Elizabeth Banks always knew she wanted to be a mum. Then she found out she had a 'broken belly'.

On the first day of college, Elizabeth Banks found her "soulmate". 

Banks and Max Handelman hit it off from the start and almost a decade later they married, keen to get started on creating a family for themselves. But the journey to having kids was a challenging road.

"I did always want to have kids - especially when I knew I was marrying my husband I wanted to plan my family and for us to have a family together," Banks explained this week on the Call Her Daddy podcast.

Soon into the process of trying to get pregnant, Banks knew something wasn't quite right

When she was young, she had always figured she had never fallen accidentally pregnant because she was "really good at taking the pill [birth control]". But into her 30s, she discovered there was more at play.

A few tests later, and it was confirmed that she was infertile.

"I have never been pregnant, and I've never had a miscarriage. There's a small percentage of women who have unexplained infertility and that is me, I am in that category. Always had plenty of eggs, had no trouble making embryos but they did not implant. For whatever reason, my uterus is hostile."

Watch: meet the baby born from a 27-year-old embryo. Story continues below.

Video via NBC News.

Banks and Handelman decided to give IVF a try, but after "seven procedures" that were not successful, they were left feeling "despondent".

"Your fertility is such a part of your life, men and women. But for women especially in a society that's like, this is why we value you, we don't value you because you could be a CEO, we value you because you can procreate and keep the race going. So if you can't do that, you are less of a woman. That's the messaging," she explained.

"And my fertility was something I had to mourn. I had to grieve for it. It was a loss."

Banks' only option was surrogacy. And back when she chose to go down that route, "surrogacy was not yet a Kardashian thing" and "nobody was doing it back then".

Initially, she had her doubts and concerns about surrogacy. But with the support and encouragement of her husband, they decided to go ahead.

Banks said through a doctor she found a surrogate who was willing. The surrogate's own mother had been a surrogate before, and this woman had three kids of her own with her husband, and wanted to help others struggling to make a family of their own.

"Great advice I got was is your goal to be pregnant or become a mum? And for me, it was just to be a mum. I just want the baby."


As she said to Entertainment Weekly, "I really related to the idea that pregnancy is not the be-all, end-all: At the end of the day it's really about those mini human beings."

Banks and Handelman went on to have two sons via surrogate - Felix, 11, and Magnus, 10.

She said that parenting has been just as much of a whirlwind as the baby-making period. And reflecting on her and Handelman's 30-year relationship, Banks said "it's the thing I'm most proud of".


She said to PORTER: "I do think people grow together or they grow apart. We definitely grew together. We were constantly making decisions that kept us close."

Now that her two sons are a bit older, Banks said they have asked questions about their birth and the story behind it. 

"I had a broken belly is what I told my kids - 'Mummy had a broken belly'," she said on Call Her Daddy. "It's my son's tenth birthday today and I'm going to send the surrogate a picture of him, because she helped make our family with us."

Now today, Banks said she is grateful to keep the conversation going around infertility - because not so long ago, she felt as though she was struggling in silence.

"Women's reproductive issues were things you would whisper about in small circles. Now, there's #ShoutYourAbortion and IVF Facebook groups," she recently said to PORTER. "I definitely think I'm still judged for what I've done and that people don't understand my choices, but I don't feel I owe anybody any explanation. And, if my story helps people feel less alone on their journey, then I'm grateful for that."

Feature Image: Getty.

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