Getting pregnant is a journey. For some, that journey can be very difficult and feel very lonely. This is especially true for a woman who wants to become a mother and she can experience feelings of guilt and inadequacy. However, a lot of people have trouble getting pregnant. In fact, 1 in 6 couples have difficulty face infertility issues. There are many reasons why couples have trouble conceiving and many turn to IVF (or in vitro fertilization) to get pregnant. IVF is the process in which doctors extract an egg from the mother and then fertilize the egg with sperm from the father. After an egg is successfully fertilized it is then put back in the mother’s uterus where it has the chance of implanting becoming a viable pregnancy.
IVF is the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology or ART. Almost 2% of all babies born in the U.S. were conceived with ART. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the demand for these treatments and the use of these advanced technologies has grown exponentially over the years, but the expense of the treatments is a barrier for many. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine estimates the cost of a single cycle of IVF treatment comes with a $12,400 price tag. Most people will have to pay for it out of pocket because treatments are generally not covered by insurance. The stigma and stress around IVF and other fertility treatments can discourage many prospective parents. Thankfully, celebrities have been sharing their stories with IVF and their struggles getting pregnant. They offer hope and solidarity to many people who want to conceive. It may not seem like much, but a celebrity endorsement of treatment can radically impact how a couple moves forward. Unless you yourself are trying to get pregnant, you may not know that there are lots of famous people who have come forward with their stories about IVF and pregnancy. Here are 20 celebrities who have opened up about IVF and fertility to help spread the word and humanize an often alienating experience.
Comedian Amy Schumer has documented her pregnancy and, later, struggles with IVF on her Instagram. After giving birth to her son, Gene, Schumer immediately started IVF treatment so that she could get pregnant and create a brother or sister for her son. She said:
“I’m a week into IVF and feeling really run down and emotional. If anyone went through it and if you have any advice or wouldn’t mind sharing your experience with me please do. My number is in my bio. We are freezing my eggs and figuring out what to do to give Gene a sibling.”
Journalist and TV personality Maria Menounos has been very open about her struggle to conceive. She spent nearly a year trying to get pregnant with IVF treatments. In the end, it was not successful for her.
Menounos posted a picture of herself in a bathing suit on Instagram and captioned the post, “After months and months of IVF treatments and not feeling myself… I am happy to be able to post this picture & say I feel like me again.”
Actor and writer Emma Thompson has a daughter, Gaia, with her husband, actor Greg Wise. In an interview, Thompson explained that she had a lengthy, unsuccessful and difficult round with in-vitro fertilization, that left her with feelings of failure and guilt.
She said after finishing IVF, “We tried to have another child, it didn’t work, and I went into a deep clinical depression. It’s only now that I no longer count other people’s children or judge myself harshly for not providing my daughter with a sibling.”
“I think that we have a very one-size-fits-all approach to getting pregnant,” Hathaway said. “And you get pregnant and for the majority of cases, this is a really happy time. But a lot of people who are trying to get pregnant — that’s not really the story,” she continued. “Or that’s one part of the story. And the steps that lead up to that part of the story are really painful and very isolating and full of self-doubt. And I went through that.”
Friends star Courteney Cox opened up about her difficulty conceiving with her then-husband, David Arquette. She explained, “I could get pregnant, but not maintain the pregnancies.”
Cox had several miscarriages and it made filming the TV show difficult, “I remember one time I just had a miscarriage, and Rachel [Jennifer Aniston’s character] was giving birth.… Oh my God, it was terrible having to be funny.”
Actor Angela Bassett, and husband, Courtney B. Vance spent seven years trying to conceive before turning from fertility treatments to a surrogate. The couple sat down with Oprah and detailed the experience.
She told Oprah how difficult the process had been, “I was devastated when it didn’t happen [again and again]. I had to remain hopeful and resilient and, ‘Okay, let’s do it again.’”
Eventually, the couple did have twins, Bronwyn Golden and Slater Josiah. She and her husband were present for the births, “Just standing there together, holding each other with the realization that this is the moment that we’ve been working toward, praying for…It’s a dream come true.”
Actor Kater Walsh wanted kids, but unfortunately, she went through early menopause. She spoke to Maria Menounos about finding out about the diagnosis and the realization that she wouldn’t be able to give birth:
“I don’t have children. I’m not going to have kids. I went through early menopause.… My older sister called and was like, ‘By the way, you should go and get yourself checked because I’m going through menopause early. And I’m like, ‘You’re just scaring me.’ And then, yeah, sure enough, I went and they were like, ‘You have one egg.’ It was bleak.”
Reality TV star and mogul Kim Kardashian has been very candid about her difficult pregnancies and even chose to have her fourth child via surrogate. Before choosing surrogacy, Kardashian opened up about how difficult her second pregnancy was, she said:
“There are definitely times when I walked out [of the doctor’s office] hysterically crying. And other times when I was like, ‘Okay, everything’s looking good, it’s going to be this month!’ The waiting and waiting has been a roller coaster.”
TV personality Giuliana Rancic went through three cycles of IVF treatment before she was diagnosed with cancer. Because of the diagnosis, Rancic was unable to carry her embryos and turned to a gestational surrogate to carry her son. In a 2012 interview with CNN, Rancic talked about the difficult IVF treatments:
“My first IVF I did get pregnant — that was the miscarriage. But the second one, I did not get pregnant, and that was the biggest kick in the stomach, because I just could not believe you go through so much to get those eggs and put them in, and when the doctor calls you, to hear, ‘Oh, sorry, it didn’t work.’ That was the most shocking. I would go, ‘I’m a good person, and I could give someone the greatest life of all, but yet I can’t get pregnant.'”
Social media queen Chrissy Teigen and her husband, John Legend, welcomed their daughter in April 2016, but before Luna was born, the couple struggled with infertility and had to use IVF to get pregnant.
Before giving birth to Luna, Teigen posted a photo to Instagram with the caption, “As many of you know, we’ve been trying to have a baby for a while now,” she said. “It hasn’t been easy, but we kept trying because we can’t wait to bring our first child into the world and grow our family. We’re so excited that it’s finally happening.”
Superstar Mariah Carey had a miscarriage while trying to conceive with her husband at the time, Nick Cannon. Before giving birth to her twins, Barbara Walters asked Carey if she had turned to fertility treatments.
Carey confirmed, “The main thing I did that was tough was to go on progesterone, like, every month… and then when I was pregnant, I had to stay with the progesterone for 10 weeks. It minimizes the chance of miscarriage by 50 percent.”
Carey is now a proud mother to twins Moroccan and Monroe.
Actor and TV personality Gabrielle Union is a happy mom to her baby girl, Kaavia. But she had a difficult time conceiving and finally giving birth including the discovery that she had endometriosis. In an interview with Redbook before she got pregnant, Union said that she was having trouble conceiving:
“So far, it has not happened for us. There’s a certain amount of shame that is placed on women who have perhaps chosen a career over starting a family younger. The penance for being a career woman is barrenness. You feel like you’re wearing a scarlet letter.”
Model and reality TV host Tyra Banks tried to get pregnant for years and spoke out about how much harder that is after you turn 40-years-old. Banks told People “When I turned 40, the one thing I was not happy about is that I did not have kids.”
She explained that she’d undergone countless treatments and described her experience, “I’ve had some not-happy moments with that, very traumatic moments. It’s difficult as you get older. It’s not something that can just happen.”
Banks now has a son with her partner, Erik Asla. Her bundle of joy is named, York Banks.
Sarah Jessica Parker
Actor Sarah Jessica Parker and husband Matthew Broderick had their first child in 2002. However, when the couple was ready to have more, the opted for a surrogate. After her twins’ birth in 2009, SJP told Vogue:
“Meeting your children rather than giving birth to them, it’s as if, um, it’s — suspended animation. The gestational experience is gone. It’s as if everything else disappears for a moment, and the world goes silent and — I can’t explain it except to say that nothing else existed.”
Parker’s twin girls are named Tabitha Hodge and Marion Loretta.
Actor Jaime King welcomed her first child, James Knight, in 2017. Shortly after giving birth, she posted a photo to her Instagram with a lengthy caption detailing her difficulties getting to that point:
“This is the truth about conceiving my son and struggles after 8 yrs of pain and undiagnosed PCOS & Endometriosis. 9 doctors until Dr. Randy Harris diagnosed me & saved my life from a severe ectopic, 5 miscarriages, 5 rounds of IVF, 26 IUI’s, most with no outcome, 4 1/2 years of trying to conceive, 26 hours of brutal labor, early delivery b/c of sudden preeclampsia…”
She was later asked by People about the post and responded, “I was hiding what I was going through for so long, and I hear about so many women going through what I went through. If I’m open about it, hopefully, it won’t be so taboo to talk about it.”
Supermodel and actor Brooke Shields started IVF when she was 36-years-old. She continued the treatment for years without any results until finally, in 2003, she gave birth to her first child. In her memoir, Down Came the Rain Shields describes her difficulties with fertility:
“The whole process was quite an ordeal, and we became slaves to the time of day and to little vials of liquid. We’d find ourselves out at dinner with friends, and then we’d have to sneak off to a coatroom, where we’d huddle over syringes and a travel-size cooler filled with small bottles of drugs.”
Legendary actor Nicole Kidman has two adopted children with ex-husband Tom Cruise and two children with current husband Keith Urban. Her first child with Urban involved a surrogate. She gave birth to their second child. She described her pregnancy difficulties to Australia’s Who magazine in 2008:
“I had tried and failed and failed and failed. Not to be too detailed, but I’ve had an ectopic pregnancy, miscarriages and I’ve had fertility treatments. I’ve done all the stuff you can possibly do to try and get pregnant. Every woman who has been through all those ups and downs knows the depression that comes with it. So the way it just happened with Sunday [Kidman’s daughter] was like, ‘What?’ The percentages were so low. It is the miracle in my life.”
Actor and director Elizabeth Banks has two sons, and both were born using a surrogate. She had difficulty conceiving and later with IVF treatment because the embryos would not implant in her uterus. In an interview with Women’s Health, Banks explained that talking to other mothers about surrogacy helped her more than anything.
“It helped that other moms had said that once they had their babies, they forgot they were ever pregnant. So once my focus became the baby and not the pregnancy, it was a very easy decision.”
Writer and actor of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame Nia Vardalos tried to get pregnant and struggled with IVF treatments for nine years before she had kids. The actor had 13 failed IVF treatments and many miscarriages before she decided to adopt.
“It was a sad process for me to become a mom, and a long process,” Vardalos said to People. “I felt so embarrassed that I couldn’t have a biological child.”
Now, Vardalos is a huge advocate for adoption and wrote about her experience in her 2013 memoir, Instant Mom.
Singer Celine Dion had an extremely difficult time with all three of her pregnancies. The fertility treatment included over seven cycles of IVF. After giving birth to her first child at the age of 33, she found it even harder when she decided she wanted another at the age of 42.
Eventually, Dion became pregnant with triplets, but she lost one. She gave birth to twins in 2010. Years after, she described the ordeal to the Daily Mail and how it was not only difficult for her but also her son:
“‘I needed to protect myself a little by thinking that I already had one child. I couldn’t make all my life, my spirituality, my strength, my happiness, dependent on the next pregnancy. I would say to René-Charles [Dion’s son], ‘I hope you are going to have a brother or sister,’ and each time when it didn’t work I’d tell him, ‘It didn’t work, we’ll try again.’”
There are so many people, celebrities included, with stories about how they’ve struggled with fertility and growing their families. We are happy to see so many come forward with their difficult histories with conceiving. These celebrities give a face to what feels like, a lonely process. By speaking out, they are also helping to remove the stigma that so many feel when they’re having difficulties with pregnancy. It’s easy to blame yourself when you’re unable to have a child, but it’s not your fault. These 20 celebrities have been incredibly brave in sharing what they’ve gone through with IVF and other fertility struggles.
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