Billie Eilish is an IVF Baby: What is That?

It’s no secret that Billie Eilish is a superstar who rarely keeps secrets. At this point, her obsession for The Office, her susceptibility to sprained ankles, and her reasons for wearing baggy clothing all seem to be common knowledge.

But while Billie might not keep secrets, it doesn’t mean that her parents don’t. On a recent interview with Howard Stern, Billie’s parents revealed that she was a product of IVF live on air. Understandably, she almost passed out from shock. If I was ever going to use the word ‘snafu’, now would be the time.

Fans shared in the amusement on social media over her reaction to the life-changing news. And, of course, a lot of people were confused about what the deal was. It makes sense, because in vitro fertilization isn’t exactly a topic that comes up easily. I wish it actually came up more though, because I owe my life to it (snafu!...yeah, I guess that’s a thing now). Without IVF, my parents likely wouldn’t have been able to conceive, so I’m thankful for it each day. And now, I suppose, Billie is, too.

Conceiving a child often comes with challenges, and many couples have to search for alternative ways to build a family. Adoption, surrogacy (shout out to KKW) and sperm donation are all viable options. But IVF is a little bit different, because it’s the only option where both people in a couple can still be the biological parents of a child. 

Not to get too TMI, but the in vitro process involves a doctor mixing the woman’s eggs with the man’s sperm to help along the fertilization process before entering it back into the woman for (potential) conception. Couples who undergo IVF can’t conceive on their own for a number of reasons: blocked fallopian tubes, decreased sperm motility, uterine fibroids, etc. Sexy, right?

It may not be the most interesting thing to talk about (or the most comfortable), but it’s important to know about it. I didn’t learn that I was an IVF baby until I was in my pre-teens. My parents knew I wouldn’t have understood it sooner, but I hardly even got it then. To be honest, I only fully grasped the process recently when I decided to do some Googling. I knew that I was created by IVF, but when friends asked me what it was, I could never give them a straight answer. 

And I felt like an outsider. “Test tube baby” gets thrown around a lot when someone mentions IVF, and it’s not the most endearing term. Stern even joked that Billie was born in a lab during their interview. This kind of phrasing doesn’t exactly paint the clearest picture of the actual process. I always had to clarify that, no, my parents didn’t go through IVF so that they could concoct their perfect child. Everything about me was a surprise—my gender, eye color, even my existence (IVF doesn’t guarantee pregnancy, so it’s always a gamble at thousands of dollars per cycle). 

I’m a fan of celebrity exposure when it comes to lesser-known health issues. Many people were introduced to Lupus when Selena announced her struggle with it, Legally Blonde fans learned about Multiple Sclerosis when Selma Blair announced her diagnosis and Billie Eilish herself has even been open about her experiences with Tourette’s. Now, hopefully, Eilish will prompt her millions of fans to learn more about IVF and infertility. 

So-called ‘test tube babies’ like Eilish and myself are not just science experiments—we’re so much more than the procedure that helped us come into the world. The fact that I didn’t even know much about the process up until now speaks to the fact that it’s a discussion worth having on a larger scale. 

There’s definitely a stigma around this, and hopefully Eilish’s reaction to it didn’t just break the Internet, but also sparked a desire for a deeper understanding and respect of the people whose life stories include IVF.

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