Kristen Wiig, Gabrielle Union & More Celebrities Who've Opened Up About Their Emotional IVF Journeys
Whether they're sharing advice or heartbreak, these stars are hoping to help women feel less alone by speaking out about their experiences with in vitro fertilization (IVF)
The Wonder Woman 1984 star opened up in the September issue of InStyle about her difficult journey to parenthood with fiancé Avi Rothman, with whom she welcomed twins via surrogate earlier this year.
"We've been together for about five years, and three of them were spent in an [in vitro fertilization] haze," said Wiig, 46. "Emotionally, spiritually and medically, it was probably the most difficult time in my life. I wasn't myself."
"It was a long f---ing time," she told the outlet. "It got to the point where I just kind of stopped talking about it entirely, because I would get sad whenever someone asked. It was just part of my life. I gave myself [hormone] shots in airplane bathrooms and at restaurants — and those shots are no joke."
"As private as I am and as sacred as this all is, what helped me was reading about other women who went through it and talking to those who have gone through IVF and fertility stuff," the Bridesmaids actress added. "It can be the most isolating experience. But I'm trying to find that space where I can keep my privacy and also be there for someone else who may be going through it."
"Now that I'm on the other side, I wouldn't have had it any other way," Wiig continued. "I've always believed that things happen the way they're supposed to happen, and this is how [our babies] were supposed to get here. I became really close with our surrogate, and it was her first time doing it so we kind of went through everything together. ... I'm grateful. I'm a different person now."
Less than one year after welcoming son Gene Attell in May 2019 with husband Chris Fischer, the actress and comedian revealed on Jan. 9 that she is undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) in hopes of giving baby Gene a sibling. Alongside a photo of her stomach bruised from hormone injections, she shared that she was feeling “really run down and emotional” one week into treatment, and asked fans to share any advice or experience with the process that they may have.
Overwhelmed by the positive feedback, Schumer shared some of the tips she received on Instagram: “Eat salty food after and drink Gatorade. Ice the area. Take arnica and put arnica on the bruises,” she wrote. The most important thing she learned is “to be patient and kind to myself and that there are sooooo many of us willing to be there for each other.”
“Your stories helped me more than you can imagine,” she wrote, adding that she is “really hoping this works and staying positive.”
The Cravings author and husband John Legend tried for years to get pregnant before turning to IVF. They eventually welcomed daughter Luna in 2016, followed by son Miles in 2018 — but the process was challenging, and Teigen has long been outspoken about her experience in hopes of normalizing the conversation for other women struggling with infertility.
“There are so many different factors that go into being able to conceive a baby. The [IVF] process really makes you appreciate that,” she said in a 2018 interview with The Cut. “But it’s also easy to grow resentful of how easy it is for some people, when you’re literally mixing your own powders and chemicals to inject into your belly, shoving progesterone up there.”
“You hear stories about IVF working the first try. But you’ll hear a lot more stories about when it takes a few times. Ours didn’t work the first time, and it was devastating,” she shared. “You realize that a lot of it is luck, and you can’t blame things on yourself. It’s so easy to try to figure out what you might have done ‘wrong’ and do the opposite the next time. The first round I did of IVF, when it didn’t work, I remember thinking, Oh, I was on my feet too much, and that’s why. You just look for anything to blame, especially yourself. I think hearing stories is just really important. You realize there’s no right way to do it, or right way to react.”
The actress and We’re Going to Need More Wine author revealed in her book that she suffered several miscarriages and underwent three years of failed IVF treatments before she and husband Dwyane Wade welcomed daughter Kaavia James via gestational surrogate in 2017.
“I have had eight or nine miscarriages,” Union wrote in the book. “For three years, my body has been a prisoner of trying to get pregnant — I’ve either been about to go into an IVF cycle, in the middle of an IVF cycle, or coming out of an IVF cycle.”
Union, who later learned that her miscarriages were caused by adenomyosis, a form of endometriosis, also got candid about how painful it can be to talk about infertility publicly.
“For so many women, and not just women in the spotlight, people feel very entitled to know, ‘Do you want kids?' ” she told PEOPLE. “A lot of people, especially people that have fertility issues, just say ‘no’ because that’s a lot easier than being honest about whatever is actually going on. People mean so well, but they have no idea the harm or frustration it can cause.”
Hugh Jackman & Deborra-Lee Furness
The Greatest Showman star and wife Furness tried IVF twice before eventually adopting two children — son Oscar in 2000 and daughter Ava in 2005. Jackman opened up to Good Housekeeping in 2013 about the heart-wrenching experience.
“While you're going through IVF and get pregnant, every day [the feeling is], We're still holding! We're still holding…!” he told the outlet. "You know how precarious it is and how much she's been through to get there. And [miscarriage] is a massive letdown. It's really difficult — and much harder for the woman."
In her 2005 book Down Came the Rain, the model wrote about her frustration with the IVF process and her emotional journey to motherhood. Trying to get pregnant with husband Chris Henchy at age 36, her doctor suggested she try IVF.
"The whole process was quite an ordeal, and we became slaves to the time of day and to little vials of liquid," she wrote. "We'd find ourselves out at dinner with friends, and then we'd have to sneak off to a coat room, where we'd huddle over syringes and a travel-size cooler filled with small bottles of drugs."
While she did become pregnant after her first round of IVF, she suffered a miscarriage. “I didn't want to be happy anymore for the many other people who were having kids,” she wrote of her resulting depression at the time. Just before she and her husband were about to give up on the IVF process — they had already endured several unsuccessful attempts — “we decided to try it one more time.” That last attempt brought daughter Rowan into the world in 2003, and Shields ended up welcoming another daughter, Grier, in 2006 without assistance.
After a successful first IVF cycle resulted in the birth of the singer’s son René-Charles in 2001, she and her husband René Angélil decided to try again — but they soon found it wouldn’t be as easy as the first time. Dion, who grew up with 13 siblings, spoke to PEOPLE about the rollercoaster of emotion she endured during six cycles of IVF, before she finally gave birth to twin sons Eddy and Nelson in 2010.
“It’s not, ‘Oh, poor Celine,’ but it’s a lot,” she said of the process — which includes estrogen patches, blood tests and hormone injections — in a 2010 interview. “I give the shots to myself. But [husband] René’s with me.” At one point, she suffered a devastating miscarriage. “You do everything [right], and you’re careful, and you rest, and then …”
For Dion, the sixth try was a charm, and the couple welcomed their “miracle twins” in 2010.
The former First Lady made headlines when she opened up to Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts about feeling “lost and alone” during her struggles with infertility and her eventual decision to pursue IVF, which she wrote candidly about in her memoir Becoming.
“I felt like I failed, because I didn't know how common miscarriages were because we don't talk about them,” Obama told Roberts of the miscarriages she suffered before welcoming daughter Malia in 1998 and Sasha in 2001 with husband Barack.
“We sit in our own pain, thinking that somehow we’re broken. So, that's one of the reasons why I think it's important to talk to young mothers about the fact that miscarriages happen, and the biological clock is real.”
After her miscarriages, she realized “that as I was 34 and 35, we had to do IVF.” She added that women speaking openly about their infertility experiences with each other is crucial to helping lessen the stigmas around it. “I think it's the worst thing that we do to each other as women, not share the truth about our bodies and how they work, and how they don't work," she said.
“I just think it's important to get things out there so people can realize they're not alone,” Cox said of sharing her complicated journey to motherhood on an episode of Busy Tonight in 2019.
“I had a lot of miscarriages, and I don't think that's something that people shouldn't talk about, because ... it was unfortunate but it happens," she added.
“I get pregnant pretty easily, but I have a hard time keeping them,” the Friends star told PEOPLE in 2003, while she was trying to conceive with then-husband David Arquette. “I don’t say it’s a walk in the park. But what are you going to do? We just try again,” she continued. She suffered “quite a few” miscarriages before giving birth to daughter Coco, whom she welcomed in 2004, through IVF.