Idina Menzel is getting real about the difficulties of trying to have a second child through IVF.
The star of stage and screen, 51, shares her story in the upcoming documentary, Idina Menzel: Which Way to the Stage?, streaming Dec. 9 on Disney+. In it, viewers watch as she embarks on a 16-show national tour in 2018, while, simultaneously, going through multiple rounds of in-vitro fertilization.
“There's a fine line between me being vulnerable and exposing too much," she told InStyle about sharing her IVF struggles with the world. "I want women to feel like they're being seen and heard. And for people to understand that experience a lot of us go on, how emotional it is, what it does to our bodies and how it affects us day to day, let alone trying to sing high notes and get on stage.”
In trying to conceive a child with her second husband, Aaron Lohr, Menzel says she went through several rounds of IVF — one of several techniques available to help people with fertility problems, in which eggs are removed from a woman’s ovaries, fertilized with sperm in a lab and then returned as embryos to the womb.
Sadly, all of the rounds were unsuccessful.
“For some reason, I was arrogant. The doctors did say it [was] late, but [I seemed] to have a really good chance,” she said. “They sort of filled my head with all this stuff that I was going to be like one in a hundred women that actually gets pregnant at my age. Because I'm a competitive person [I thought] I'm going to do it.”
Each rejection was another layer of disappointment for the actress, who was 48 when she decided to stop trying altogether.
“At a certain time, you're exhausted emotionally and physically. It becomes apparent that it is just time to let that go and move on,” she said of the experience, admitting she "didn't 100%" want a second child at her age given “how hard that would be for me at this age and knowing a lot of things that I still want to do in my career.”
"When it doesn't happen, you're upset," she added. That's when "you realize how much you want it.”
Menzel, already mom to 13-year-old son Walker with ex-husband Taye Diggs, says being a parent has enriched her life — including the approach she brings to her stage work.
“Before I had Walker, I was more rigid," she said. "My sleep pattern had to be a certain way so I could be in good voice. I wouldn't travel right before a show, because the air pressure on the airplane affects the dryness of your voice. I was harder on myself, more of a perfectionist.
"When I had Walker all that went out the window," she continued. "You say to yourself, ‘My kid had a fever last night. I'm probably going to get his cold and it's going to fuck up in my mind what a perfect show it is.’ Once I was completely liberated by it, I would get on stage and tell myself, ‘OK, let’s see what happens.’ As a result, I ended up having better shows because I took the perfection out of it.”
While reflecting on her experience, Menzel is grateful for women like Jennifer Aniston, who are opening up about their IVF struggles, as it's something she feels needs to be spoken of more.
“Perhaps the fact that this is coming to light from different women — it's just something that needs to be explored," she said. "It’s probably a sign from the universe that we need to discuss it and have this conversation.”
Menzel has always used her platform to speak about the issues faced by women and mothers. In August 2021, she told Yahoo Life that motherhood had made her aware of some of her own flaws.
"The things I need to work on are not being too controlling, listening more, not trying to solve everything," she explained at the time. "Sometimes [Walker] will tell me something … if there's a kid that's bullying him or something, I'll say, "Well, let's think about what that kid might be going through.' And he'll say, 'Mom, can you just be on my side for once?'"
"Sometimes, kids, they don't want to hear the other perspective, you know, they just want you to support them and be there for them," she continued. "And so, in an effort to make this fully rounded human being and teach them that there are all different perspectives to people and humanity, sometimes I forget that our kids just want to be heard."
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