"The whole process was quite an ordeal, and we became slaves to the time of day and to little vials of liquid."
The journey to welcoming a baby can be a complicated and difficult process, especially when so many people struggle with infertility issues. And because of that, thousands of families turn to in vitro fertilization (IVF) to help them expand their families. The process, which involves the extraction of eggs to be fertilized in a laboratory, can be long, strenuous and expensive — but people don't often talk about it.
That's why many celebrities, who have gone through the highs and lows of IVF, have decided to open up in the hopes of reaching other people who are going through the same thing. While some of their stories may be heart-wrenching, others have found success that brought them their greatest joy. No matter what they went through, it's important to hear their stories and shed light on a subject that isn’t talked about nearly enough.
Here's what these celebs had to say about IVF…
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When Kourtney Kardashian and fiancé Travis Barker decided to start trying for a baby, they turned to IVF. On an episode of "The Kardashians," Kourtney called the experience "awful" and said it was making her depressed. On top of that, the medication she was prescribed put her in menopause.
"Travis and I want to have a baby, and so my doctor took us down this road of doing IVF, and it hasn't been the most amazing experience…I think because I'm so clean and careful with what I put into my body, it's just having the complete opposite reaction and is working as a contraceptive instead of helping us…I have everything in the world to be happy about, I just feel a little bit off, super moody and hormonal. I'm a lunatic half the time. I think we want it so badly because we want to make something together," Kourtney said.
2. Amy Schumer
Amy Schumer began her IVF journey in 2020 in the hopes of giving her son Gene a sibling, but unfortunately it didn't work out. She says the IVF process left her"feeling really run down and emotional" and although she was able to retrieve 31 eggs, she only got "one normal embryo."
"I got like 31 eggs and I was like, ‘''m Fertile Myrtle.' I felt very hot. And then the drop off after fertilization, we only got one normal embryo and we tried and it didn't work…and now I don't have a uterus. So we're gonna have just one child and we're just enjoying our little family and I'm just focusing on that. I'm excited about it but I was sad. And it's not really something you get sympathy for because it's like, you already have one bitch, shut up. But you know, that's a real struggle people go through. We tried, but yeah we're just gonna have the one perfect little adorable angel," Amy said on Chelsea Handler's podcast "Dear Chelsea."
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3. Celine Dion
Celine Dion is a mom of three children that she all welcomed through IVF. While she says it was an easy process to get pregnant with her eldest son Rene-Charles, she had to go through six rounds of IVF before welcoming her twins Nelson and Eddy.
"I thought as long as my health permitted me and unless my doctor thought physically I couldn't do it, then I would go on with the IVF until someone told me to stop. With any pregnancy, whether it's through IVF or not, you feel a danger. You have to remain positive and try to relax as much as possible. I always say my children's first country is inside of me, so I try to make it a good one and be healthy," Celine told Sunday People.
Michelle Obama and her husband Barack utilized IVF to help welcome their daughters, Sasha and Malia. The former first lady shared that after dealing with a miscarriage, they decided to turn to IVF. In her memoir "Becoming," Michelle explained that the process was difficult, particularly because Barack was busy with his political career and unable to devote his full attention to her. She said that she was left "largely on [her] own to manipulate [her] reproductive system into peak efficiency." Thankfully, the process was successful and she welcomed two healthy daughters.
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5. Kristen Wiig
Before Kristen Wiig and her husband Avi Rothman welcomed twins into their family, they tried out IVF. The "SNL" alum says she spent three years in an "IVF haze," which challenged her "emotionally, spiritually, and medically." Calling it the "most difficult time" in her life, Kristen says she just wasn't herself for the entire time period.
"There are so many emotions that go with it — you're always waiting by the phone and getting test results, and it was just bad news after bad news. Occasionally there would be a good month, but then it was just more bad news. There was a lot of stress and heartache…It was a long f---ing time. 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 shots in airplane bathrooms and at restaurants — and those shots are no joke," Kristen told InStyle.
Eventually, the couple decided to use a surrogate and were able to welcome their two children.
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6. Lena Dunham
In early 2020, Lena Dunham began her journey with IVF and attempted to harvest her eggs. She had previously thought that the process wouldn't be possible due to her battle with endometriosis, which had left her with no cervix, no uterus and just one ovary. While a doctor was able to harvest some of her eggs, she soon learned that unfortunately none of them were able to be fertilized.
While Lena had always had a "keen instinct" that IVF wouldn't work for her, she admits that the entire process sent her into a state of "depression accompanied by addiction." As she went through the motions of feeling like she'd "lost [her] sense of [her] own role in the universe," it made her "rethink what motherhood will look like."
"IVF destroyed my body—as a woman who tends towards rampant endometriosis, filling my body with estrogen…and because of what my body has been through, subjecting it to such excruciating pain, only to come to the end and learn those eggs were not viable after working so hard through illness and discomfort and going through anxiety and depression, it is just clearly not something I can ever repeat," Lena told People.
Thankfully, Lena is in a better place now, and "loves the idea of becoming a mother in the way that's right" for her. Whenever she does welcome a child into her life, she says she won't take for granted "how many stops, twists and turns it has taken for that child to be in [her] arms" and hopes that she can show others on the road to motherhood that being a mom looks different for every person.
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Gabrielle Union had a difficult journey to motherhood before welcoming her daughter Kaavia. In her 2017 memoir, "We're Going to Need More Wine," she opened up about her three-year-long IVF journey and the multiple miscarriages she suffered along the way.
"I have had eight or nine miscarriages. 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," Gabrielle wrote.
After the lengthy process, Gabrielle and her husband, Dwyane Wade, ultimately chose to use a gestational surrogate to help welcome their daughter.
When Brooke Shields was in her 30s, she turned to IVF after having surgery on her cervix that left scarring that affected her ability to become pregnant. Looking back on the difficult process, Brooke recounted having to take "shots for weeks" and “countless doctors visits." On top of that, she had to be ready to give herself the injections at any time of the day, no matter what she was doing.
"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 coat room, where we'd huddle over syringes and a travel-size cooler filled with small bottles of drugs," she wrote in her memoir, "Down Came the Rain."
Following the first round of IVF, she suffered a miscarriage and then repeated failed cycles. In the summer of 2002, Brooke and her husband decided they were only going to give it one more try — and successfully got pregnant with her daughter Rowan.
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Courteney Cox suffered several miscarriages before learning that she had a rare antibody in her blood that prevented pregnancies from reaching full term. After making the discovery, Courteney and her then-husband David Arquette decided to try IVF and after two rounds, they were finally able to get pregnant. The couple welcomed their daughter Coco in 2004. Now, Courteney believes it's important to be open about fertility struggles.
"I had a difficult time. 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. I didn't want to give up…I just think it's important to get things out there so people can realize they're not alone," Courteney said on "Busy Tonight."
10. Chrissy Teigen
Chrissy Teigen and her husband John Legend tried to get pregnant for years before turning to IVF. The model, who has long been open about her fertility journey, says the process of welcoming the couple’s children Luna and Miles was difficult but made her realize just how important it was for women to share their stories.
"It's 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. You realize that a lot of it is luck, and you can't blame things on yourself," Chrissy said in an interview with The Cut.