Up until recently, infertility was an intensely private matter. Women would go to great lengths to hide their challenges…which unfortunately led many to believe that infertility was a rare phenomenon. A refreshing thing has happened in the last 5 to 10 years. We have become more open about the issue of infertility – and many women are coming forth with their own stories. Among them are some notable women in the media – who have been generous enough to share their experiences and reveal how infertility affects everyone:
“When you’re having trouble conceiving, it’s often tough to know where to turn for answers, and when you’re undergoing fertility treatment, it’s not always easy to find the support that you need. As natural as we’d all like it to seem, it’s important for women to be aware of potential problems and to take control.”
“We decided to skip our honeymoon and try in vitro after the wedding. I had already been through infertility treatments. It’s very, very difficult to get pregnant in your 40s. It’s costly and tough on your body and your relationship.”
“I don’t like the average woman being misled into thinking that fertility is something that goes on forever. When a woman gets older, they get a donor egg, which doesn’t make the baby any less beautiful or perfect. One’s own eggs only last so long, and sometimes at 43 or 44 you can have your own baby, but statistically it’s very difficult and expensive. You don’t want to wait that long.”
“I never gave up. But I can tell you that it was physically and emotionally exhausting.”
“I get pregnant pretty easily, but I have a hard time keeping them.”
Jamie Lee Curtis:
Jamie wrote a children’s book, called “Tell Me Again About the Night I was Born” to “let children who joined their families through adoption know that their own birth stories were exciting too.
Sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Robison of the Dixie Chicks:
“The more people talk about it, the less stigma there is. I never want anyone to feel that it’s not as beautiful a way to have a child as any other.”
And a few men have been open as well:
“We still wanted to adopt. That was our plan: we’ll have two and we’ll adopt one. Anyway we didn’t have children. We tried and that was tough. But the moment Oscar arrived, it just felt like he was always meant to come that way. I forget he’s adopted; he’s just my son.”
“Naturally is cheaper and way more fun than in-vitro fertilization. But with IVF we did get to sing old Velvet Underground tunes together while I used a real hypodermic needle to give Emily her hormone shots.”
Other notables who have been forthcoming with their struggles: Sarah Jessica Parker, Angela Bassett, Emma Thompson, Nicole Kidman, Kirstie Alley, Joan Lunden.
In the end, whether you choose to be open with your infertility – or feel more comfortable keeping it private — recognize that it is a very common issue that affects many many women today. And remember that your friends and family who have gone through treatment may not necessarily reveal all the details. In fact, many will say that ‘donor egg IVF’ has replaced plastic surgery as the best-kept secret in Hollywood (& elsewhere). Everyone – including a fertility patient – is entitled to reveal only what they feel comfortable doing so. The point is to not assume that no one around you is dealing with the same issues…even if you are not hearing it out loud.
We are lucky in this day and age to have so many more fertility options than even 5 or 10 years ago. With treatments like intrauterine insemination, surgery, IVF, donor egg IVF, and the use of fertility medications and gestational carriers, we can create families now in cases which would not have been possible just a short time ago. Some couples may ultimately decide that fostering a child or adoption makes the most sense for them. There is not one ‘right’ way to have a child. However your children come to you is the way it was meant to be.