By Lisa Ingrassia
Updated March 29, 2010 12:00 PM

As a TV anchor, Giuliana Rancic knows how to cut to the chase. So during her very first date in 2006 with The Apprentice‘s season 1 winner, Bill Rancic, she didn’t shy away from mentioning the B-word: baby. “We talked about kids, family, our future,” she recalls. “Bill’s dad’s name was Edward, and my dad’s name is Eduardo, and we talked about how we wanted to name our first kid Eddie.” Bill didn’t flinch-but he knew that with his Chicago real estate business and Giuliana’s E! News duties in Los Angeles, marrying and making Eddies would take some logistical coordination. “We got our BlackBerries out and started making plans,” recalls Bill, now 38. Nineteen months later, they were married.

But not everything has followed their schedule. After 14 months of trying to conceive a baby, a journey they share on Giuliana & Bill, their Style Network reality series, Giuliana, 35, has just begun in vitro fertilization treatment. “There’s so much emotion and heartache involved,” she says. “I used to toss around, ‘I’m going to have my career, get married later in life. And if I can’t get pregnant, I’ll do IVF.’ But hearing you [might not] get pregnant is tough.” Adds Bill: “It’s not easy. I don’t like seeing her in pain.”

But some anguish has been unavoidable since the couple began seeing a fertility specialist in early 2009. Her doctor’s first suggestions were for Giuliana to gain 5 to 10 lbs. (in the hope that she would have more regular periods) and, given that they split their time between L.A. and Chicago, to make sure they were in the same city whenever she was ovulating. “I gained 7 lbs., and my doctor said, ‘Sorry, you’re still not pregnant,'” she says. “That was a disappointment. I discovered age has everything to do with it. At 35, it’s night and day from 25.” (During a recent appearance on The View, Whoopi Goldberg criticized her for still being too skinny to get pregnant. “If only it were so easy,” says Giuliana. “I’m thin because I work out. I eat healthy.”)

After a failed attempt at intrauterine insemination (IUI) last November, they decided to begin IVF treatment-a decision Giuliana says was “a tough bullet to bite. When I told my family, they said, ‘No! We got pregnant so easily.’ That’s where the shame came in.” Adds Bill gently: “It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a fact of life.”

The couple say their obstacles have strengthened their marriage. “It showed me a different dimension of her,” says Bill. “She’s nurturing and loving.” As for Giuliana, who says they will consider surrogacy and adoption if they are unsuccessful with IVF, “I think this experience was meant to be,” she says. “Now I will appreciate it more.” It’s also bought them time before deciding whether to raise their family in L.A. or Chicago. Jokes Giuliana: “We’ll let the kid decide!”

Or kids. Knowing that multiples are more likely with IVF treatment, Bill jokes, “The businessman in me would love twins. It’s much more efficient!”