR

    I bet most of you are in church every Sunday sitting on the first row. God bless you.

    January 18, 2011 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
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