Tyra Banks on Fertility Struggles: “You Don’t Know What I’m Going Through”

It’s not every day that we see Hollywood stars break down and cry off-script, but that’s just what happened the other day when Chrissy Teigen and Tyra Banks revealed for the first time on Banks’ talkshow FABLife that getting pregnant hasn’t been as easy as they thought it would be. In fact, it’s been quite a struggle for both of them.

Starting the conversation supermodel Chrissy Teigen, who has been with John Legend since 2007 and married since 2013, said that she’s been fielding questions about having children for years:

“It’s kind of crazy because I can’t imagine being that nosy to be like, ‘so when are the kids coming?’ because who knows what somebody’s going through? … I will say honestly, John and I were having trouble. We would have had kids 5, 6 years ago if it happened. But my gosh it’s been a process.”

After coming back from commercial, a visibly emotional Banks added to the conversation, opening up about her own story, which left her in tears by the end:

“I am so tired of seeing on my social media, ‘Why don’t you have kids?’ You don’t know! You don’t know what I’m going through, you have no idea. It’s so funny, when I was 23 I would tell myself, ‘In three years, I’m gonna have kids!’ And then I turned 24 and I’d say, ‘In three years, I’m going to have kids!’ And then every single year I kept saying that and then after a while it’s like, okay now I want to and it’s not so easy.”

Girl, I feel you.

There’s a stigma attached to pregnancy struggles, whether we intend for it or not. Some will say that women don’t talk about these things because it’s so personal, and that may be true for some. But over the last three years, I’ve shared my own challenges with fertility here on Babble, and I’ve heard from so many women who say no one knows what they go through. They don’t share it because they feel that infertility is a reflection on them, as though having a tough time getting (or staying) pregnant makes you less of a woman, or means you’re less worthy of being a woman, or that something is wrong with you.

This is how so many fertility-challenged women feel.

And this helps us understand a little bit why we don’t hear more about fertility problems from other high-profile women. These are women who seemingly “have it all” and yet their hearts ache for motherhood. It’s emotionally charged, this struggle. And when we choose to share the journey with others, we know we’re at risk of being looked at as though we are broken.

People will say that what Tyra Banks did on the show was brave. And it is. But I’d like to see more of it — from stars, from coworkers, from teachers, from friends, from the media — so that stories like ours become commonplace; so that we may continue to break down the stigma tied to fertility challenges, and so that the women who feel alone in their struggles can realize that, in fact, they are not alone. I want these women to find some peace in knowing that so many other women out there are going through the very same struggle — yes, even beautiful, famous models like Tyra Banks.

I also hope that in sharing these stories, we begin the very important task of countering the narrative that women can have babies whenever they want, that putting your career first and waiting until your 30s is no big deal. Yes, that is a viable option for many women, and I certainly don’t suggest that all women get knocked up at 20, but waiting to have a baby at an older age can create more risks, and there needs to be more information distributed about that so that women can make informed decisions.

The media consistently shows us, “older” women (you’re considered of “advanced maternal age” the day you hit 35, so the word “older” is a harsh reality here), having babies in their 40s. As a result, we’re left with the impression that any of us can do that. But the truth is, many of us can’t.

When you’re younger and feeling on top of the world in your 20s, you think you’ve got all the time in the world. I know I did. But that thinking is simply just not true.

Some women will go on to have no issues getting pregnant in their mid-late 30s, or even later, and that is a bigger blessing than they’ll ever, ever realize. But there is a huge number of women like myself, like Tyra Banks, like Mark Zuckerberg’s wife, who will spend years trying to get pregnant. We will also likely experience some devastating heartbreaks along the way. I most certainly did. People should know this. Younger people should know this reality exists. It should be talked about. We should expect to hear it from some of the stars who can use their fame to make this a national conversation.

And we should support them when they do.

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