Today's Jill Martin, who recently launched a fashion and accessories line for QVC, chats with PEOPLE about the decision to go public with her struggle
Jill Martin used to dream about marriage and motherhood, wanting the white-picket-fence fantasy. But it hasn’t happened — not yet, at least.
Instead, the former PEOPLE StyleWatch contributing editor and NY Knicks sports broadcaster earned 10 Emmy Awards, a spot on The New York Times best-seller list, a Today contributor gig and, most recently, a QVC fashion-and-accessories line called G.I.L.I. by Jill Martin.
Now the 43-year-old fashion expert is opening up about why she’s determined to have it all — the career and the family — even if it means taking the path less traveled.
On April 23, during the the 3rd Hour of Today after her co-host Dylan Dreyer got candid about her miscarriage and second infertility, Martin revealed for the first time that she started freezing her eggs five years ago,
The following day, she went into some of the details in a candid post for today.com, explaining the egg-freezing process and her decision to share this intimate piece of her life with the world.
“Five years ago at the age of 38, I decided to freeze my eggs,” Martin wrote. “I wasn’t in a relationship of consequence at the time and, to be honest, wasn’t really ready to have a baby. I always dreamed of having at least one child. I grew up in a family with two beautiful parents and an unbelievable brother and that is what I knew. I felt like I should follow that ‘formula,’ but have since come to the realization that my plan is a different one.”
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But Martin tells PEOPLE that getting to that stage of realization, and feeling at peace with the course of how her life has panned out thus far, didn’t happen overnight.
The G.I.L.I by Jill Martin founder was raised in a traditional household and had several friends who followed the “formula.” She says women around her “went to college, got married, had kids, built the white picket fence and lived happily ever after.”
“When I graduated from Michigan, all my housemates got married and had kids within the next few years,” Martin tells PEOPLE. “I guess I was kind of like, ‘What’s wrong with me?’ “
As someone who’s admittedly her own worse critic, Martin says she struggled to accept the fact that the white-picket-fence fantasy was slipping away from her. She couldn’t shake the feeling of disappointment, despite experiencing so much professional success at the time.
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Although most of the pressure she felt was self-induced, Martin says she felt it from the people around her as well. As a single woman who was in her late 30s, Martin now recalls that questions about marriage, kids and being too “busy at work” followed her everywhere she went.
“I think people didn’t realize that it wasn’t that I didn’t want to get married and have a child,” Martin tells PEOPLE. “I wanted to, it’s just that my path wasn’t leading [to that]. That was hard for me to hear, to be honest.”
Over the last few months, the TV personality has tuned out the noise from society. She explains that her perspective has changed, in part because she learned to balance her personal life with her professional one.
“I spent two decades building a career that I believe in and building this business that I still believe in, so I didn’t give my personal life the attention that I gave my professional one,” Martin says. “I don’t have any regrets. I did for a while. I was kind of angry at myself for not being able to live out the plan that I had originally set. The course has just changed a little bit … that’s not my fairy tale. That’s not my version of perfection, and I’m just finding that out now.”
Martin adds that the response from Today viewers and fans has been overwhelmingly positive. She has received countless messages from women who relate to her story and feel inspired by it which, in turn, has helped Martin come to terms with her own journey.
And since opening up, she says she feels “lighter,” she tells PEOPLE: “It was like a giant exhale. I’ve heard so many stories of people saying, ‘Thank you so much. I would never have thought from the way you present yourself that you were going through all of these things.’ “
As for the response from her Today family, Martin says their off-air relationship is just as good as it looks on TV, adding that what viewers see on their screens is totally “authentic.”
“It’s such a close-knit group,” she shares. “I can’t tell you the amount of strength and support I get from colleagues. I work with so many incredible women.”