Amber Smith’s Crazy Journey with IVF

How tragedy, heartbreak, hope, and faith led the Smiths to their fourth child

Amber Smith, actress and wife of country music star Granger Smith, recently announced her pregnancy with her fourth child! Both Granger and Amber posted to Instagram in March to reveal that they are expecting a baby boy in August 2021, with the help of In Vitro Fertilization, or IVF.

In a special episode of The Smiths, the Smith family’s YouTube series, Amber documented her entire year-long journey with IVF. Every vulnerable moment, from tears of happiness to tears of devastation, is included in this documentary. She says that her goal is to inspire and educate others who are trying or considering trying IVF treatment.

“We share with the intent of spreading light and hope in an often dark and confusing world,” she said in an Instagram post. “I don’t know much but I know this life is hard and God is good. No matter what. I know you can do hard things. And I know that hope does not disappoint.”

The three Smith children, smiling for the camera outside of a restaurant or store
The Smiths lost their son, River Kelly (center), in 2019. Feelings of grief, and at times guilt, were a struggle when the Smiths considered trying for a fourth child. Image courtesy of Taste of Country

Love, loss, and new life

The Smiths’ decision to try for another baby was not an easy one. In June 2019, the Smiths’ third child, River Kelly, tragically passed away in a drowning accident. He was just three years old. 

The loss shook the entire Smith family, and left River’s parents reconsidering their plans. Though they had always planned to have four children — “three plus one,” as they’d say — they now struggled with the idea. Grief caused them to feel guilt at the idea of having another child after the passing of their son.

“I’m struggling with a lot of emotions, just getting over it feeling almost like a betrayal to River, but I know that that’s crazy to think about because no baby would ever replace River, ever,” Amber says in the documentary. “River was River and he was — is — such a light and a love and he will always be our family.”

The Smiths were determined to make the best decision not only for themselves, but also for their two other children, London and Lincoln. They also knew that they did not have all the time in the world to make this decision — Amber had already had her tubes tied, and would need either a tubal ligation reversal or IVF, and she was turning 38 in November 2019. In the end, the couple decided to go forward with IVF

Faith played a huge role in this decision, and in the entire process. Throughout the Smiths’ documentary, they each say many times that no matter what, the outcome would be a form of closure and reassurance of God’s plan for them.

Amber Smith, left, and Granger Smith, right, at the American Country Music Award red carpet
Amber and Granger Smith have been together since she starred in the music video for his 2009 song “Don’t Listen to the Radio.” They married in 2010. Image courtesy of Entertainment Tonight.

Starting the process

Amber began her journey with IVF in January of 2020. Leading up to her egg retrieval day, she had to attend appointments for sonograms and ultrasounds, get bloodwork done, and administer shots to herself multiple times a day for 10 days. The medicine stimulated her ovaries and eggs to grow and mature, allowing the fertility clinic to retrieve between eight and twelve eggs.

On March 3, 2020, Amber had the “first of the big days,” her egg retrieval day. Once her eggs had been retrieved, they were fertilized and sent off to a lab for genetic testing. Excitement soon turned to confusion and sadness, as later that same month, Amber received a call from the fertility center. A fertility counselor told her that all cycles needed to be halted due to COVID-19.

Amber considered herself fortunate that she had already done her egg retrieval procedure and sent off embryos to the lab. There, the embryos that were selected as viable could be frozen until the fertility clinic resumed business. She felt for the women who had undergone weeks of preparation just to cancel their egg retrieval or implantation, and the fertility counselors who had to bring that bad news to families.

For months, the Smiths had no idea when they might be able to continue with IVF. All they could do was wait.

Amber Smith, crying, eyes closed, in her car in a black T-shirt
In her documentary about her pregnancy journey, Amber doesn’t hide the toughest moments from the camera. Here, she tearfully reveals that her first IVF implantation has not been successful and that she will have a miscarriage. Image taken from YouTube.

Hope and heartbreak

Three long months later, on June 3, 2020, the Smiths were finally able to schedule the date for their implantation. Their first appointment back was the day before the first anniversary of River Kelly’s death, and the first day of Amber’s pre-implantation shots coincided with the day the Smiths left the hospital without their son one year prior. These anniversaries made restarting their IVF journey even more emotional for the couple. 

On July 8th, Amber was implanted with the first of two viable embryos. Afterwards, she said she was experiencing all different emotions, from sadness to excitement to guilt to hope. She tried to hold onto that hope and continued leaning on her Christian faith to bring her peace with any outcome. Nine days later, she tested positive for pregnancy through a blood test. 

Just over halfway through the documentary, in August 2020, Amber attended an appointment to check on the growth of her baby. Up until this point, everything had been developing well, so she expected it to be her “graduation day” from IVF and her last sonogram at the fertility clinic. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Her doctors failed to find a heartbeat, taking everyone by surprise. They told her that she would miscarry.

Amber chose to have her miscarriage naturally instead of having a D&C, or dilation and curettage, at the fertility clinic. She lost her baby over the course of three weeks, enduring lots of emotional and physical pain. After she miscarried, Amber made the decision to try one more time with her last embryo. 

Healing and starting over

Before she could implant her last viable embryo, Amber needed to prepare her body properly. She first had a hysteroscopy to determine if there was anything in her uterus that may have caused or contributed to her miscarriage. The doctors found a benign polyp in her uterus as well as an infection caused by old tissue that had stayed in the uterus. She went on two antibiotics to completely clear this infection.

After talking to her doctor, Amber decided to forgo much of the hormones and medicines that are used to help IVF patients get pregnant. She had never had issues getting pregnant in the past, before getting her tubes tied, and felt like she wanted to go the natural route and “let God do his thing.” 

Amber needed to take birth control for a short period of time, in addition to her antibiotics, and then wait for her first menstrual cycle before she could implant. In December 2020, nearly one year after she had first decided to start her IVF journey, Amber had a natural implantation with her second and last embryo.

A happy ending!

As we already know, the natural implantation was successful! Amber found out that she was pregnant in December of 2020. After enduring the tragedy of their miscarriage the previous summer, the Smiths were wary to get excited and didn’t share the news for a few months. But finally, in March 2021, the Smiths announced that Amber is currently pregnant with a baby boy!

When it came to naming the newest addition to their family, the Smiths wanted to honor River while also letting this baby be his own person. Eventually, they settled on the name Maverick Beckham.

“Whatever name we picked, I wanted ‘Riv’ to be a part of that name,” said Amber in another episode of The Smiths. “I wanted this baby to have his own identity, and I didn’t want him to be so tied to River, but I did want him to have a little piece of his brother in his name.” 

Maverick’s middle name, Beckham, has a special meaning as well. It means “homestead by the stream,” which could also be phrased as “home by the river.” 

Throughout the entire IVF journey, River was in the forefront of the Smiths’ minds. In their official pregnancy announcement on Instagram, the Smith family chose to honor River and all that his life brought them. They acknowledge in the touching video that it is because of River’s life that Maverick is joining their family.

Though there were many ups and downs to Amber Smith’s IVF journey, it does have a happy ending. Congratulations and best wishes to the entire Smith family! The world is so excited to meet Maverick this summer!

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