Style influencer Desi Perkins — who's expecting her first child, a son, this fall — talks to PEOPLE about her new eyewear brand and infertility stigmas

By Jen Juneau and Hanna Flanagan
August 03, 2020 03:21 PM
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Desi Perkins
Desi Perkins/Instagram

Desi Perkins is speaking out about the "stigmas" surrounding women and infertility.

In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE surrounding the launch of her brand new independent DEZI eyewear brand, the beauty and style influencer opens up about the hurdles she and husband Steven Perkins had to clear along the road toward their goal of becoming parents. (They're now expecting their first child, a son, in October.)

"A lot of people think it's the woman's fault all the time," says Desi, 33. "A lot of shame gets put on us as women, which is so sad because that's not always the case. The shame shouldn't get put on either person, but I noticed that it's always [made to seem like] the woman's fault if she can't conceive naturally."

According to the National Institutes of Health, "the problem is with the man" one-third of the time and "with the woman" in another one-third of cases. The rest of the time, it's either unexplained or with both partners.

Steven agrees with his wife, telling PEOPLE that "there's no real communication about [in vitro fertilization] or infertility" in the parenting sphere — which may be part of the reason certain stigmas continue to be perpetuated.

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"One of the coolest things from doing the fertility journey that we saw was the response that people gave us," he adds. "And one of the coolest comments that we read were kids that said, 'I'm an IVF baby. I had no idea what my parents went through.' "

"They would say, 'I'm going to go home ... and hug my parents and thank them for what they did for me, because I had no idea that this is what they went through to have me,' " Desi chimes in.

For Steven, it was a "mind-boggling" experience to see "so many people" in the waiting room at their doctor's office, knowing they were all going through the same thing that is talked about seemingly so infrequently. But the experience ultimately brought him and Desi closer as a couple.

"It was a huge bonding experience," the mother-to-be reveals. "Going through my first miscarriage, I felt really alone and detached from [Steven] because I felt like he didn't really understand and couldn't feel what I was feeling and that never really went away."

"But during IVF, he was there for every single doctor's appointment," Desi adds. "I never had to give myself the shot — he always was there to give me the shot, to remember. We would be at eyewear meetings and I'd have to do the shot in the hallways of the lobbies of the hotels we were meeting at, because we couldn't decide whether it'd be inappropriate for us to go into the men's or the women's restroom together to do the shot."

Desi Perkins for DEZI
DEZI

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Desi tells PEOPLE that it was important to her to share her story after she felt that "infertility had gained a power over me that I just didn't want," and that she "needed to release all of the pent up emotions that I had."

"I felt like I was hiding this dirty secret all the time, and I felt more alone than ever going through this journey by myself — not sharing it with a lot of people — and it made me feel guilty about my body," she says. "I shared a little bit about the situation on my platform."

"In that little moment that I shared, I've gained so much support and it slowly gave me my power back and it made me feel more in control because for so long, I felt so out of control that sharing that information was in my control," the beauty guru adds. "I realized how many women are going through the same struggles as me, but nobody's talking about it."

As for whether she and Steven have a moniker picked out for their son on the way, they've "thought about" it but haven't settled on one yet. However, fans might not want to expect something on top 10 lists.

"I don't think I'm going to be too much of a traditional name girl, which will probably freak some people out, but we'll see," Desi teases.