Gaby Dalkin is a New York Times bestselling author and the founder of What's Gaby Cooking, a platform where she shares her life and food recipes with more than 1 million followers.
Dalkin, 37, said she has developed a "thick skin" through her years of sharing her life on social media, but was motivated by a recent experience with in vitro fertilization to remind people to be gentle with their comments to not only her, but all women.
"So much of the IVF content that's online is people getting their success. And that's amazing to see for so many people, but it's also not everyone's realities," Dalkin shared in a post on Instagram, later adding, "This is just a gentle reminder that the 'bun in the oven' 'you should have another' comments can sting for many."
She continued, in part, "Here's the thing, we never know what anyone is going through, what their plans are or if they even want kids. It's a tough question for a lot of people, so just something to consider before asking."
Dalkin's post quickly went viral, receiving over 45,000 likes and hundreds of comments.
"Could not feel you more. My son is 8 and for 8 years people have been asking if I 'want' more kids. All the cycles of IVF, miscarriages of all kinds, and folks just think it's a question of 'want,'" wrote one commenter.
"We tried for 7 years, before we finally had our beautiful son. He's now 33 and I still get comments [such as] 'I can't believe you only had 1' ... 'every child needs a sibling' ... 'it's selfish to only have 1 child.' We are very grateful to have our only child," wrote another.
Dalkin told "Good Morning America" that in addition to the public comments on her Instagram post, she also received nearly 5,000 direct messages from friends and strangers alike, showing her how much her words resonated with other women.
"It's overwhelming," she said. "The amount of people who are saying, 'Thank you for destigmatizing this and making it feel more normal,' is just wild."
According to a World Health Organization report published in April, nearly 1 in 6 adults worldwide are affected by infertility in their lifetime.
Dalkin said her own infertility journey began nearly six years ago when she and her husband struggled to get pregnant due to what she said doctors told them was unexplained infertility.
After experiencing around six miscarriages, Dalkin said she became pregnant again during the coronavirus pandemic and gave birth to a healthy daughter, whom they named Poppy, in January 2021.
When Dalkin and her husband decided to try IVF late last year, she said they went on an ultimately unsuccessful journey that included a miscarriage, a chemical pregnancy and a failed embryo transfer on their last available embryo.
Through it all, Dalkin said she believes she has been able to maintain a "positive outlook" because of how public she has been about her infertility journey, both online and in-person among her family and friends.
Dalkin noted, however, that her initial reason for sharing her infertility journey on Instagram was simply so she would have a link to send to the many people who messaged her saying that she and her husband should have kids.
"It took me two weeks to write the post that I originally shared, and I was so nervous to press publish on it," Dalkin recalled. "But when I started talking about it publicly, probably five years ago at this point, it was insane to me how many of my friends or friends of friends came out of the woodwork and were like, 'Oh, yeah, we're dealing with this too,' because nobody talks about it.
She continued, "I think one of the reasons I have such a positive outlook on this situation is because I'm so open about it. I've been very vocal about how I feel, and I think that's helpful in me processing my emotions."
Dalkin said that along with encouraging more women to talk about infertility publicly, she also wants to lead a conversation about how best to support women who may be struggling.
"I just want people to have a little empathy for others in their lives that are going through it," Dalkin said. "My friends and my family are just there. They're like, 'If you don't want to talk about it, that's OK, but I'm available if you need anything.'"