For journalist Emily Zanotti, motherhood hasn’t come easily. It was a long journey, one which involved a lot of heartache and suffering along the way — but now, she’s a mom to twins, with another baby on the way.
Zanotti spoke with Live Action News about her struggles with infertility. “We tried for years,” she said. “Initially, it was just sort of a ‘huh, we should have been pregnant by now’ thing, but after a year, we started talking to doctors.”
Eventually, they were referred to a fertility clinic, which didn’t help as much as they had hoped. “It is already a hard road, and initially, we felt like a lot of people saw us and saw desperation and, subsequently, dollar signs,” she explained. “The fertility clinic was particularly hard. At our first visit, we were ushered through an unkempt office, talked to a doctor for barely a few minutes and were handed a bill and a ‘price list’ for the extensive treatments that were our ‘only option.’ It was heartbreaking.”
They were later referred to a Catholic doctor who had previously been a top fertility doctor. After his conversion, though, his methodology changed. “Although he still did fertility, it was less reliant on IVF as a ‘cure all,’ and that sounded wonderful,” she said. “We ended up working with this doc for around four or five years, trying different methods, all the while being surrounded by prayer and faith and, because of that, hope.”
Even though their new doctor gave them hope, it didn’t mean the journey was any less difficult. “It’s difficult struggling with infertility because you feel as though God has forgotten you,” she said. “We tell ourselves that children are a ‘blessing,’ but what happens when you’re not blessed? Is it because you’re undeserving? Is it because you’ve gone wrong? Not been faithful enough? Done something to deserve sadness and misery? The answer is always ‘no’ — God has a plan that is utterly miraculous, and that plan is different for everyone.”
In addition to causing her to struggle with her faith, infertility also caused Zanotti to doubt herself.
“Physiologically, you think this is the only thing a woman’s body is explicilty designed to do: reproduce. And my body couldn’t,” she said. “It felt very sorrowful on a primal level. And everything suffers from that. Infertility is such a long term cross that it affects your relationships — especially your marriage.”
Eventually, after going to “last resort” treatments, things began to change. But more sorrow was still on the way, before the joy that would eventually come. “After a novena to Our Lady Undoer of Knots, our doctor suggested I have an endometriosis surgery,” she said. “We discovered that, while my endometriosis was mild, what little there was had fused my ovaries together! After that surgery, and a few months of recovery, I got pregnant. I had a miscarriage (a whole different type of mourning), then got pregnant again, the month that my husband and I agreed would be our last time working through a fertility cycle for a while — this time, it stuck. TWINS.”
A successful pregnancy was exhilarating and joyful, but it still brought a new wave of fear, especially after having suffered pregnancy losses. “I was nothing but anxious,” she said. “I have never been more scared or worried in my entire life! After eight years of trying, it felt as though things could fall apart at any moment. I spent a lot of time in the house, scared to do anything for fear I’d ‘ruin’ something. I didn’t start to feel comfortable until I was well into my second trimester. I ended up seeing a therapist right away to help process a lot of the fear and anxiety and I’m glad I did. It helped me to enjoy things a bit, even though I spent most of the nine months waiting for the other shoe to drop. Luckily, it never did.”
Originally, Zanotti and her husband had a scare that led her to believe she was having another miscarriage. Only this time, it was an extra special gift for their family. “About six weeks in, around the time we’d lost our first baby after the surgery, I started bleeding. I panicked, thinking I was having a miscarriage, and rushed to the doctor,” she recalled. “It was at that appointment though, when they did an ultrasound to see what was going on, that the doctor told us we were having twins. I almost passed out. Quite literally. Right there. I may have used some words I don’t typically use. My husband, luckily, held it together.”
Zanotti’s twin boys were born via C-section last year, and she had faith that everything with the delivery would be all right. Once they were born, it was an incredible, emotional moment. “The first thing I heard was my doctor talking to the babies when he saw them, and it was just unbelievable. Then one cried! And then another one cried! And then I cried! Everyone was crying!” she said. “It was pretty incredible. I got to see them first in my husband’s arms and it was hard to believe that these tiny things had just, moments before, been inside. They eventually let me hold them as I was being taken to recovery and there’s a hilarious photo of me holding both of them just sort of looking like, ‘What do I do now?'”
Being mom to twins, named Thomas and Theodore by Zanotti and her husband, has been an incredible experience for Zanotti, one she says has made everything worth it. “It’s been astounding to watch two little guys grow up and develop together,” she said. “They are two completely different people, though I have to say, they have the same personalities now that they had in the womb. One is loud and happy and excited about everything, especially food, toys, and other people. The other is quiet and sensitive, and more of an engineer, a thinker.”
She added, “It’s been great watching them explore their world and learn to interact with each other. It’s also neat being part of the limited club of ‘moms of multiples.’ I’ve never been blessed with such an outpouring of support and felt as much a part of a community.”
But having twins hasn’t been the only miracle; Zanotti recently announced that she is pregnant again.
Though infertility brought pain, Zanotti says motherhood has made it all worth it.
“There is absolutely no doubt that infertility is one of the most difficult paths that a married couple can navigate. It’s so hard,” she admitted. “And it becomes so much a part of your life because it is so integral to your love, your faith, your family. But this has been worth it. So worth it that we’re adding to our family here in the fall. I really hope that I can be a source of inspiration to a lot of people because it took us a very long time to get where we are.”
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