Seldom do we get the opportunity to interview couples, so when we got to sit down with Chloe Melas and Brian Mazza as a duo to talk all things parenting, we were admittedly pretty excited.
Between the two of these thirty-somethings, they have careers and projects that include impressive titles like CNN reporter, restaurateur, entrepreneur, triathlete, fitness expert, and, of course, the parents of two sons (under the age of 3), Leo and Luke.
Getting to the place they are today didn’t come without its own hurdles, and Chloe and Brian are refreshingly open and unfiltered about their unexpected, challenging journey into the world of parenting.
We all hear the stories about someone’s friend who basically sneezed and poof! she was pregnant…and we all know, that story rings FAR from true for many moms around the world. The weaving path to baby can be long and hard, and can include so many low moments that no one seems to be talking about. Miscarriages, failed IVF, postponed adoptions. These are often situations that couples are struggling with in private, questioning ‘is this normal’. Chloe and Brian are proving that this is normal and there is hope for anyone else going through a similar experience.
For Brian and Chloe, their path to pregnancy was filled with complexities and hurdles that neither could have anticipated. Failed attempts to naturally get pregnant, multiple rounds of IVF, fears of ectopic pregnancies, so. many. needles., uncharted vulnerability and the lowest of emotional lows.
During their fertility journey, Brian, a fitness fanatic who prides himself on an exceptionally healthy lifestyle, felt particularly drawn to opening up to his followers on his own grapplings over a sense of failure and in doing so, freed hundreds from their own private burden.
“I felt like I needed to use my platform to just be open with everybody, because I knew other guys were going through this. Once I did that, the amount of messages I was receiving from guys saying, ‘Oh my god I’m going through this,’ was staggering. Their wives were also reaching out to me saying ‘My husband’s having a tough time with this. He doesn’t feel like a man.’ I’ve been very open. And I think it helps.”
Brian continued, “I think being able to relate to those messages is important. Just to tell people that I go through this struggle helps them know that it happens.”
Chloe opted to turn to her closest friends to share her fears around suddenly facing the prospect of a life she never expected – one without kids. “I just felt like the more I talked about it in my inner circle of friends, the more I realized that so many people were having issues. Whether it was miscarriages, surrogacy, adoption, fertility issues—I was having problems with low ovarian egg reserves and Brian was struggling with a low sperm count.”
They weren’t alone. Sharing their story both publicly and with close family and friends made them realize they were far from it – and also comforted thousands of other families who were confronted with the same new normals in their own relationships.
“At almost every doctor’s appointment there was no good news, at least in our case. It was like you go and you find out almost every day that you have less and less eggs growing. Both times they told me that they were going to cancel the IVF cycle and then they just decided not to. But they said that it was most likely that we weren’t going to get enough eggs and we weren’t going to get any to fertilize,” says Chloe.
At one point, doctors cautioned that the pregnancy was most likely going to be an Ectopic pregnancy, which results when a fertilized egg attaches itself outside of the uterus. The emotional and physical toll of it all weighed heavily on Chloe and she was quick to find herself a therapist who specializes in fertility struggles to help manage through the emotional rollercoaster without losing her sense of self.
“It was a really dark time going through IVF, having to go to the doctor every day, getting my blood drawn. I hate needles, I hate needles. I hate getting my blood drawn. I have to cover my face and look away and hold my breath. It’s really horrible. So to have to get my blood drawn every day with only one arm that seems to take— every day it just feels like more and more bad news comes from the doctors. And then the surgeries. It’s just so overwhelming and all you want is just that baby. And it just seems so far away. And all you’re seeing on Instagram and Facebook and social media are the baby showers, the birthdays, the birth announcements. And it’s such a low, isolating experience.”
After going through their first pregnancy, and again starting a rocky journey to baby number two, Chloe felt it was important to be more transparent with the general public, sharing their journey on her own social platform.
“It was scary to do but I’m really glad I did it. It was actually also, for me, it was a personal thing. I wanted to help other people but it was also about closing a chapter for me. I wanted to go full circle, and for me, closing that circle was to share how it started.”
While Chloe and Brian knew what to prepare for during their second journey into IVF, it still proved to be equally challenging and came with a new set of new complications to wade through.
“I was two years older, my egg count was even lower, they almost canceled my IVF just like the first time. Only two eggs were fertilized. That’s not very good. And then only one was good, which turned out to be my son, Luke. It only takes one. Try not to lose hope. It can all seem so hopeless and you feel so helpless. There’s nothing you can do except show up to the appointments, take the medicine, get your blood drawn. After that it’s totally out of your hands.”
For couples struggling, Chloe says the advice she gives most frequently is, if possible, go to IVF sooner rather than later. “It’s tough but without it, we wouldn’t have our two children. So I wouldn’t look at IVF as the enemy because IVF was what gave us our family.”
“I think for guys in general, they should get checked to make sure that everything is working properly,” says Brian. “I wish I knew sooner because it would have made things a lot easier for everybody.”
Their New Normal
These days, Brian and Chloe have a new set of normals they’re up against: a household with two children under the age of three, a new company in the works and Chloe’s full force return to work from maternity leave.
Brian’s latest project, High Performance Lifestyle Training (HPLT), is all about being as efficient as possible with the daily question of what are you doing every single day to make sure that you can handle situations at work or in your personal life?
Brian, who relies on fitness to keep himself grounded, shares that this philosophy has even influenced his parenting style.
“Especially with the babies and the lack of sleep and questioning are you eating right, are you exercising, etc. Those all go hand in hand with being able to handle stressful situations.”
“I was getting up around 3:45, 4:00 in the morning [to work out] for a while and that was all good, but then the new baby came into play and I needed to get more sleep.” Brian says you simply evolve your approach, not abandon your goals, ”If you’re doing everything you’re supposed to be doing, situations like this are not as difficult to take on.”
Chloe jumps in. “(Life is) crazy. Just double the dirty clothes, triple the runny noses. I’m sick, Leo’s sick, the baby’s sick right now. We all have a cold. Brian, of course, gets 1% of what we all get, luckily. And it’s just constant screaming, crying. Nothing’s ever quiet in the house. And as soon as somebody’s quiet, the cat throws up or the dog poops on the carpet. It’s just like oh. my. gosh. We love it. I wanted a house with kids and animals and craziness.”
Such great imagery…aaaand we are pretty sure the same thing is happening at our house while we write this.
Sitting down with Chloe and Brian was such a treat – they’re a duo who’s managed through a hefty dose of personal turmoil to come out the other side with perspective, candor and, if we may say so ourselves, a sunny glow that embodies positivity, a sense of humor and quiet strength. They’re such fun people to be around.
Their candidness about their IVF experience reflects what so many moms and dads are going through and, we hope, like Chloe and Brian do, that with every story like this that gets shared, someone feels a little less alone and a little more hopeful.