I don’t really follow the peregrinations of reality star Kim Kardashian, but the fact that she’s expecting her second child with music mogul Kanye West is only of note to people like me because she announced she’d achieved pregnancy through I.V.F.
Apparently, Kim went through two I.V.F. cycles – one medicated, with hormones, and one natural, without, and conceived on her second try.
On a recent episode of “ Keeping Up With The Kardashians,” Kim declares that “she’s so over I.V.F. treatment” – this being only her second round…and she already has one kid!
As someone who has been through nearly four years of trying to get pregnant, with ten doctors, nine rounds of I.V.F. and four miscarriages, my first reaction was, “Big Whoop.” I thought to myself, “Do you know how many women go through years and years of fertility treatment, with no end – or baby – in sight? Couples who have to mortgage their homes, go into debt and put their lives on hold to be able to afford treatment just to have one kid?” And so it was hard to have sympathy for this gorgeous gazillionaire – okay, she’s only worth $85 million – and her “struggles.”
But on second thought, I, out of everyone, should know that you don’t compare pain.
I have a friend who “only” spent a year trying to get pregnant, and on her second round of fertility treatment also got pregnant. But she and her husband remember it as a particularly difficult journey. Then I have friends trying to conceive on their own – going through the ups and downs of treatment without a partner. And friends who won’t have children because they’re still waiting to meet “The One.”
So who’s to say which person suffers more?
More than seven million women in America face fertility challenges. There were almost 175,000 cycles of I.V.F. performed in 2013 (the latest figure available.) Most people are not public about their struggles, or the fact that they’re going through I.V.F.
I can understand why. When I first started trying to get pregnant – and did, unsuccessfully, though – I did not want to tell anyone about my miscarriages. It’s not that I was ashamed, but I didn’t want to be “that person” – you know, the one who had problems. I was hoping to quickly sail past my failures and hold my baby in my arms, with that period being a blip on the road. But when I found myself having to start I.V.F. almost a year later, I realized I was that person. The one with the issues. And it was too hard to keep it to myself – with all the hormones and mood swings and scheduling problems and disappointments.
Even though I’m expecting and thinking forward about the future, when I recall this recent dark period, I realize I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I don’t want anyone to even have one failed round of I.V.F. Even if you have all the money and fame in the world, even if you have a kid, and a body like a luscious hourglass…wanting a child, or another one, and not having one, is pretty painful. (Apparently Kim’s problems stemmed from complications after her first labor, when doctors were doubtful she’d be able to have another child.)
Also, many people think of fertility troubles as something that only happens to older women, women who waited too long to start a family, women who are “selfish.” Truthfully, many women in their twenties and early 30s have trouble too (and because more women are delaying childbirth, we don’t know how many more would have had trouble earlier.) Kim is 34; her daughter North is almost two, which means, despite her flourishing career, she started young.
So it’s great to see someone dispelling the myth that only older women are beset by fertility troubles.
Besides, only good things can come from Kim Kardashian West going public about this. With 32.5 million Twitter followers and an amazing publicity machine, she’s part of a new trend where celebrities go public about something that was once very, very private.
And if it’s on a ridiculous reality show covering a celebrity who’s famous for being a celebrity? At least she’s done some good in the world, suffering publicly for those who can’t.
Is Kim Kardashian's Fertility My Business?