Gretchen Rossi is determined to expand her family.
The former Real Housewives of Orange County star recently opened up to PEOPLE about her and fiancé Slade Smiley‘s journey toward having children together via in vitro fertilization.
“Many celebrities in Hollywood glamorize the ability to have babies way up into your late 40s and the truth is that some of them are not telling the full story,” says Rossi, 39.
“A lot of women in their 40s are getting pregnant using an egg donor and not disclosing this. This is why we find it important to encourage women who are either career-focused or think they can just get pregnant way into their 40s to consider freezing their eggs while they are younger.”
“Scientifically, it is just a proven fact that our eggs become less viable the older we get and after going through the struggles Slade and I have gone through to get pregnant the last few years, I wish someone had told me at a much younger age to freeze my eggs,” she adds of herself and her beau, who has two children from a previous marriage.
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The couple — who got engaged in 2013 after Rossi popped the question on RHOC — are currently undergoing their second round of IVF. Their goal is to retrieve as many viable eggs as they can before the hopeful mom-to-be’s ovarian reserve runs out.
“We are so grateful to Dr. Surrey at SCRC for making this process less stressful and giving us hope,” Rossi tells PEOPLE. “We are awaiting the outcome of our last IVF cycle to find out if we have any viable embryos in order to implant and hopefully become pregnant.”
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The Gretchen Christine designer told PEOPLE in September 2016 that the road to pregnancy has not been easy for her and Smiley, 44, who underwent a vasectomy reversal in December 2015 for Rossi’s 37th birthday.
“We have been full-steam ahead on trying to start a family. It’s been a good two to two and a half years of really trying actively to have a baby,” she said. “That’s been, quite honestly, very difficult on us because he had a vasectomy and so we couldn’t get pregnant naturally super quick.”
“So we did IVF first and we had such great results at the beginning and then the day before they were supposed to implant all the embryos – we had 14 embryos – basically what happened was they arrested, which means they all died off,” Rossi lamented. “That was very disheartening and a very difficult time for us and it was just emotionally, physically and mentally extremely draining.”