IVF is long, hard and frustrating. Sutton Foster speaks her infertility truth

Sutton Foster
Sutton Foster is mom to a 2-year-old. First, though, she had to make a journey similar to her character’s in the Hollywood Bowl’s “Into the Woods.”
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Sutton Foster has a deep connection to the character she will be portraying in performances of “Into the Woods” July 26-28 at the Hollywood Bowl.

The Broadway favorite and star of the TV Land series “Younger” is performing at the Bowl as the Baker’s Wife, who is unable to have a child.

“I can relate directly to the Baker and the Baker’s Wife,” Foster said Wednesday during a broad-ranging Times interview to be published next week. “My husband and I, when we got married, we went through lots of trials and tribulations to find our daughter. … We had tons of infertility struggles.”

The Baker and Baker’s Wife in Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s musical live in a “once upon a time” kingdom amid such fairy tale characters as Cinderella and Rapunzel. Their neighbor, a witch, has cast a spell preventing pregnancy. To undo it, the witch assigns a seemingly absurd list of tasks — a situation similar to what many couples face with hormone shots and attempts at in vitro fertilization.

“It changes a marriage, it changes a relationship,” Foster said, “when you have these wishes and dreams, and they aren’t fulfilled, and you don’t know what to do, and you blame one another.”


It’s difficult to describe what it feels like to sit in a waiting room surrounded by other people unable to conceive.

Foster and Ted Griffin, her screenwriter-director husband of nearly five years, adopted a daughter, Emily, who is 2. “She’s, like, inherently sweet,” Foster said. “She loves books. She loves to swim. She loves music. … She’s very available and open and unafraid.”

Foster, who holds lead actress Tony Awards for the musicals “Thoroughly Modern Millie” (2002) and “Anything Goes” (2011), was in total mom mode as she breezed into a deli for a chat near home, having just left Emily with the nanny. She wore a splotched, much-washed, white cotton top and no makeup — and seemed smilingly content with the whole circus of being a parent.

But getting to this point was rough.

“What ends up happening as you embark on the journey of trying to get pregnant is: So much of it falls on the woman’s shoulders,” Foster said, “and it’s so hard. We did three rounds of IVF. I’m putting hormones in my body. I’m growing eggs. It’s crazy.”

After the second round, “I knew that it wasn’t working, and I was so frustrated. … I said, ‘We have to start pursuing adoption, so that we put out all the troops at the same time. Because I can’t just keep doing this; it’s too much to have the weight of all of this on my shoulders.’

“And the fire lit on the adoption.… And it became a different journey for us, and very positive, and it was very clear that Emily was supposed to be our daughter.

“With Emily, I say, ‘I didn’t grow her in my belly, but I grew her in my heart.’ We found each other.”

In “Private Life,” writer-director Tamara Jenkins’ long-gestating third feature, a couple (Kathryn Hahn as Rachel and Paul Giamatti as Richard) sees its marriage tested by the trial of assisted reproduction.