You know that scene in the first Sex and the City movie where Charlotte comes home from the doctor to confess the most exciting news to Carrie?
Charlotte’s pregnant, which she had thought wasn’t possible but, “you know how people always say when you stop trying it can happen?” she explains. “And my doctor says that she knows other couples who’ve adopted and then they get pregnant!”
It’s heartwarming AF, the perfect happy ending for the perfect Upper East Side princess and it’s totally a thing that could happen for the roughly 10 percent of women who struggle with infertility. But, also, if Jordana Brewster had a quarter for each time someone told her to “just relax” during her yearslong journey…
“I was told that a lot,” she lamented during a recent chat with E! News. “Like, ‘You know what, the most important thing is for you to relax during this, but also do these five shots a week and be on hormones and go through this rollercoaster, but relax.’ And it was like, ‘Are you kidding me?'”
There were more than a few of those WTF moments en route to welcoming sons Julian, now 7, and Rowan, now 4, with ex-husband Andrew Form. But now that she has two boys running around her Los Angeles home, hiding in the shelves of her closets as she tries to get them off to school, well, a lot of the pain of the sugar-free and dairy-free diet and those visits to the fertility specialists and the naturopath and the acupuncturist have started to fade.
Even reliving the experience, partnering with Clearblue for their National Infertility Awareness Week #Conceivinghood campaign, has felt restorative in a way she couldn’t have begun to imagine a decade ago. Rehashing the journey that led to her using a gestational surrogate, “I didn’t really anticipate how much healing would come from that,” she admitted.
As she listened to her fellow panelists, retired NFL pro Devon Still and his wife and REALationships podcast cohost Asha Still, share their fertility struggles, “I was like, darn it, I really wish that I had heard those stories 10 years ago, because it really would have helped me. Because I felt so isolated when I was trying to have a baby and when I was trying to help my fertility chances and I felt like there was something wrong with me.”
If she could go back and deliver a message to struggling thirtysomething Jordana, the person who felt like she was the only one relying on science to create her family, it’d be some version of the it-gets-better trope. “What they say about childbirth is that you forget all the pain. And I think something similar happened,” explained the actress, who will turn 41 April 26. “I’m too busy and juggling too many things to remember how painful some days were.”
It’s a sentiment actress Camille Guaty concurs, albeit with the slightest of caveats. She’s been wearing the mantle of how becoming a mother is more important than how you become one since she was pregnant with now 18-month-old son Morrison.
Even a year after his October 2020 arrival, she hadn’t fully worked past the particulars of how she got from carefree 37-year-old who never considered she’d have an issue with fertility to finally pregnant at 42 after five failed rounds of IVF and one incredible gift from her egg donor.
There were just a few reminders that, actually, she’d been through it.
For instance, while Guaty had taken pains to scour the Tulip Fertility database to find a donor with her Cuban and Puerto Rican background, brunette hair and the types of features that would balance out husband Sy Rhys Kaye (“Because I wanted to make sure, well, if my husband has more almond-shaped eyes, I want round-shaped eyes. If my husband has a pointy nose, I want a round nose”). But when tiny towheaded Sonny arrived, as far as her careful selection went, “I can barely see this girl in him.”
Cue the well-meaning chatter about how she’d basically birthed her husband’s twin, a situation that boiled over about six months before her toddler began calling Kaye “Mommy.”
“And I went through another big breakdown thinking, ‘Can he tell that the genetics are tied to him and not to me? Is that the reason why he’s calling him Mommy and not me Mommy?’ Which is so not true,” she stressed. “It’s a toddler stage that can happen. But I’m happy that I was able to really hash out my emotions and realize how I’m still tied to some of my pain.”
She recalled how “suitcases of emotion” had accumulated as she listened to a doctor tell her she had “the insides of a 50-year-old” or the New York specialist who swore she would get pregnant with his protocol say that she didn’t have any follicles to work with.
Egg donation was the next step, but “I could not wrap my brain around using another woman’s egg in my body,” she said. “That felt so foreign to me. It felt like using something from some other woman to make me produce a child made me feel, actually, more broken.”
So she grieved. “I went through, basically, all the stages,” she recalled. “First I was angry. I was really upset at myself. I was like, ‘How could I put my career first and wait this long? Why didn’t I decide to do this sooner? How come I didn’t think that this ticking clock actually existed?’ All of the things. And then I went to getting angry with my husband. To then really mourning the loss of this child that I had envisioned for five years never coming to fruition. So I ran the gamut.”
Having processed that, she realized, that, it actually didn’t matter all that much if her, say, great-great granddaughter had her dimples. “I was going to nurture this child and he will be his own person,” she remembered. “And I get to be a part of bringing on his best self. And that to me was really important.”
Realizing they were done with the IVF that felt like the most high-stakes game of poker (“I felt like I was gambling for a baby: ‘Let’s just put all of our money into this next round, because this next round is going to come out great. We’re going to get something from this'”), they tried to find the moments of levity in the egg donor process.
The Prison Break alum remembers wondering if the attractive women in her acting classes, the workout enthusiasts at her Zumba instructor’s birthday party, even the pretty brunette waiting on their table might be the one. “Like, ‘How weird is it if we ask for her eggs? Do you think she would go for it?'”
Ultimately, their journey contained more twists than the TV shows she’s appeared on (we’re talking learning their first egg donor had messed up her final shot, making her eggs irretrievable, just as Guaty was about to film a Good Doctor scene in which her character meets her newborn baby), the end result was the chance to parent a boy she who literally clings to her.
“Family planning doesn’t always happen the way we expect it to. And we can plan families in so many different ways,” she stressed. “If you would have told me when I was starting this that I would feel how I feel right now about my child, I would have 100 percent just blown you off and been like, ‘No, there’s no way I could feel this connected to my child.’ But I love him so much. Like, I mean, I cannot love anything more. And he is so my child. It doesn’t make any sense as to why I didn’t make this decision sooner.”
For Brewster, being unable to carry her sons brought on a whole host of different insecurities. “I didn’t know anyone else who needed gestational surrogacy,” she said, “and then later on I found out that, like, there were people around me who did, but just didn’t talk about it.”
So as she chatted with other moms in Texas, where she was filming TNT’s Dallas remake, and then in her L.A. moms’ group, she felt like the “weirdo,” certain that everyone else was judging her between talk of sleep training and tummy time.
“Because everyone would be like,” she recalled putting on an affected, high voice, “‘Oh my god! You lost your baby weight so fast!’ And I was like, ‘Oh, I didn’t, I wasn’t able to carry.’ So then I would have to over-explain. I’m not one of those women who’s like, ‘I don’t have to explain to anyone because it’s no one’s business.'”
Eventually she forced herself to shift out of that apologetic mindset. “I realized, you know what, the only thing that matters is that I’ve got these boys,” she explained. “I’m fortunate enough that they’re my babies and I’m doing my absolute best. And that is all that matters.”
Well, that, and leaning into every panel, every interview, every Instagram post, every opportunity she can to remind those struggling future parents that they are not alone. And while she would never suggest they just relaaaaaaaaax, she’d love if she could ease just a smidge of the mental burden.
“However you get there,” she said when asked the advice she’d give to those wading through the emotional choices of IVF, gestational surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation and adoption, “once you get there, it’s so worth the journey and you do forget how painful it was. Thank God.”
It’s a message Guaty finds herself delivering a lot, her DMs often flush with confessions from others who used egg donors but didn’t feel comfortable telling their families. “I carried this stigma for a bit and the more I talked about it, the more I normalized it for myself,” she explained. “So I think talking about it for me helped me come to terms with it.”
Plus, as she put it, “I’m like, ‘Wow, I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and I’m at the top right now looking out and realizing how beautiful this actually is. Why would I want to take that story, my story, our family story away? I want to be proud of how we got here and how far we’ve come and where we are right now.”