When Mina Starsiak Hawk didn’t get pregnant with her second child right away, the star didn’t go straight into panic mode.
“I started to get a little confused and frustrated, like it shouldn’t be taking this long,” Starsiak Hawk, 35, tells PEOPLE exclusively for this week’s issue. “This isn’t how it happened the first time.”
She and husband Steve Hawk conceived their first child, now-19-month-old son Jack Richard, almost immediately after they started trying. So after a few months of trying for baby No. 2 with no success, they sought help.
Starsiak Hawk began first-line fertility treatments including clomiphene and letrozole, oral medications meant to stimulate the ovaries to produce more eggs. But after an AMH (Anti-Müllerian hormone) test – which can help assess a woman’s ovarian reserve, or egg count – revealed devastating news, everything changed.
The average AMH range for a 35-year-old woman is from 1.5 to 4 ng/mL, but Starsiak Hawk’s was just 0.25. According to Dr. David Reichman, a fertility specialist at The Ronald O. Perelman and Claudia Cohen Center for Reproductive Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine (who did not treat Starsiak Hawk), “That number is extremely low for a 35-year-old. That would be more of a normal number for someone who is in their mid-40s.”
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The news was a blow to Starsiak Hawk. “It feels like your body is failing you and letting you down,” she says.
Moving ahead with in vitro fertilization, the pair had to first sort through the financial maze before they faced an equally complicated regimen of hormones and medications to be administered at home.
“You have all these meds and packs of needles that have different gauges, lengths and thicknesses,” the HGTV star tells PEOPLE. “I couldn’t even figure out how to open one of the packages. It was terrifying.”
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Her first round of IVF failed and after getting a second opinion, Starsiak Hawk underwent an IUI (intrauterine insemination) – which ultimately worked, much to her surprise.
“It was a long shot, our Hail Mary, but we said, ‘Sure, what the hell?’ ” she recalls.
Now three months pregnant, the second-time mom-to-be is beyond grateful: “We are incredibly lucky.”
Starsiak Hawk shares her full story in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
The reality star also documented her infertility journey in a series of videos at hgtv.com.