Undergoing IVF treatment can be an emotional and physical challenge for anyone – no matter who you are.
But sometimes, it can be a comfort to hear from people we admire, such as celebrities – whose lives seem so glamorous and unattainable – who’ve gone through these challenging experiences, and come out the other side either way…
When Friends icon Courteney Cox became pregnant with her daughter Coco at the age of 39, it was revealed that she’d conceived using IVF.
“In vitro is a wonderful thing that people can do in this day and age, and I’m lucky enough to be able to afford it,” she reportedly told Good Housekeeping magazine.
She and then-husband David Arquette welcomed Coco in 2004.
John Legend and Chrissy Teigen
We know singer John Legend and model Chrissy Teigen as parents to baby Luna – but the couple have been very open about their struggle to conceive naturally.
The public first became aware of the couple’s IVF journey when Chrissy opened up on talk show FABLife, admitting she was taking shots (injections) to undergo IVF treatment.
She said: “It didn’t feel right to ever tweet, ‘Ugh, doing my IVF shots again.’ It just sounded silly. It definitely was not planned in that episode at all.”
She also revealed they’d wanted to have kids ‘5, 6 years earlier’ before having Luna – stating her fertility journey had been a ‘process’.
She was then forced to defend the couple’s decision to choose their baby’s sex during their IVF process.
“Not only am I having a girl, but I picked the girl from her little embryo. I picked her and was like, ‘Let’s put in the girl,” she told People.
“I think I was most excited and allured by the fact that John would be the best father to a little girl. That excited me. It excited me to see… just the thought of seeing him with a little girl. I think he deserves a little girl.
“I think he deserves that bond. A boy will come along. We’ll get there too, so it’s not like we really have to pick. But he definitely is very lucky to have a little girl. And this girl is going to be so completely lucky to have John as her papa — it’s crazy!”
Later on Twitter, she also revealed how the process worked: “We didn’t create a little girl. We had multiple embryos. Girls and boys. We simply chose to put in a female first (and second)…” she explained.
“We didn’t ‘throw away’ anything and still would love to have more of both in the future.”
It’s worth noting that Chrissy, also from the US, was legally allowed to do this – whereas here in the UK, sex selection is illegal.
Former BBC Countryfile presenter Julia has been very candid about her own experience with IVF.
At age 44, she went through 5 IVF attempts, costing around £3,000 each, before welcoming twins Xanthe and Zena in 2016. She also has a 4-year-old son, Zephyr.
Speaking to Mother & Baby, Julia detailed her experience in full:
“I am lucky to have Zephyr, but I had this longing to have a sibling for him. We started trying a few months after he was born. But nothing was happening.
“As I felt there was no time to spare, we decided to start IVF. Our IVF doctor, Dr Talha Shawaf, didn’t want to say ‘you have got a less than whatever chance’. But there’s a 35% chance of success when you are under 40, and less than 20% between 40 to 42.
“At 44, it was 5%, so in many ways, it is a small miracle.
“Five attempts is high and I couldn’t have gone on indefinitely – it’s gruelling. Somehow I was optimistic, but it was difficult and it did take its toll. It was two years of having treatments before I finally conceived.
“It cost approximately £3,000 a cycle, but there are other costs to cover, including the fertility drugs and all the appointments, which cost hundreds of pounds. But I was prepared to make other financial sacrifices.
“I wouldn’t call myself a poster girl [for IVF treatment over the age of 40], but I’ve been candid about the IVF, as there’s a stigma attached to it and I know people have a lot of questions.
“There are around 50,000 women having IVF in this country, and more women over 40 having children than ever.”
Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness
Wolverine star and actress wife Deborra-Lee are proud parents to 2 children: Oscar Maximillian and Ava Eliot – but their journey to parenthood wasn’t so easy.
The couple adopted their 2 children – something they’d always planned to do at some point in their lives – but they’d also tried to have biological children.
Hugh and Deborra-Lee underwent IVF treatment, which was unsuccessful, and suffered several miscarriages.
“To be clear, Deb and I always wanted to adopt,” he told People. “We didn’t know where in the process that would happen, but biologically, obviously, we tried and it was not happening for us.”
He’s also urged people to talk about miscarriage, saying: “It’s almost secretive. But it’s a good thing to talk about. It’s more common and it’s tough, there’s a grieving process you have to go through.”
Jools and Jamie Oliver
Former US First Lady Michelle, 54, shared that she and husband Barack Obama conceived their 2 daughters, Malia and Sasha, using IVF.
The couple sadly miscarried over 20 years ago, and eventually turned to assisted conception to help them have their family.
Legendary Canadian singer Celine Dion is a mum of 3, and conceived all of her children via IVF.
Her son Rene-Charles, born in 2001, was born after one IVF treatment, when Celine was aged 33. And as for her twins, Nelson and Eddy, born in 2010, she revealed she’d tried IVF 6 times ‘one after the other’ in order to become pregnant, at age 42.
Celine acknowledged that she felt ‘very fortunate’ to become pregnant with her twins… and even offered some words of advice and encouragement to other mums:
“I’d done 5 years at Caesars Palace and went half a year around the world on tour and it was finally time to get pregnant again,” she told the Daily Mail.
“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.”
It was also revealed in the Daily Mail interview that her twins were originally triplets, but one tragically died at 3 months into the pregnancy.
“I had three babies inside me. It was unbelievable. Every week I would go to the doctor and there would be 3 heartbeats. The doctor was freaking out because in your forties if you’re expecting more than one baby there’s a high risk of Down’s Syndrome. You’re also at risk of pre-eclampsia.
“I went for ultrasound every week and saw baby A, baby B and baby C, but one week baby C was no longer moving. Baby C had died. It was 3 months into the pregnancy and at that stage the baby is tiny. It doesn’t even come out.
“My husband and I shed a little tear. Then you reason to yourself that that baby has let go for a good reason. It was to give more strength to the other 2 babies.
“Who knows what might have gone wrong if 3 had remained? I didn’t have to make any decisions, any choices, I just focused on my 2 babies, and they got stronger and bigger.”
Iconic ‘70s actress Brooke has been open about her fertility struggle for many years. It’s been reported that Brooke underwent 7 rounds of the treatment before giving birth at the age of 37 – to her daughter Rowan.
She also revealed as part of her work as a spokesperson for fertilitylifelines.com that she didn’t know there were problems for a year after trying to conceive, and her IVF journey took 2 years.
When it was time to consider IVF, she was prescribed Lupron, a drug which slows the body’s production of hormones.
Then came the drugs to help her body produce more eggs. Brooke described the process in her memoir, Down Came The Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression (via Fertility Today):
“I had to take these shots for weeks. In addition, there were countless doctor visits for blood tests, sonograms, and peeing on sticks, not to mention the oestrogen patches I had to wear that made me look and feel like I’d had a skin graft when they were removed.
“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.”
Brooke’s 1st IVF attempt did take, but unfortunately she had a miscarriage.
“Everyone around me was getting pregnant. I was starting to feel bitter,” she admitted.
Though Brooke’s IVF journey had a successful outcome, she did tell NY Metro Parents how disheartening the process was for her:
“I never thought I would have problems. “I thought we’d decide to start a family and I’d soon become a mom, and it would all be easy, and glorious. I never dreamt I would become so informed about women’s fertility.
“After a while, when you’re not successful, you start to associate the word ‘failure’ every time you pee on a stick and it doesn’t come out the right colour.
“What starts out as a dream becomes a project that’s all consuming – everywhere you look, women are pregnant, and every song on the radio seems like it’s all about being pregnant! It becomes a very frustrating, frightening place.”
Supermodel Tyra Banks bravely opened up about her struggle to have children – and revealed she’d undergone IVF treatments to try and conceive.
Speaking about her realisation that having kids might not be so easy in her 40s, Tyra exclusively told People:
“When I turned 40, the one thing I was not happy about is that I did not have kids. I’m like, ‘Damn, the clock is ticking!’
“Since I was 24, I used to say every year, ‘I will have kids in three years’. I kept saying it over and over again. Because my business is very entrepreneurial. I’m not for hire, so I have to do everything. I kept trying to find that time for that to happen.
“When you’re like, ‘OK, I’m just going to do it,’ then it’s not so easy as you get older.
“I’ve had some not happy moments with that, very traumatic moments. It’s difficult as you get older. It’s not something that can just happen.”
Tyra and her partner Erik Asla welcomed their son York Banks Asla towards the end of 2016.
Original supermodel Christie reportedly had 3 miscarriages after unsuccessful IVF attempts… but eventually she welcomed her daughter Sailor with Peter Cook.
Love Actually’s Emma Thompson has detailed her fertility struggle in numerous interviews.
After giving birth to daughter Gaia through IVF in 1999, she and husband Greg Wise were unsuccessful in conceiving a 2nd child.
In 2010, The Telegraph reported that after several failed IVF attempts, Emma said: “For years I counted people’s children in the street and thought I’d never recover. But you do, of course.”
And Greg told the Daily Mail that he found the process of IVF to be ‘brutal’.
“We tried IVF a few times after having [Gaia] and it didn’t work,” he admitted.
“IVF is very upsetting. It’s a brutal process and it’s very emotional. It’s really hard. But then you pick yourself up, look around and see this unbelievably beautiful little baby you’ve got anyway.”
After their IVF heartache, the couple later adopted son Tindyebwa Agaba, a refugee former child soldier originally from Rwanda, when he was 16 years old in 2003.
Images: Instagram, Getty Images