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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soundoff (393 Responses)
  1. zan24

    Judge not, lest thee be judged! many negative people! Why not change all that negativity into positivity about EVERYTHING for everyone (yourselves included), to enjoy living in a happier world. It should be noted that "what you give out you receive".. and "what you think about you become" . Collective thoughts are very powerful, so they may as well be positive happy ones! Instead of "bagging" Oprah – why not try and emulate many of her attributes, including giving back to society, in proportion with your capabilities. :-0)

    January 18, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Margaret Cabral

    When I miscarryed in 1991, I was most unhappy about losing my baby. That was a very unhappy time for me
    and it still is.

    January 19, 2011 at 1:49 am | Report abuse |
  3. Barbara

    Second try: The coldness and nonchalance about stillborn baby at age 14, shown by Oprah who I hold in usual high esteem troubles me insofar as she regarded the baby's demise as her "Second Chance". What about the baby's rights and chances after the drink of detergent?

    January 19, 2011 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  4. outawork

    "when the baby died, I knew that it was my second chance" – Oprah is a sad sad person

    January 19, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kath

    She drank detergent.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. New New

    As someone who had a child at 14....I felt many of the same feelings that Oprah did. I understand that feeling of hopelessness, not being able to go to school with your peers, the shame of being a pregnant teen has devastating effects on a child, especially a child carrying a child. My son was born in 1986 and there was a still a stigma attached to teen pregnancy (as there should be). I went on to graduate from highschool and college. Currently working on a Master's Degree. I am happy to say that I too am a SURVIVOR,

    January 19, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Reuben

    It's all about me! Sad. She's almost as narcissistic as the other O from Chicago.

    January 19, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Meaghanek

    Man, do I hate Oprah–and what she did to Discovery Health!!

    January 20, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jane

    Yup. Motherhood sets us back.

    January 24, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  10. Sandra

    Let those without sin cast the first stone!

    January 24, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kim

    I cannot help but wonder how the baby died. Was he a preemie? She also never refers to him as "son". A little strange and heartbreaking.

    January 27, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. cindy

    My kids and grandkids are so special, a gift from God! I can't image anyone being glad she lost her baby. She does not know what she missed out on!!!

    January 28, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. annamarie

    What a disgusting person.

    March 4, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. why cant I get pregnant

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    April 8, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
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