Infertility sucks. There’s no getting around that fact. It’s emotionally draining, physically exhausting, and more than a little bit crazy-making. Throughout my own experience with infertility, I’ve found it incredibly helpful to know that I’m not alone, and that other people understand how hard it is when you can’t have babies the old-fashioned way. (Seriously, reproductive system: You. Had. One. Job.)
Strangely enough, hearing about celebrities who’ve battled this beast can be somewhat comforting. Although they’re blessed with personal trainers, individual chefs, and gorgeous mansions in Hollywood Hills, many of them struggle with infertility just as much as the rest of us do. They, too, have been through the wringer with miscarriages, fertility treatments, and IVF, and they know how miserable the whole experience is.
Each celebrity here experienced a different path to parenthood — some did IVF, some adopted their children, and others turned to gestational surrogates — and in the end, they all became parents to kiddos they adore.
Nicole Kidman, in addition to being a talented actor, has also spoken openly about her experience with infertility. During her 11-year marriage to Tom Cruise, Kidman’s fertility struggles led the couple to adopt two children, Bella and Connor. After Cruise and Kidman divorced in 2001, Kidman eventually married country music superstar Keith Urban in 2006. Their eldest daughter, Sunday Rose, was born in 2008, and their second daughter, Faith, was born via surrogate in 2011.
“I had tried and failed and failed and failed…I’ve had an ectopic pregnancy, miscarriages, and fertility treatments,” Kidman told Australian magazine Who in 2012. “I’ve done all the stuff you can possibly do to try to get pregnant. So the way it just happened with Sunday was like, ‘What?’ The percentages were so low. It is the miracle in my life.”
In 2015, supermodel Chrissy Teigen opened up to Tyra Banks about her struggle to conceive, saying “John [Legend] and I are having trouble. We would have had kids five, six years ago if it had happened. But my gosh, it’s been a process!”
In a separate interview with SELF Magazine, Teigen explained how bewildering and difficult her journey had been. “The big question was why this wasn’t working for us when I was young and he was healthy,” Teigen said. “I thought, people get pregnant by accident all the time! How does this happen?” The couple turned to IVF and had to undergo a few rounds of treatment before getting pregnant, but eventually welcomed daughter Luna in February 2016.
Teigen told People that she’ll likely have to undergo more rounds of IVF in order to complete her dream of having a large family, saying “the number of embryos we have left is not matching the number of people I want at my dinner table, so we’ll have to do it again…we have a few more on ice. Who knows what will work?”
Elizabeth Banks — who fans of The Hunger Games will recognize as Effie Trinket, while 30 Rock aficionados know her as Avery Jessup — told Women’s Health in 2012 that after years of unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant, she and her husband decided to work with a gestational surrogate. “It helped that other moms and 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.” Their decision to pursue surrogacy paid off. In 2011, Banks and her husband welcomed son Felix into the world.
After marrying her husband, Chris Henchy, in 2001, Shields told People that she tried to get pregnant right away — but after six months of unsuccessful attempts, she and Henchy turned to IVF. Shields got pregnant during the first round of treatment, but she miscarried after three months. “We were crushed,” she said.
Over the next eight months, she and Henchy underwent six more rounds of IVF. “Being a Type A personality, I’ve always believed that if I just did my homework, if I worked hard enough, I’d get the results he wanted. But you can’t ensure success unless you’re God — and you’re not. Neither are the doctors. Maybe I’ll never know why it happened,” she says, “But it made me understand the difference between wanting to have a baby and truly wanting to be a mother.” In August 2002, the IVF treatments worked and Shields got pregnant again — and in May 2003, she gave birth to her daughter Rowan.
Elisabeth Rohm, famous for her role as Serena Southerlyn on Law & Order, opened up about her struggle with infertility on her blog for People. “There are certain experiences that almost every woman looks forward to as a rite of passage. Pregnancy is one of them…It’s devastating when you simply can’t do it the natural way and your body can’t function as you believed that it would during your whole young adult life,” she wrote in her 2011 blog post. After she wasn’t able to get pregnant the old-fashioned way, Rohm’s doctor ran some tests and discovered that she was likely going into early menopause at age 34.
Rohm and her husband, Ron, wound up pursuing IVF, which Rohm described as “a roller coaster of physical and emotional challenges” — but it was a ride that ultimately paid off when Rohm gave birth to her daughter, Easton, in 2008. “I thank God every day for the medical advancements that allowed me the choice to be the mother I had dreamed of being,” she wrote.
Having a family didn’t come easily to Hugh Jackman and his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness. “We did IVF and Deb had a couple of miscarriages…There’s a grieving that you have to go through,” Jackman explained.
However, once Jackman and Furness decided to pursue adoption, everything changed. Jackman said that as soon as their son, Oscar, was born, “all the heartache just melted away.” The couple welcomed their daughter, Ava, five years later, and Jackman couldn’t be happier with his family of four.
“You can’t even explain how incredible it is and that avalanche of emotion that comes and how it opens up your heart…how alive you are as a parent,” he said.
The Dixie Chicks’ Emily Robinson and Martie Maguire
Sisters Emily Robinson and Martie Maguire of the Dixie Chicks both struggled with infertility and miscarriages. “You grow up as a woman, I think, thinking that you’re going to have a child and that it’s just kind of your God-given right to the next step. And when it doesn’t happen, you’re shocked and saddened, and it’s such an emotional journey to go on,” said Maguire in a 2006 interview with ABC.
“I think you go through almost every motion,” said Robinson. “I know my husband felt guilty. I felt guilty.” The Dixie Chicks even wrote a song, “It’s So Hard When It Doesn’t Come Easy,” about the challenges that Robinson and Maguire faced when trying to have children. “Thank God for science,” Robinson added. “We have been blessed to live in an era when we have been able to do something about it.”
Although neither Robinson nor Maguire specified which fertility treatments, if any, they underwent, it all worked out in the end. Robinson and her husband have three children including twins Henry and Juliana, and Maguire and her husband are parents to twins Eva and Kathleen.