But newly single and sitting in her OB-GYN's office, something inspired the then-twentysomething model-turned-real estate agent to take a peek into her future. "I just wanted to know where I was at," she explained to E! News in an exclusive interview. "My doctor had offered to do this blood test and I said, 'You know what? Let's do it.'"
The result was as crushing as her recent breakup.
"It was kind of a punch to my gut," Heather admitted of learning she had a low egg count. "Because I was single at the time. I hadn't met my soulmate. I didn't know if I was ever going to meet my soulmate." While she never lost hope her person was out there somewhere, the news "was definitely something hard to hear when you're in your twenties and you think you have plenty of eggs and nothing to worry about."
At the time, the future Selling Sunset star, now 34, wasn't even buying into the whole white-picket-fence-house-and-two-kids narrative. And yet in the back of her mind she thought that maybe, possibly she might one day be in the market for a bassinet and some teeny tiny designer onesies.
That wasn't the case, though, years later on that Fourth of July afternoon when she stepped onto Tarek's 50-foot luxury yacht and into her forever. "I had already decided no before I had even met Tarek," she said of kids. And as she got to know the dad to daughter Taylor, now 11, and son Brayden, now 6 (with ex-wife and current Flip or Flop costar Christina Haack) she realized he was in the same place. "He didn't want to start over and we were both fine with that," she said.
Though, "Obviously," she continued, "things change."
Particularly when you realize your fledgling romance is way more than a metaphorical starter home and his children are actually pretty fantastic. "Seeing Tarek with his kids really made me want a baby with him—because he is just such an incredible a father to them," she explained. "And, you know, I love watching them grow up in front of my eyes. Kids are just so precious. And they've made me more patient, they've made me want to work harder in life, they've made me more kind. I just love being a stepmom and they've really brought so much joy and fulfillment to my life."
Still, when Heather put six eggs on ice after a 2019 retrieval, she thought of it more as a backup plan, a just in case policy.
But as she got deeper into life as a "rock star" stepmom, everything flipped. Obsessed with Taylor and Brayden and the opportunity to raise them alongside Tarek and his former spouse Christina (now engaged to Joshua Hall), "I started thinking," she explained, "'Gosh, if I have this much love for them, how can I not have my own baby?'"
Particularly when she and the HGTV personality are so firmly in lockstep. "He lets me parent the way that I want to parent," she raved of Tarek, who loves to call his bride a "super mom." Really, they're "just so parallel with everything," she continued, "and we're truly soulmates and best friends. I can't imagine not creating something with him."
And this time she wasn't about to put all of her eggs in one basket.
Starting with their "magical" honeymoon in the Maldives, the newlyweds began trying for a family the old-fashioned way she said, while also making plans for a second egg retrieval that would see them inseminate her eggs to make embryos.
Selecting a January start date ("It was a good month for me to do it before life got super-duper crazy again," she explained), Heather began the demanding rounds of pills, hormone shots and ultrasounds and the rollercoaster of emotions that went with it.
Take the moment she discovered that only two of her egg follicles were growing despite the constant infusion of hormones. "That was a tough day," Heather acknowledged. "Because when you put your body through the shots and the emotions and the hormones and just the process, you hope to get more than that."
She's not too proud to admit she cried. And another morning last week. A tough day driving her to tears during her morning gym workout and leading her to make the unprecedented decision to cancel the rest of her days' agenda "which I never do," she noted, "because I just couldn't take on anything. And I laid in bed and watched movies and just cuddled in bed and I felt a lot better."
But mostly she's strived to remain upbeat through it all and be a source of support for others because "I just feel like women feel alone out there when they're dealing with fertility," she noted. It's a job made easier with her new spouse at her side.
"He's just been such an incredible husband throughout everything," she said of Tarek's determination to make this a positive experience. He was the one to pull her out of her most recent funk in between cuddles and binge watching. "He just sat me down and said, 'Honey, it's not you. This is the hormones. And your body is processing through everything. Just know that this is not you,'" she recalled. "And his words and encouragement and love and just a hug makes everything better for me."
Another pick-me-up has been the constant news from her doctor. After learning that none of her previously frozen eggs were able to grow once inseminated ("I think it's rare, but it can happen," she noted), she received the most positive dispatch yet: Her second go-round had yielded five embryos ready for genetic testing.
"It's exciting!" she raved of the update she got not long before hopping on the phone with E! News. "I'm calling them my little babies—my little El Moussas."
For now, her little ones will remain on reserve, as she and Tarek, uh, go about their business.
"I'm going to follow my ovulation with my doctor and see if we can try the natural way and if it happens within the next few months, we'd be very excited," Heather shared. "And if it doesn't happen, then that's when we'll decide that we want to implant one of the embryos."
Or perhaps two?
"I mean, Tarek's mentioned twins," she revealed. "I'm like, 'I don't know, baby. I don't know if I can carry twins.'" But she's definitely not opposed to a quartet. "At first I'm like, 'I'm only having one,'" Heather said. "But we've thrown around having more than one." Because, truthfully, "I love being a stepmom. He loves being a dad," she continued. "And we would never regret having more. So we'll see how this one goes, but we would be open to having more, absolutely."
Really, it's hard not to let her mind wander too far down the line, what with Tarek reminding Heather just how excited he is to have a baby together.
"Honestly, I just cannot wait to be pregnant. I cannot wait to see Tarek hold our baby," she responded when asked what she's most eagerly anticipating. "Just seeing him with Taylor and Brayden, I know how obsessed we're going to be with our baby."
She's stoked to pick out names and hold a tiny infant in her arms. And though she's not thrilled by the prospect of no sleep, "I've got to be in Taylor and Brayden's life since they were 3 and 8. I've never got to raise a baby," she explained. "So I am just so excited for that experience—to have a newborn and all the things that come with it."