Last fall, Chrissy Teigen shared some devastating news with the world: the loss of her son, Jack, when she was 20 weeks pregnant. Since that day, Teigen and her family have begun to pick up the pieces that Jack left behind — and now, she wants to help others too.
The model, author, TV host, and entrepreneur recently partnered with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and Ferring Pharmaceuticals to launch Fertility Out Loud, a new campaign designed to help anyone struggling to start or grow their family — a cause that's near and dear to Teigen's heart. Even before the loss of her pregnancy, she had spoken publicly about her own experiences with fertility and IVF, even joking about the process on Twitter.
"I've been open about so much throughout my life, and so [infertility] didn't seem like a crazy thing to talk about. But the more I spoke about it, the more I realized how taboo it was," Teigen tells Refinery29 over the phone. "But quietly, I was getting DMs and letters — like handwritten letters — and emails. I realized that people didn't think they could talk about it on an open forum, but they were happy to do it privately. I realized people don't feel comfortable talking about this."
But not being open about, for example, what IVF feels like can make people going through feel alienated, and can leave them uninformed. Teigen herself regrets scheduling a fertility treatment to coincide with a Sports Illustrated cover shoot back in 2016, a decision that came in part from not understanding the process. "I genuinely thought that I would tell them when my period would be and we would go harvest eggs and just scrape them from my body and that would be it," she says. "But the process of leading up to it, getting your body ready for it, it can be brutal. There are a lot of shoots I look back on now and I'm like, Oh man, I was extremely bloated for that. Or, you know, you're bruised from all the shots that you're doing. I naively thought that harvesting was like, you just take a rake and you go in and you'd take them off. Nope. It wasn't that at all."
Teigen believes in sharing about the good parts of her fertility journey, too, like the embryo transfer of her first child, Luna. "I remember John couldn't be there and I remember having him on FaceTime," she says. "I remember having an acupuncturist come in because our first embryo hadn't taken and I had really regretted that I hadn't done acupuncture for some reason. When they inserted her little egg, it just shot across like a little shooting star," Teigen continues. "Seeing it, and then praying that it would stick and stay, and sure enough, she did. And now she's about to be five years old."
And while Teigen has always had her share of detractors who's criticised her openness, more often, her honesty is met with gratitude and compassion. That was the case when she spoken generously and openly about her experience with pregnancy loss. After losing her son Jack, Teigen posted on social media and wrote on Medium about the immense grief she and her husband, John Legend, felt. The response to her candor was overwhelmingly positive, especially from people who had gone through or were going through something similar.
Teigen and her family are continuing to work to keep Jack's spirit alive. "In the Thai culture, you're very open about death and speaking about death and loss and when someone passes, they're still very much a part of your life," Teigen says. "I’ve kind of been bouncing back and forth between that Thai tradition of keeping your loved one close but also wanting to release him and wanting him to be a part of the Earth again — just spiritually wanting him to be a part of the universe again."
The mom of two and her husband have been toying with the idea of if — and where — to release Jack's ashes, but until then, they're going to continue to honor him in other ways, including music. "[John] has a song that, when it comes out, it's just going to be... I think everyone will know which song I'm talking about when it does come out because it's so beautiful. I'm so excited for the music to come out," Teigen says. "It's especially an emotional thing for me, because it takes me right back to that exact moment." She compares it to Legend's Wild music video, which was released in August 2020 to announce their pregnancy with Jack. "It's hard to watch now because we filmed that in a time when we were so hopeful," she says. "Music for us is so healing, and I think it's going to be a really beautiful summer and year coming up, with being able to release grief and loss. It’s going to be really transformative and amazing."
Teigen has also grappled with the fact that she's been told she shouldn't try to get pregnant again. "It's still hard for me," she says. "I'm in therapy and something that I talk about often is, I just don't understand how I can't [carry children] because I have a really healthy uterus now," Teigen says, noting that she was treated for endometriosis. "I think one lingering thing is that Jack was so healthy, and it was just something with my body that was not right at that time. In my mind, I'm like, I need to try again, though. I want to try again. I believe my body's in a better place than it was. And it's hard to be told that you shouldn't when you genuinely believe that you could. It's hard to come to terms with and something that I talk about, honestly, twice a week still."
Teigen is eager to continue to grow her family, whatever that looks like. "My mind is open to any way there is about having that child. I'm honestly not sure if I would ever stop having children," she says. "They just bring light and life to our household and to the world. I love being a mom and I can't imagine ever saying, 'Well, I'm done, I'm good on kids.' John will probably have to be the one to pipe up and say that [laughs]. But my IVF journey has not ended at all."
Teigen tells Refinery29 that she and Legend still have a couple of frozen embryos that are, "ready to go in — if it's not me, somebody." She's even ready to harvest more eggs, despite calling the process "a bitch." She remembers how she felt when she saw "that little shooting star" that was to become her daughter, how beautiful that was, and says again, "It's not the end of my journey at all."
As she thinks about continuing to grow her family, Teigen reflects once more on the importance of community and having those around you who understand you — and who love you. "Honestly, to this day, I still am not exactly positive what it is between John and I that just doesn't mesh well enough to make a baby naturally," she says. "We're happy that we've been able to find so many incredible people and doctors that have talked us through the process that resulted in two incredible little babies... I just wish there was a place where more conversation was created." For now, she's happy to be the one to have started the conversation.
"There's no one way to [become a parent] and there's no straight road at all," Teigen says. "I've seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows with it. I encourage anyone to be open and honest as they’d like to be. And they’ll get the same from me."