Molly Bloom Says Struggles with Infertility 'Brought Me to My Knees' Before Welcoming Daughter

The Molly's Game author opens up to PEOPLE about her difficult fertility journey, which included nine rounds of IVF, before welcoming her daughter Fiona in February

Molly Bloom and baby
Photo: Molly Bloom

From Olympic-class skier to multimillion-dollar underground poker host, Molly Bloom has taken on many roles in her life — and now she's adding one more to the list: Mom.

The Molly's Game author, 44, welcomed her first child, daughter Fiona, on Feb. 8, and is opening up to PEOPLE about her difficult journey to become a mom, detailing her experience with infertility and in vitro fertilization (IVF) and offering advice to other women facing similar challenges.

"There was kind of a big cleanup period because I got sentenced, I was 35 years old," says Bloom, who ran the most exclusive poker game in America before her FBI arrest in 2013. "I was millions of dollars in debt, convicted felon, had some addiction, some things in that realm to iron out, some mental health stuff."

"So I decided to freeze my eggs at 37 and I went to this place that everyone said was great, certainly was expensive and thought I had this insurance policy, I had these 11 frozen eggs," she explains. "And then when I met my husband [Devin Effinger] and we decided to embark on this journey, we fertilized the eggs and none of them worked. It was just an absolute shock. I was 41 at the time."

"What I found is that egg freezing technology has been oversold to a lot of women," she tells PEOPLE. "And we're just now starting to see that because people are trying to use these eggs and it doesn't mean it doesn't work, but there's a lot more that goes into it than just showing up at a fertility clinic and freezing eggs."

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Molly Bloom and baby
Molly Bloom

Despite doctors telling her to start looking at other options, Bloom didn't give up on her fertility journey. She soon found CCRM Fertility where she was able to successfully conceive at the age of 43.

"I did nine rounds of IVF," she shares. "Those years of going through that were just some of the hardest and I've gone down hard roads, but infertility is kind of on a different level. It's an incredibly hard road to go down."

"This process brought me to my knees," Bloom says of her years of infertility. "It's not just, let me maintain a healthy mindset. It's like, let me maintain a healthy mindset while I am injecting my body with these hormones that make it almost impossible to be centered and find peace."

"There were times where I just said, 'Am I ever going to get there? Or am I just going to continue spending money and exhausting resources and putting myself in a dangerous place mentally and emotionally?' " she recalls.

Molly Bloom's baby
Molly Bloom

Asked to share advice she may have for other women going down the same difficult road, Bloom says a mindful meditation practice and "learning the ins and outs of fertility" are key.

"It really is something that if you empower yourself with knowledge, good data, good information, it starts to become less of this dark murky forest you're just in the middle of and it starts to become knowable," she adds.

Now as a mom to 3-month-old daughter Fiona, the former athlete says she's "continually in awe" of motherhood.

"It's just extraordinary," she says. "I mean, it's the one thing that I think isn't oversold in the world, because there's all this hype and everyone told me it's going to change your life. It's going to change everything. And I just didn't see how anything could possibly live up to that and it succeeded it."

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