When Anne Hathaway announced her second pregnancy on social media earlier this month, the Oscar-winning actor concluded her news with a message of love and support for anyone dealing with fertility struggles. Mom to 3-year-old Jonathan, Hathaway shared a black and white picture of her growing belly and ended her announcement post by writing “For everyone going through infertility and conception hell, please know it was not a straight line to either of my pregnancies. Sending you extra love.”
Hathaway’s message to other women and couples dealing with the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with trying unsuccessfully to conceive was a refreshingly honest and sensitive approach to baby announcements. Now the actor is opening up even more about her fertility struggles in a new in-depth interview in The Daily Mail.
Speaking to the publication, Anne revealed that deciding to include her message of solidarity was easy. “I just remembered how I felt when I was struggling myself,” said Hathaway. “Each time I was trying to get pregnant and it wasn’t going my way, someone else would manage to conceive. I knew intellectually that it didn’t happen just to torment me, but, to be honest, it felt a little bit like it did.”
The Les Miserables and Devil Wears Prada actor echoed what many women in her position have felt, with infertility still a rather taboo subject matter. “What made matters worse was that I was embarrassed to feel like that because there was no conversation to be had about it. This is something people don’t talk about, and I think they should. So, when I was writing that post, I was thinking about that one follower I might reach, the woman who’s in hell about this and can’t figure out why it’s not happening for her. She’s going to see my announcement and, while I understand she will be happy for me, I also know that something about it will make her feel worse. I just wanted to say: ‘Look, this wasn’t as easy for me as it looks.'”
According to PregnancyInfo.ca, which is run by The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada, it takes the average couple up to six months to get pregnant. Studies also show that 1 in 6 couples in Canada experience infertility, yet for Hathaway and many people like her, the lack of conversation around the topic can add feelings of loneliness and isolation to an already devastating situation.
“I sometimes think Instagram makes life look really breezy, but that’s not the whole story,” Anne said. “By leaving out the sad part, we make women who are struggling with this feel isolated and lonely; we make them feel like it’s all their fault. I wanted to be more sensitive than that.”
Hathaway says her husband Adam Shulman was a huge support but having other women to chat with about the shared experience was also an important source of strength. “When I said to them: ‘This has happened to me, it broke my heart, it broke me,’ so many of them said: ‘It happened to me, too,’ and that was the thing that allowed me to come through it, to feel my pain without having anyone rush in to define it or cure it. To be able to understand what was going on beyond blaming myself or blaming my body,” said Hathaway.
Like many women, Hathaway had to deal with the outside pressure of other peoples’ timelines and insensitive comments. “What I hated was when people would say: ‘What’s taking you so long?’ Or they’d try to put a pretty bow on what was happening to me and make it seem not so bad,” she said. “I would just think: ‘OK, you’re allowed to have your feelings about it, thank you very much, but my feelings are my feelings, and I’m fairly devastated right now, so whatever you say, I’m still going to feel that way.'”
Hathaway said that the reaction to her pregnancy announcement post has been positive and that she hopes it helps to remove the ‘silent’ part of the sisterhood of women supporting one another. “Since I wrote that post, a lot of women have reached out to me to say it made them feel seen and heard, and I’m happy about that.”