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RHOC’s Gretchen Rossi Gets Real About IVF and Almost Ending Her Relationship With Slade Smiley (Exclusive)

Slade Smiley and Gretchen Rossi attend the Women’s Power Brunch with Gretchen Rossi at EnVy Lounge on February 24, 2018 in Newport Beach, California. Jerod Harris/Getty Images

Gretchen Rossi is ready to do anything to be a mom. The former Real Housewives of Orange County star opened up about her multiple attempts with IVF and how her fertility struggles affected — and almost ended — her relationship with fiancé Slade Smiley.

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“I had done IVF three years ago and I had shared a little bit of my story about that publicly, but it literally took me three years to get back to a place emotionally and physically and mentally to do IVF again,” Rossi, 39, exclusively tells Us Weekly. “It was a very, very difficult process for me. A lot of harder than I had anticipated. The first time that we did it, we actually had 14 embryos that six hours before we were going to implant them, or one of them in me, we lost all of them.”

“Physically it was difficult on my body. It’s funny because when you get pregnant, and you gain weight, it feels worth it because at the end, you have a baby,” she continues. “But when I went through IVF, I gained 10 pounds within three weeks and I’ve never really done that before in my life. I got cellulite in places that I’ve never had cellulite before and it was just really hard on me because when you go through that with your body and there’s nothing to show for it in the end, it was a lot more draining on me than I had anticipated.”

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Despite the physical and emotional aftermath of her first round with IVF, Rossi is ready to try again. The reality TV personality is currently undergoing treatments at the Southern California Reproductive Center in Beverly Hills.

“So this round, I mean obviously we’re just with one of the best doctors in the world and I’m just feeling so much more confident and excited,” Rossi explains to Us. “I feel like the protocol is just really inlined with my body and with everything that’s going on. I don’t know how to explain it, I just feel different this round.”

She also revealed the pair have been trying to keep the long journey fun over the years: “Literally we would read some crazy articles of this girl would like cut up frog-legs in a blender and drink that every day … We have the Tempur-Pedic bed that goes up and down, and I’m like ‘Ok, bed up, bed up, feet up, feet up!’ and just like some of the funniest things that we were experiencing or attempting to do. It just made it fun.”

Fans will remember Rossi and Smiley, 44, getting engaged during an over-the-top proposal (a helicopter! a heartfelt song!) on season 8 of RHOC. The pair, who have been together for almost 10 years, have yet to tie the knot and still have no plans to do so. “We’re really content. We’re really happy,” Rossi says. “I think that one day we definitely get married, but right now we just really are focused on starting a family so we just don’t really want to put the money and the resources into a wedding because the truth is Slade and I do everything really big.”

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While the duo are in a good place now, there was a time during their fertility struggles where the handbag designer thought about ending their relationship.

“There’s definitely been a lot of days that I’ve struggled with my emotions and I struggled with is ‘Being with Slade the right thing?’” Rossi tells Us. “When you love somebody that much, even if that means letting them go or letting them go down a different path to have what it is that they think will ultimately think will make them happy, that’s what true love is … However, going through that and experiencing those emotions was probably one of best things that could have happened to us because it made us realize that whether or not we have children together or whether or not we did have biological children together, that ultimately us being together meant more.”

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As for a return to reality TV, Rossi — who said she does not watch RHOC on a regular basis — revealed she has no plans to return to Housewives, but does not rule out another guest appearance (Rossi made a cameo on season 12 of the series in 2017).

“It was really fun to reconnect with the fans last year and I’m still friends with some of the girls on the show, so if I make an appearance every now and then, great, but it’s not something that I’m like ‘I’ve got to be back on the show,’” she says. Rossi noted that she’s friendly with Lydia McLaughlin, Vicki Gunvalson, Peggy Sulahian, but do not expect to see her grabbing lunch with former friend Tamra Judge any time soon.

She adds: “Tamra and I definitely not hanging out. She’s a non-issue in my life, thankfully.”

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