‘For everyone going through infertility and conception hell, please know it was not a straight line for me’
Speaking out about previously whispered ‘women’s troubles’ is helping to remove the stigma behind not getting pregnant straight away, writes Amanda Cassidy
“All kidding aside, for everyone going through infertility and conception hell, please know it was not a straight line to either of my pregnancies. Sending you extra love,” wrote Anne Hathaway as she shared her baby news on Instagram. This small sentence cut through the usual Hollywood gloss and gave us a glimpse of her pregnancy struggle – a struggle shared by so many women.
Fertility problems are no longer whispered (as much) and it is partly due to those in the spotlight using their platform to remind us that there is no shame in the struggle to have children.
Related: Michelle Obama opens up about her fertility
In 2016 Tyra Banks, queen of the smize, gave a candid interview about her rounds of failed IVF before she had her son, York; ‘You know, putting needles in your tummy every day and having to come to work and smile when you feel like you want to throw up and lay down…I can’t believe I’m saying this right now.” Feeling solidarity with others going through a similar struggle is not only helpful from an emotional point of view but it also stops the isolation so many couples describe after failed attempts to get pregnant.
“It was kind of weird to hide that all the time”
Chrissy Teigen, former Supermodel and all-round awesome person, approached the subject of her fertility struggles with her usual candour. Before she fell pregnant with her two children, she described the feeling when people would ask them when they were “ever going to have a baby?”
“We would have kids five, six years ago if it’d happened. But my gosh, it’s been a process! So, anytime somebody asks me if I’m going to have kids, I’m like, ‘One day, you’re going to ask that to the wrong girl who’s really struggling, and it’s going to be really hurtful to them. And I hate that. So, I hate it. Stop asking me!'”
“It was kind of weird to hide that all the time. So it was nice to be able to just share it and have the platform to share it where people listen.”
No more whispering
Of course, it is such a personal thing and not everyone wants to open up about what they are going through. Many of the women we spoke to who were having trouble conceiving explained that they didn’t feel it would help. Emer had four rounds of IVF before she fell pregnant with her daughter. “I was in a complete bubble. I only had the energy to focus on the procedures, my health and our desire to have a baby. I didn’t feel that my friends who sailed through conception would get it.”
Those who have had a miscarriage admitted that they didn’t share the information because it was impossible to convey to others what it is like. Most women only want to talk with those who have been through it themselves.
Dr David McLernon, lead researcher on a new study into IVF. He says that couples who undergo IVF treatment should understand the gravity of what it entails to go through this “physically and emotionally demanding” experience, regardless of the result. The study published found that one in six women were able to conceive after having undergone failed IVF.
When it is unsuccessful, understandably couples can be left distraught,” Dr McLernon said. “Hopefully, this study will give couples a clearer idea of their chances of conceiving naturally even after IVF has been unsuccessful.”
Making an informed choice is not something that comes easily when it comes to bringing a baby into the world but for many having celebrities speak out about pregnancy complications brings an element of comfort. Emer admits that hearing Beyonce speak so openly about her miscarriage did allow her to explore her own feelings a little more. “It made this horrific time not feel so abnormal. I felt really angry with my body and that I was different from everyone else with their healthy babies. I felt less unanchored.”
Beyonce, a mother to seven-year-old Blue Ivy and two-year-old twins Rumi and Sir had a miscarriage when she was 28. “I flew back to New York to get my checkup—and no heartbeat. Literally, the week before I went to the doctor, everything was fine, but [the next time] there was no heartbeat.”
Complications when it comes to baby-making are common and perhaps celebrities like Anne Hathaway getting real about exactly what she went through is helping.
Image via Unsplash.com
Read more: How acupuncture can help with your fertility
Read more: 10 fertility myths and facts
Read more: The reality of a decade of IVF