“RHONY”‘s Jessel Taank Says She “Passed Out” in Whole Foods Due to IVF Side Effects
Jessel Taank is opening up about her experience with IVF. The mom of two recently chatted with POPSUGAR about her years-long fertility journey with husband Pavit Randhawa after getting vulnerable about her struggles on “The Real Housewives of New York.”
“At 34, I had started to try, and it was just one of those things where I knew in my gut, after a couple of months, that something wasn’t quite right,” Taank tells POPSUGAR. But the reality-TV star had no clue that it would take her four years, three rounds of IUI, five IVF rounds, and a major health scare before she would eventually give birth to her twins, Kai and Rio. The entire process, Taank says, did a number on her physical and mental health.
“You don’t even know what it felt like to be normal, to feel normal, because the hormones,” Taank says. “You’re so overstimulated.”
“I can only explain and describe the pain as the worst period of your life.”
At one point, she recalls passing out in her local Whole Foods and being rushed to the hospital. “There’s something called ovarian hyperstimulation, where if you are doing multiple rounds of IVF, again and again . . . your ovaries go into overdrive, and they start to expand and swell,” Taank says. That’s exactly what happened to her. “I can only explain and describe the pain as the worst period of your life,” she adds. “I literally passed out because the pain was so bad.”
On top of all this, Taank says, she wasn’t being extremely open with her family about her struggles. Taank is of South Asian descent, and from her point of view, “we are very private, I think, generally, as a culture.” She recalls being taught from a very young age to keep the intimate parts of your life to yourself. “We don’t really share what we’re going through,” she says. “I think it even goes back to early dating when I was in my teens; I never told my parents anything about who I was dating because you’re not supposed to place emphasis on that.”
Taank says she also felt held to certain cultural standards often imposed upon Indian women where they “seem to be these goddess-type figures” that are “just supposed to have a kid” without problems or complications. She admits that things are changing now. But when she was going through her fertility journey, the stigma weighed so heavily on her that she didn’t feel comfortable talking to her own mother about what she was going though. “I didn’t even know how to bring the subject up,” she says. Not to mention, her family lived in London while she was in the United States, and they weren’t very well-versed on the process of IVF. She feared that telling them would create more worry for them and pressure for her.
In hindsight, Taank says she wishes she’d been more open about her experience. “But I have to say that when you’re in it, you’re so in your own head about everything, and you’re worried about the results,” she says. “And I didn’t want people asking me, how things are going, what’s the next step in the process. It just added this immense amount of pressure on an already very stressful process.”
Fortunately, she had a very supportive partner in her husband. “I was super depressed, and I think seeing all your friends go get pregnant so easily, I think that it really like took a toll on me emotionally,” Taank says. But it was Randhawa who pulled her out of those dark moments. “He was such a pillar of strength. When I didn’t want to go out as much and I stopped drinking and I was eating a certain way, he adopted those things with me,” Taank says. “I didn’t feel like I was alone all the time.”
If there’s one piece of advice Taank would give to someone considering IVF, it’s “have someone supportive by their side,” whether it’s a partner, a relative, or a best friend.
While Taank says she wants more children – “my number had always been three,” she tells POPSUGAR – she and her husband are taking their time and enjoying their twins. “The whole process is crazy. It mentally and emotionally scarred me,” she says. “The thought of having to repeat that process again is just kind of daunting.”