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Elizabeth Banks: Her Tale of Infertility and Surrogacy

a blog by Infertile Naomi, January 16, 2012

I always wonder how actresses privately struggling with infertility can play a pregnant woman in a movie or television show. It seems like the more you have difficulties conceiving, the harder it is to be around pregnant women. I was thinking about this topic when I came across an article about actress Elizabeth Banks and her struggle with infertility.

According to the article in Lucky Magazine, Banks and her husband (Max Handelman), tried unsuccessfully to have a baby saying that “it was a womb issue … her embryos wouldn’t implant.” She later turned to surrogacy to conceive her child and became a mom to baby Felix this past year.

Banks has said: “The one true hurdle I've faced in life is that I have a broken belly. After years of trying to get pregnant, exploring the range of fertility treatments, all unsuccessful, our journey led us to gestational surrogacy: We make a "baby cake" and bake it in another woman's "oven."

As I read the article, I wondered how it felt to be an actress playing a pregnant woman. A topic that many writers wouldn’t even know to ask. We infertile women often feel secretly envious of pregnant friends, baby bumps and other people’s children. For myself, I avoided anything and everything that could be fertilized every time I got a negative pregnancy result. I couldn’t imagine failing an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle and then having to show up at work, forced to play a pregnant woman.

I had seen Banks in many shows, including 30 Rock where she gets pregnant by NBC Vice President, Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin); the movie, Definitely, Maybe, where she plays a divorced mommy, and the soon-to-be released, What to Expect. The movie trailer begins with a very pregnant Banks talking about what its like to be pregnant. She says "I'm calling it. Pregnancy sucks! Making a human being is really hard. I have no control over my body or my emotions.”

I had also seen her in the (hilarious) TV show, Modern Family, where she plays a woman jealous of her friend’s new baby. She refuses to talk or see photos of their new child. She might be drunk during the show, but there was some honesty to it.

So my question is, if you were an actress privately dealing with infertility, would you be able to play a pregnant woman?

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Comments (1)

And it was incredibly difficult for me. I was in a play, playing a woman of limited mental faculties, who was in a home for unwed mothers, who thought she was going to get to keep her baby. I went to some very dark places during the rehearsal process. I wore myself down to the point of being sick for about 5-6 weeks. I still have the occasional nightmare about the experience. About being pregnant, but not pregnant, and not being allowed to even see the child.

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