As we reach the middle of the National Infertility Awareness Week 2021, it is incredibly surprising how even in this day and age you come across stories of women being made to feel guilty for making certain choices pertaining to their own health and family building.
One would think big Hollywood stars and celebrities don't have to worry about such judgment but the reality is that, getting help for infertility and exploring alternative options to bring a child into this world are still conversations struggling to become mainstream. This is why it is so important to share these stories and talk about why infertility is an extremely pressing issue that needs to be dealt with via alternative solutions like, ART and third party reproduction options.
Popular American TV and Film actress Jordana Brewster recently opened about the guilt and shame she felt throughout her surrogacy journey to conceive both her boys, Julian, 7, and Rowan, 4.
After failing several rounds of IVF together with former husband, Andrew Form, the superstar of The Fast and The Furious franchise finally resorted to gestational surrogacy to conceive.
She recalls being advised by a friend to take maternity leave back in 2013 when her first son, Julian was due. However, she thought that since she wasn't carrying her baby so she did not need to go on maternity leave.
“I was punishing myself for something I couldn’t help.”
Talking to a media publication, the actress of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre fame explained how she always felt that as women we are made to feel that conception is something that comes naturally to everyone.
"I thought [conceiving] would be no problem for me, which I think a lot of women do. I feel like we sort of assume, 'Oh, okay, I'm on the track, I've been married and now I want to have a kid, and it shouldn't be a big problem.' And then all of a sudden you realize, 'Wait, this is going to be a little more challenging than I thought.' "
Teaming up with Clearblue for their #conceivinghood campaign, the actress hopes to play her part in destigmatizing infertility and encouraging more conversations around it, just in time for the #NIAW2021.
It is after all high time we make this subject mainstream since about 10 percent of women (6.1 million) in the United States alone, (ages 15-44) have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
That's a staggering statistic for a problem still kept under wraps for the most part.
Brewster went on to say that she joined a mommy support group and now looking back she think she would always over-explain her story and felt the need to defend her family-building choices when nobody really asked for a justification, yet she still felt the need to stand up for herself.
You cannot blame her for experiencing all these emotions, as many times women who use a gestation carrier, and especially celebrities, are made to feel like they're always doing it out of choice, just because they do not want to go through the physical burden of carrying a pregnancy themselves.
Which again should be an extremely personal choice, whether you are choosing surrogacy because of infertility issues or because you feel your body is not prepared to carry a pregnancy, the fact of the matter is that it's your body and you alone get to decide how you want to build a family.
"I think (other moms) assumed that I didn't want to carry, or I didn't want to go through that experience. I think there's just an inherent judgment with surrogacy,"
This is why the actress is so excited about partnering with Clearblue for their #Conceivinghood campaign, a term aimed to give meaning to the complex struggle some families and individuals have to go through while trying to get pregnant.
“When I started trying to get pregnant about a decade ago, women didn’t really talk about fertility — there wasn’t as much community around it. My friends were getting pregnant really easily and I expected the same thing to happen to me, but it didn’t and I felt like something was wrong with me,” Brewster said. “That’s why I love the (Clearblue) initiative. It’s comforting when you see other people are going through it too.”
Another challenge for the 40-year old mommy of 2 has been co-parenting with ex-husband and famous TV producer, Andrew Form. Though she feels that co-parenting as a team feels rather easier now as they are much better able to communicate than they would as husband and wife.
"When (Andrew) has the kids, they're relishing their time with him and there's been really good quality time together," Brewster says. "We communicate better as co-parents than we did as husband and wife...We were married for 13 years and we were both on the same page, so there's no acrimony, which I think really helps."