Rosanna Davison: "It feels like the biggest miracle after our fertility struggles"
You're reading Her's digital cover story. December 2020's star is former Miss World, author, and new mum of twins, Rosanna Davison.
"You just don’t know who could be struggling in secret."
On July 22, 2020 Rosanna Davison broke the internet.
Posting a photo of herself, husband Wes and daughter Sophia, the star announced that she was expecting identical twins - a mere few months after being told that she would probably never be able to carry her own baby.
Rosanna's joy wasn't just contained to her family - it was shared by thousands across the country. Once she broke the news it was everywhere, along with the wishes of congratulations from hundreds of strangers, each genuinely delighted to be reading one of the year's most undeniably good news stories.
"It feels like the biggest miracle after our fertility struggles," she tells Her. "The previous week I had gone in for an early scan and was amazed to see a tiny foetus with a beating heart up on the screen, so I had been absolutely thrilled.
"But when the doctor announced there were twins in there, there were tears and a few swear words too - in the best kind of way! Total shock, amazement and delight. I have it all recorded on video to show my boys some day."
Daughter of Chris De Burgh and the only Irish woman to ever win the title of Miss World, Rosanna has been a household name for almost two decades. Since winning the global beauty pageant, she has signed to one of the UK's top modelling agencies, trained as a nutritional therapist, and even released her own bestselling cookbook, Eat Yourself Beautiful.
To some, Rosanna is known as a beauty queen, to others, an author. But in recent years she has emerged as a candid and honest voice on fertility and the issues that many couples will face when trying to start a family.
Rosanna announced that she and Wes were expecting their first child via surrogate last year. Baby Sophia was born last November; the couples' first child after trying for years to conceive naturally.
Upon announcing the happy news, Rosanna took the opportunity to share the details of her journey up until that point - the struggles that she and Wes had experienced in trying to get pregnant, the heartbreak they had endured through multiple pregnancy losses.
"I felt strongly that our story was important to tell," she says, "to show other women and couples that they’re not alone and fertility struggles are unfortunately more common than we realise.
"When Wes and I were going through the height of our fertility fight, I felt a certain sense of shame, guilt and embarrassment that my reproductive system was ‘dysfunctional.' It was a really tough subject to discuss."
Rosanna knew very little about miscarriages before she had one. When she and Wes started trying to have a family in 2015, she was excited. But it wasn't long after she became pregnant for the first time that she discovered that something was wrong.
"I was told pretty much that my immune system was reacting to Wes' DNA, seeing it as a foreign invader," she said at the time. "Essentially my body was killing my babies."
Rosanna experienced 14 early miscarriages before she and Wes opted to use a surrogate to start their family. Throughout her journey, she spoke candidly about her fertility struggles - to help herself get through it, but to support others in similar situations.
Some influencers use their platforms to promote their brand, largely keeping the real them - their struggles, their experiences, their vulnerabilities - hidden from their followers. Rosanna, however, felt her experience was one worth being honest about.
"My heart breaks for those going through what we experienced," she says. "I really want to show my support, compassion and empathy, and to be a voice for them.
"You just don’t know who could be struggling in secret. Infertility can be a severely lonely, traumatic and terrifying experience and building a support network of close friends and family to speak to is crucial."
Rosanna's experience may be common, but her decision to speak up is not. She is one of many women in the spotlight who have opened up about their loss, including Chrissy Teigen and more recently Meghan Markle.
Attitudes are slowly changing, says Rosanna, but we still have further to go.
"I’ve found that now both women and men are more comfortable speaking more openly about their fertility struggles or route to parenthood," she says. "It got us through those difficult years and really helped the healing process."
Rosanna welcomed her twin boys, Hugo and Oscar, at the National Maternity Hospital late last month. Sharing a family photo from the delivery room, she announced the birth of her "miracle babies" who, despite the mixed emotions involved in being pregnant during a pandemic, she enjoyed every second of carrying.
"It was strange going to scans without Wes by my side," she says, "but we did book a private 3D/4D scan when I was 24 weeks pregnant, so he had a chance to hear their heartbeats and we saw their little faces too. I recorded the screen at all of my scans and sent him the videos and photos straight afterwards.
"It was brilliant to have Wes home from work when I was going to through the first trimester back in April, May and June. He took Sophia so I could nap every afternoon and I sent him out to the shops more than once for my various sudden food cravings!
"He’s a fantastic dad and really capable, so we had some great family time this year."
It's family time that Rosanna is most looking forward to next year, too. Family-of-five time, that is.
"Beginning 2021 as a mum of three feels completely surreal, and like all our dreams are coming true," she says.
"We feel incredibly grateful for the positives that 2020 have brought us, despite it being a challenging year in so many ways. But I’m also excited about the prospect of an effective vaccine in 2021 so we can hopefully all put Covid behind us and begin to live life fully again!"