Longread: Rosanna shares the highs and lows of her fertility struggles, and what life is like juggling three babies
Mother’s day is a particularly poignant holiday for Rosanna Davison. She is now mother to three children, Sophia, Hugo and Oscar, but for years, the day was a reminder of her struggles with pregnancy loss. She realises that there are so many people out there who are struggling to have a child like she was.
“I can relate so much. For people struggling with that situation, it is a very difficult place to be. The feeling doesn’t go away, of just wishing you were the one celebrating Mother’s Day as a mum,” Rosanna says.
“But I would always say don’t give up hope. I am a great example of someone who tried and tried and eventually it worked out for us. I can only use our story and experiences to show that there is light at the end of the tunnel and you can get your family wish to come true. Their time will come around.”
In 2019 the former Miss World shared that she had experienced 14 miscarriages.
“You go to a very dark place at the time. Everytime you get pregnant it is a glimmer of hope. You’d look at the due date and tell yourself if this one works, we’ll have the baby at the end of the year. I think it is human to keep up that level of hope,” Rosanna says.
“But at the same time, when the miscarriage would start it was always around the same stage and I would get the drop in hormones and tired. You just have to mentally drag yourself out of the hole again. I would allow myself a day or two to grieve what wasn’t to be. I’d say let’s try again next month.”
Path to motherhood
She received huge support from the public for sharing her story, and the news that she and husband Wes Quirke were planning to have their first child through surrogacy. Their daughter Sophia arrived in November 2019.
“We just got so much support from sharing our story. But what struck me originally about sharing our surrogacy story, was that so many people have gone through fertility struggles like we did. Everyone has a different story, but the feelings you go through are the same. The feelings of trauma and loneliness, that feeling of everyone around you being pregnant when it is not happening for you,” she says.
“I think it opened up a conversation around different paths to parenthood too. Surrogacy became our only option in the end. I was told that I wouldn’t be able to carry a baby. I was told that IVF wouldn’t be an option for us, because the getting pregnant part and fertility and the quality of my eggs wasn’t the issue it was holding onto the pregnancy. So once something becomes the only option you give it everything you have so that is what we did. It was the beginning of 2018 that I started the research and started getting the medical and legal advice.”
Rosanna’s advice to anyone considering surrogacy is to seek out legal advice from a lawyer who specialises in surrogacy law in Ireland and abroad, before making any enquiries with fertility agencies or facilities abroad.
In a miraculous turn of events, Rosanna and Wes were overjoyed to discover one month into lockdown that she was pregnant again. She believes the slower pace of family life at home during lockdown played a part in the success of this pregnancy.
She welcomed identical twin boys Hugo and Oliver in November 2020. There will be three days of the year that her children will all be the same age, so she jokes that there will be lots of joint parties in her future.
“When you’re trying for a baby, what everyone says is ‘stop trying and it’ll happen’, and in our case that is what happened with the twins,” Rosanna says.
But before the twins, it was hard to get out of the mindset of ‘trying’ for a baby.
“When you’re going through it, it just doesn’t work like that. As a woman you are always aware of your cycle, you’re always aware of the window of opportunity to get pregnant and it’s very hard to switch that off.”
So how have she and Wes coped with three small babies during lockdown?
“I think once you welcome a baby into your life, your life changes forever. We got used to having Sophia last year, we were in lockdown so it was lovely family time. It was less stressful to have one baby between two parents compared to three babies between the two of us,” Rosanna says.
“Being outnumbered by babies is pretty terrifying at times. But your life changes so much having one baby that it doesn’t really change too much more when it is three. The workload just increases, the pile of laundry gets bigger and so does your weekly shop of nappies.
“I found that I am far more efficient with my time and far more organised as well, now that I have three babies. You see these little windows of time to get things done and I find that I am much better at planning out my day.”
That’s not to say it is in anyway easy having three babies under two. She has shared some parenting moments online to let all the tired, overwhelmed parents that follow her know that she is in the exact same boat.
The support she has gotten in return has been overwhelmingly positive.
“I think when you show your vulnerability and your struggles, people really respond to that. I think it is important to be honest and real, and show that your life isn’t all perfect and that you struggle. At the moment it is a struggle to look after three babies and I am trying to be as honest about that as possible. It’s not easy, but it’s normal for everybody to make their life look easier than it is. You never actually know what is going on in people’s lives and behind closed doors. That was a message I wanted to convey as well.”
She tries to ignore the negative comments that come her way.
“If I do get any negativity it is easiest just to block them. I do remember when I announced our surrogacy journey with Sophia, that someone said ‘maybe you just didn’t want to get fat if you got pregnant yourself’, and I just thought, if you only knew just how desperate I am to be pregnant. So things like that do come along, but they don’t bother me too much, I know the truth and I know how I feel. I have shared my story in all of its honesty, with nothing hidden.”
By her side through it all has been her own mother, Diane.
“She was with us for the whole fertility journey and she was desperate for a grandchild,” Rosanna says.
“We’re in a support bubble with my parents and she is amazing. We couldn’t have done it without her support. She is always so pragmatic and very calm under pressure.
“ For the first two months with the boys they had pretty bad reflux and colic and they’re coming out of that now and it is getting easier, she always said to us, it’s just a phase, it’s not going to last forever, and that we are probably going to look back on this time and not even remember it because you’re exhausted and stressed.
“And it’s true. Sophia had colic and I can barely remember those early months because you are just so tired and getting used to the new routine. She is great for calming us when we are stressed. She arrives at the house like a hero to save us from all the crying.”
That is why Rosanna is determined to spoil her mum on Mother’s Day. When Rosanna was struggling to have her own child, it was her mum she turned to for support and to distract her from the pain of family holidays like Mother’s Day.
“I would just focus on spending time with her and distracting myself by going for a walk. I would also recommend avoidnig social media if you are sensitive to mentions of Mother’s Day.”
Rosanna has teamed up with One4All to celebrate the joys of motherhood. Treat the mother figure in your life to a One4All gift card, with which they can choose their own gift from over 11,000 retailers. Visit one4all.ie.