“I Often Felt Like Something Was Wrong With Me”: 11 Times Stars Were Open And Honest About Infertility Struggles
You may not have known it, but this week marks National Infertility Awareness Week. It’s a time to take the stigma out of talking about the struggles women go through in their hopes of expanding their families. Thankfully, more and more people are coming out with their stories, including those of fame and prestige, to help other women not feel so alone. In commemoration of this very important week, we gathered up some of the testimonies of well-known women of color who opened up about the barriers they faced in their attempts to have children. And for the record, there are levels to infertility. The medical definition of it is not getting pregnant despite having timed, unprotected sex for at least a year. It isn’t a permanent thing in every case, and there is even secondary infertility, which is the inability to conceive a second or future child. So now that that’s clear, and some of the sting is removed from the “infertility,” check out some of the honest stories these famous women shared about their experiences with infertility, by hitting the flip.
In an essay for Women’s Health in 2018, Kenya Moore talked about how she went from struggling with painful fibroids in her 30s, and having multiple surgeries to deal with them, to finding herself struggling when she wanted to start having kids.
“My doctors never told me that the procedures could affect my fertility one day,” she said. “It wasn’t until after a few surgeries and having to go back to get another fibroid removed—this time I had one the size of a full-term baby—that someone finally said something. It was actually one of my nurse practitioners who told me, ‘At some point, your uterus will not recover from all of this.'”
She was eventually able, through IVF, to conceive her daughter, Brooklyn.
“If I could tell Black women anything, it would be: Listen to your body,” she added. “If something doesn’t feel right, do not be afraid to go see a doctor or a specialist. Living with a problem is never the answer. That’s what I did with my fibroids. There I was, walking around with growths in my uterus, and I had no idea. And that could have affected my prospects of carrying a baby. I’d also say that if you do run into struggles, don’t give up. IVF, egg freezing, surrogates, adoption—it can all sound overwhelming and expensive. But there are ways to find the funds, from financing to loans. So don’t panic. There are always options.”
The legendary model and businesswoman said she put off having children for so long that by the time she was ready, time was running out for her.
“When I turned 40, the one thing I was not happy about is that I did not have kids,” she told PEOPLE. “I’m like, ‘Damn, the clock is ticking!'”
“When you’re like, ‘OK, I’m just going to do it,’ then it’s not so easy as you get older,” she said about trying through IVF with her ex-boyfriend, Erik Asla. “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.”
Banks and Asla would eventually welcome their son, York, via surrogate.
The actress opened up in her book, We’re Going to Need More Wine, about the pain of suffering quite a few miscarriages, and sadness that would come when IVF cycles she tried were not successful. She said she shared her story in the hopes of taking the shame away for others.
“I wouldn’t talk about it in the book if I wasn’t really ready to talk about it, because this is an issue that affects so many families,” she said. “I was just going to say women, but it really affects your family. It affects our communities. And there are so many women suffering in silence. So many families suffering in silence who feel like there is so much shame and guilt surrounding miscarriages. ‘There’s something I must have done. It’s me. I’m a failure.’ But if there’s anything that I can say, it’s that it’s not you. You are beautiful and valid and amazing. And there are so many different paths to parenthood, and loving and caring and nurturing for children that one way is not the only definition. There’s not one way to define womanhood or motherhood and every route to being a parent is beautiful and valid and to be celebrated.”
Union would welcome miracle baby Kaavia via surrogate with husband Dwyane Wade last year.
The RHOA star shared that she and husband Todd Tucker were hoping to have another child after welcoming son Ace via IVF in 2016, but hadn’t been successful. She is hopeful that they will be able to have another baby with the help of a surrogate.
“We’re definitely trying to figure out ways to grow our family,” she told ESSENCE last year. “Unfortunately, it’s not happening. So obviously we’re just going to be talking about what that means for our family.”
“You know how we all just think it’s easy?” she added. “You’re going to get pregnant whenever you feel like it? For years and years, I was on birth control [and I] didn’t even know that I didn’t need it any more.”
The actress has struggled with endometriosis for years. And while she had son Cree, her attempts to have another child were not working. Mowry said that despite a few surgeries to deal with her endometriosis and fix her infertility issues, things didn’t change until she completely overhauled her diet. After that, she and husband Cory Hardrict were able to welcome daughter Cairo last year.
“I remembered how, even though I had an amazing support system, I often felt like something was wrong with me,” she said in an essay for Women’s Health. “I thought I was alone because no one I knew personally had dealt with this. And then I realized: I’d never really seen someone African American in the public eye talking about endometriosis or their struggles with infertility. And when you don’t know or see anyone else who looks like you talking about what you’re going through, you feel alone and suffer in silence.”
The rapper, who had a very public ectopic pregnancy soon after marrying husband Papoose in 2016, was eventually able to conceive in 2018 with the help of IVF.
She told women in an essay for Women’s Health, “for those who are having issues starting a family, whether it’s infertility, or rebounding from a miscarriage like me, there is nothing wrong with you. You are still amazing. Whether you can or cannot bare children, it does not diminish or lessen the fact that you’re a woman, and you are you. My journey has been difficult, and a lot of women go through difficult things. But we are strong. And I wouldn’t change any single part of my story.”
The Love and Hip Hop star shared her story on the show in 2017 while trying to offer encouragement to Remy as she prepared to try IVF (which she was successful with). While JuJu didn’t name her ex-boyfriend Cam’ron, it was implied that he was the person she tried “for a long time” to have a child with.
“Don’t get discouraged is what I’m saying, because I actually went through it myself. We tried for a long time to have kids,” she said on the show before tearing up. “Each month I would be like, ‘Ok, let me see if I’m pregnant.’ I would take the test and I wasn’t. I felt like it was something wrong with me. I felt like, he has a son. This is the man I love, why can’t I have a baby with him? And I would feel like, ok, am I less than a woman because I haven’t had a baby yet? I felt that way.”
In an interview with us while trying to promote her old OWN show Livin’ Lozada, the Basketball Wives star opened up about infertility struggles while trying to do IVF after having son Carl, Jr. She actually miscarried on Thanksgiving.
“As I’m walking in the door holding my son, we’re walking into Carl’s family’s house is when I felt it,” she said. “I could have played it off, but I feel like fertility is something a lot of women don’t speak about. That’s why I’m so open in wanting to talk about it. I feel like as women you feel responsible. You take blame, and I don’t want women to take blame. So that’s why I’m so open in wanting to talk about it.”
The former Basketball Wives star found herself dealing with secondary infertility struggles after overcoming ovarian cancer. However, she never let it get her down.
“I would say to hang in there. I know the struggle,” she told us in an interview a few years ago. “I’m still dealing with it because I want a second child, but I postponed that. But dealing with the whole issue and not knowing, you worry. But the more that you worry, the more that you let stuff get to you, the more that you let things bother you, that’s a health risk in itself. You have to be careful and have positive energy or it all will really wear on your body. And for any woman who can’t get pregnant whether they have cancer or not, there are other options. Of course I want my second child, but I’m so blessed that I have my first baby. So if my doctor says that I can’t have my second child biologically, I can adopt. There are other options.”
Tamar Braxton was able to have her miracle baby, Logan, in 2013. Before and after though, the singer said she struggled with infertility.
“Early on, there was a time where I was like, ‘I don’t want kids! I’m all about my career,’ and my gynecologist said, ‘Here’s the thing, Tamar: You never know what life is ever going to throw you, so you should really consider freezing your eggs,'” she told Glamour in 2017. “Vince and I talked about it, and when I went for my initial IVF—when I was just going to freeze my eggs—I didn’t know that I had infertility issues. I was blocked on both sides as if I had my tubes tied. I was 34 when I found this out. They don’t know what causes that. The devil? Ha! It’s just my makeup. The doctors didn’t think I couldn’t have kids; it wasn’t going to happen [the natural] way. I didn’t even know that until I went to go freeze my eggs. But I was cool with it, because at that time I didn’t even want to have kids. Now, I would have started at 28, 29, 30, but you don’t know until you know.”
While Houghton has made it clear that she doesn’t “have fertility issues,” in the same breath, she has admitted that getting pregnant hasn’t gone as planned.
“I’m really enjoying the process of making it! That’s been a good time,” she said in January. “I joked around on my show but obviously there is a realness to the fact that not everybody gets pregnant the first time they try. For me it just hasn’t been that way. We actually started trying in August so I know a lot of people were like, ‘Oh my God.’ I do want to clarify, I don’t have fertility issues. I think it is important [to say that] because that’s a really serious thing, you shouldn’t throw that around. But we do have to be just more sensitive in general. I thought I could try and it would just happen and it didn’t work out that way, but I do believe in God’s timing. I’m in no rush, and we’re enjoying ourselves.”