Chrissy Teigen Says the Infertility Community Helped Her Heal

Chrissy Teigen Says the Infertility Community Helped Her Heal

by Sue Jones
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Chrissy Teigen has been starting conversations about the often tough realities of reproductive health and parenthood since the beginning of her own journey to start a family. Teigen’s raw social media posts about the physical and emotional challenges of it all have helped destigmatize talking about some incredibly common experiences: fertility issues, IVF, pregnancy, postpartum depression, endometriosis, breastfeeding, and, most recently, the loss of a baby.

The mom of two and cookbook author is now partnering with Resolve: The National Infertility Association and Ferring Pharmaceuticals on a campaign called Fertility Out Loud, a platform where people struggling with fertility can access resources for getting help starting a family, as well as crucial social support.

The aim is to create a community where people can share their stories and offer support to each other—something that Teigen says has been key in her own fertility journey, including recovering from the loss of her son Jack last year. “My healing came from the outpouring of love,” Teigen tells SELF. “You just really hope that other people are able to get that outpouring of love as well.”

Fertility Out Loud is an expression of that hope, she says. “I wanted people to know that there was going to be a place where they could go and find resources, and a community where they’re surrounded by people who have been on the same journey as them.” Teigen herself has already drawn strength working with the community in the run-up to the campaign launch. “I’m proud to get to talk to the women I’ve gotten to talk to through it, that I’ve gotten to cry with them and all share our stories,” she says.

Teigen spoke to SELF about why she’s such a vocal advocate in this space, how social media can make people experiencing infertility feel more alone, grieving and healing after losing Jack, and learning from the ups and downs of a fertility journey.

SELF: Why has it been so important to you to be so open and honest in sharing your own story?

Chrissy Teigen: I think because of the fact that when I did talk about it, it caused such a stir. I think that’s when I realized, like, Oh, my God, are people not talking about this? I’m used to being really open and honest about everything, and people have seen every single part of our journey, and with that has come a lot of judgments and a lot of heartache.

But also, what’s really happened is just such an outpouring of love, and a community that’s been created that has rallied around us, and that’s been with us from the beginning. To see this community that was created once the conversation was started is so beautiful and something that I knew I wanted to be a part of. I didn’t want to just finally get pregnant and end the conversation. I wanted it to continue.

One in eight couples are struggling to get pregnant and to stay pregnant—I wish I had known that when I was starting my fertility journey, because I felt so alone and so isolated, and so like a failure as a woman. And the more I spoke about it, the more DMs and emails and letters I was getting. If it wasn’t public, people were privately sharing it with me. It got to be that there were so many people doing that that I knew it had to be normalized to talk about.

I’m a celebrity. People are going to reach out, people are going to stop me in the grocery store and hold my hand and shed a tear, or stop me on the street to say that was impactful. But that’s not going to happen to every woman that’s walking down the street, and to me that’s heartbreaking and it’s unfair. I want people to know that they are seen and they’re heard and that other people are going through this. And I think once the conversation is started and a community is created, that’s [when] things are going to get better.

Why do you think it is that this stigma persists for something that is so common? Why are people still uncomfortable talking about it?

I think because it comes out as a personal failure. Babies are so celebrated, and we’re flooded with them on social media. It seems like every day, someone is having a baby—you are constantly being bombarded with happy, healthy babies in your face. Of course, a happy parent wants to take pictures of their child and post them, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s putting it in people’s heads that everyone is having happy, healthy babies all the time.

You’re not sharing photos of yourself laying down in the embryo transfer room. You’re not taking pictures of giving yourself shots or putting vaginal progesterone gel in. So it’s hard to see that people are going through this when no one’s showing it. And to a lot of people, if they don’t see it or hear about it, it’s not happening. Especially these days in the age of social media.

There’s the dark side of doing these shots and taking these hormones and these pills. That’s not so glamorous so we’re not sharing it as much, and people are feeling like it’s just them. When you feel alone, it feels like, No one’s going to want to hear about this, because no one else is going through this. And so it becomes this vicious cycle. It’s terrible.

What would you want to say to someone who’s recently gone through something similar?

I think everyone grieves in their own way. Just me, I have trouble realizing how recent it all was—it feels like years ago now, or lifetimes ago. It took a lot of doctors and therapists and medicine, and I finally am at the place where I have let go of the grief and truly healed. I want to celebrate what Jack’s created for us, which is such joy for the moments he was in my belly. And that’s joy that can never be taken away.

Of course, you think of what could’ve been and what he could’ve become. But you also have to be able to process things completely and grieve—and not hide those feelings, put them in a box in your brain, and store them in the back of your mind. Because that grief will come out in other ways. So it’s important to be able to talk about it, and have a partner that you can grieve with for however long you need to. Because as long as you’re grieving, you’re getting something out.

What’s your hope or wish for people struggling with infertility as a result of this continuing conversation? 

I would just love for people to not be so hard on themselves. We are hard on ourselves in every aspect of life. I think women are naturally tough on themselves. You want to be perfect. But we have to be able to rally around each other and understand that the perfection is in the imperfection.

We have to be able to stick up for each other and end the stigma and end the negative words when it comes to fertility and pregnancy and pregnancy loss. There are just so many taboos in this.

People shouldn’t feel like they’ve failed at anything. No one should feel that way when there are already a million other ways in life to feel like a failure. It’s just so unfair and unkind, what we do to our bodies and ourselves. So we just have to be kind to our bodies and good to one another, and that will make all the difference, honestly.

This interview has been condensed and edited for length and clarity.


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