Maria Menounos Details Her 'Super Costly' and 'Emotionally Taxing' Surrogacy Journey

The TV host — who first began IVF treatments a decade ago — says she and husband Keven Undergaro have two "really good" embryos

Maria Menounos attends Love Leo Rescue's 2nd Annual Cocktails for a Cause at Rolling Greens Los Angeles on November 06, 2019 i
Photo: Presley Ann/Getty

After previously opening up about her surrogacy journey with husband Keven Undergaro, Maria Menounos is sharing an update about their hopes to welcome children this year.

"I definitely didn't think it was going to take this long. It's been years. We've used different services, different people," says the TV host, 43, who first began IVF treatments a decade ago. "It's just been a very frustrating process."

Menounos and Undergaro, 54, first began considering surrogacy back in 2018 and sought advice from pal Kim Kardashian, who welcomed her daughter Chicago in January 2018 and son Psalm in May 2019 with the help of surrogates.

"I was grateful that I had her to share and help me," says Menounos, who says she and Undergaro were devastated when they were told last year their first surrogate was no longer a match medically.

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US TV host Maria Menounos and her husband, TV writer Keven Undergaro (L), arrive for the movie premiere of Sony's 'Bloodshot' at the Regency Village Theater in Westwood, Los Angeles, California, USA, 10 March 2020
Keven Undergaro and Maria Menounos. NINA PROMMER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

"That was a really hard breakup because we had been together on the journey for almost two years. She was just so lovely and so amazing and very patient with us," says Menounos.

"There's something called a mock cycle that my fertility doctor suggested because we only have two really good embryos and we want two kids," she adds. "What would happen is the uterine lining wouldn't grow to that last stage where you could safely implant and know that the embryo would stick. Had we not done [a mock cycle], we would've probably lost our only chances."

The couple have since found another surrogate, and "we are in the throes of all of that," says Menounos. "But I told [my doctors], 'If it doesn't work, I'm done. This is the last straw.' If this doesn't happen, it's definitely not meant to be.' I can't go through this process again."

The former Extra host lost her beloved mom, Litsa, to cancer last year, and the star says it's difficult knowing her mother won't be able to meet her grandchildren.

"Last time, we were a day away from implanting and I was telling my mom, 'It's happening! We're going to implant.' I was so excited and giving her hope to hold on," says Menounos of Litsa, who was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer in August 2016. "That was before we knew that her tumor had grown as much as it did in the COVID period, so that's really sad. It's a super costly procedure and it's a super emotionally taxing experience."

Still, Menounos is trying to remain positive. "Hopefully all will be well and we'll get two little brats that I will tell every day, 'You have no idea what we went through to bring you here! You better do great things in this world,' " she jokes.

Aside from focusing on growing her family, Menounos has found new purpose following her mother's death.

"Grief is so hard. I just became such a soldier for my mom. My whole life became about keeping her alive and making sure she had quality of life," she says. "When she passed, I was like, 'What's my purpose?' I was happy to lose myself to take care of my mom, but it's been cool to be able to rediscover and know that I'm progressing in a new path."

With her daily digital show, Better Together, and a relaunch of her website, Menounos — who will also be offering 10 minute episodes — is hoping to help others through the challenges of life.

"We're excited to keep growing and finding new ways to do things, but for now we'll have our different buckets we serve every day, whether it's lifestyle and beauty or spirituality, health and wellness," she says. "[We'll also have] Cliff notes for the show every day so people can get the best moments of it and be able to really apply it. My goal is to help people transform their lives every single day through the incredible people I have access to, and all at the same time, do it for myself too."

For more on Maria Menounos' surrogacy journey and plans for the future, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

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