Food Network star Katie Lee is speaking out about her struggle with infertility.
“I get multiple messages a day asking me if I’m pregnant or why I am not pregnant yet,” Lee, 37, wrote on Instagram Wednesday.
“I get comments saying I look like I’ve gained weight, so I must be pregnant. After one said that I looked ‘thick in the waist’ I finally responded that it’s not ok to comment on a woman’s body and you never know what someone is going through.”
Lee explained while she knows her followers mean well when they ask about whether or not she has plans to expand her family, “it can be hurtful.”
“When Ryan and I got married, our plan was to start a family right away. I couldn’t wait to get pregnant!” Lee said of her husband Ryan Biegel.
“I naively thought it would be easy. I’m a healthy woman, I eat a balanced diet, exercise, I don’t smoke. Ryan is the same.”
Lee quickly learned “reproductive health is an entirely different ballgame.”
“We were trying, I had to have surgery to correct a problem, got an infection, then I was so run down I got shingles.”
Lee explained that’s when she and Biegel began In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) — a technique where a woman’s eggs and a man’s sperm are combined in a lab in order to create an embryo. It not only helps with embryo development but also implantation.
“We just finished the intense process only to get zero healthy embryos,” Lee wrote.
“Not only is iVF physically exhausting, the emotional toll is unparalleled. We were filled with hope and excitement only to be crushed.”
“It is really hard to put on a happy face. Fertility issues are supposed to be private so many of us are silently in pain. I hesitated to share this but I feel comfort when I hear others’ stories and I hope any of you in a similar situation know you are not alone.”
“When people ask me when I’m getting pregnant, it hurts. It’s just a reminder that I’m not. When they say I look like I’ve gained weight, I have. I can’t exercise as much and the hormones have made me bloated,” Lee continued.
Though Lee’s journey to motherhood has been discouraging, The Kitchen host remains hopeful.
“At church on Easter, the priest started his sermon with a story about a family struggling to have a baby and the happiness they are now experiencing that their prayers have been answered. He said it is a time of new beginnings. Tears streamed down my face,” Lee recounted.
“I know a family will happen for us, it is just going to be a different journey than we imagined. We will keep working towards it,” Lee continued before sharing words of encouragement for women who are also struggling to conceive.
“Someday we will have our happy new beginning and I pray any of you experiencing the same will have yours too.”
Her candid post touched a number of her fans and celebrities.
“Love you so much ❤️❤️,” Daphne Oz wrote.
Hilaria Baldwin also commented, “❤️❤️❤️❤️ love to you ❤️❤️❤️❤️.”
TLC star Nate Berkus also shared words of encouragement.
“Love you. Strong, smart women, unafraid to be vulnerable, should be running the world,” Berkus wrote.
Lee and Biegel tied the knot in September in an Italian ceremony attended by family and friends and filled with emotion, PEOPLE confirmed.
It’s the second marriage for Lee, who was previously married to music star Billy Joel from 2004-2010.
Shortly after her wedding to Biegel, Lee expressed excitement about their future together.
“I kinda thought I would never get married again. We did exactly what you’re not supposed to do—we met at work,” Lee told Health magazine.
“He was a producer on the first season of Beach Bites two and a half years ago. I remember going into a production meeting for the first time and thinking, ‘God, that guy is so cute.’ I was a little bit nervous.”
“We both want the same things in life. I love his sense of adventure, and I look forward to all the experiences that are in store for us as a couple and, hopefully, one day as a family.”
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