Chrissy Teigen Wants to End the Taboo Around Talking About Fertility
Embracing her reputation for being outspoken, the model, TV personality, author, and mom of two is launching a new campaign called Fertility Out Loud to help those struggling feel less isolated and more empowered to take action.
From posting shots of herself in a postpartum diaper to taking down trolls on Twitter, Chrissy Teigen has long been known for giving voice to topics that other people might not fathom touching with a ten-foot pole. But in late September, the model, cookbook author, and mom of two forged into new territory, sharing the details of the heartbreaking stillbirth that she and husband John Legend suffered about halfway through her pregnancy with their third child, a boy they called Jack. On Instagram, Teigen shared intimate black and white photos taken during the devastating experience. "We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before," she wrote. "We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough."
Now, after months of grieving, healing, and therapy, Teigen is continuing the conversation by partnering with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and Ferring Pharmaceuticals on a campaign called Fertility Out Loud, which aims to help the one in eight couples struggling with fertility by encouraging them to speak up and advocate for the help they need.
We recently caught up with Teigen about what initially inspired her to speak up about her experience, how she's processed her grief and anger, and what the campaign means to her as she continues to navigate her own personal fertility journey.
Why Teigen Is Cool With Being the 'Guinea Pig' Who Starts a Taboo Conversation
When Teigen first posted her tragic news, she wasn't thinking about getting a conversation going or throwing the spotlight on a stigmatized topic. "I just shared it like I share anything else," she notes.
And that's something she says "happens a lot" in her life. "I just end up saying something, and I didn't know it was that big of a deal," says Teigen. "But I'm happy to be that guinea pig for everybody—to put it out there and be the one that learns it's a controversial statement."
Teigen knows all too well that there are people living in pain, confusion, or silence privately. "It makes me sad to know that is happening out there with some women and couples," she says. "It's so much more common than you might think."
And while people might sidestep showcasing their struggles and opt to just show the pretty, glossy things on social media, Teigen wants to "highlight the struggle times." "I've always wanted to be that person that showed every side to everything—the sad sides, the dark sides, the traumatic sides, the sides full of grief, and to not pretend that everything was just perfect all the time," she explains.
That doesn't mean that Teigen doesn't acknowledge all of her blessings. "I do have a beautiful life and two beautiful children, a perfect husband," she says. "But there are things that have happened to us that I think a lot of women can relate to."
What Inspired Teigen to Lend Her Voice to Fertility Out Loud
Seeing how people reacted to her experience served to underline just how taboo fertility issues still are. And Teigen felt strongly that bringing people together to discuss these challenges could offer women invaluable support.
"I think women are so hard on themselves and so tough on their bodies and tough on themselves mentally and in every aspect of life," she notes. "But especially with fertility, because it's supposed to be like this God-given birthright that you are able to carry and conceive a child. And when it doesn't happen the way you plan or as easily as it seems to happen for other people, you feel like a failure."
That's why Fertility Out Loud provides resources and opportunities to connect with others in an online community on its website.
Through the campaign, Teigen herself has connected with women who've had similar experiences. "You cry with one another and open up to one another about something that's so personal and so unglamorous," she notes. "But the more we talked about it, the more [we can] normalize the conversation. And if I can get people to say IVF without whispering it or to not be grossed out by the term 'embryo transfer,' I've done my job."
How Teigen Has Faced Her Grief
In addition to connecting with other women who share her experience, Teigen has spoken out recently about healing through therapy. Although she admitted in a September 2020 interview that she used to avoid it, finding the right therapist has been a game-changer for the mom of two.
"A lot of my hesitations with therapy revolved around the fact that my problems just felt so silly in the grand scheme of world issues," says Teigen. "What I've learned now is my problems are still my problems. They're still important, and they still affect me. And there's grief that I've held onto, and there's anger that everyone holds onto."
Although she says therapy might require a bit of trial and error, she encourages people to "be willing to take the risk" and "find their match." "There are different kinds of therapy for different people," says Teigen. "And if one thing didn't work for you, I promise there's something that will—and it can be life-changing."
Why We Need to Keep the Conversation Going
Therapy is just one way Teigen continues to cope as she navigates her own fertility journey. "I still wonder if I can conceive or should I do IVF again?" says the mom of two. "Should I just use the embryos that I have? There are a lot of questions going on in my mind." And that's another reason why the Fertility Out Loud campaign feels so personal to Teigen.
Ultimately, tackling the stigma around fertility is going to take some time, but it'll always be worth it to Teigen. As she points out, "Women are always going to be going through this battle, and we have to be there for them."