I recently sat with Rosanna Davison, winner of Miss World and daughter of singer Chris de Burgh. Well known for career in the public eye, she has released a book detailing the private anguish and heartbreak that she, alongside her husband Wes, suffered through loss. Rosanna opened up to us about that journey of heartbreak and hope, to realising their ultimate dream, having a family.
Rosanna, you were very courageous in your new book discussing topics such as miscarriage and parental rights around surrogacy. How has it been received from the public?
It’s been very positive really. I wanted to tell our story for a number of reasons number 1, our children Sophia, Hugo and Oscar. I wanted them to know how they came into the world, why they weren’t born from the same womb in that I couldn’t give birth to Sophia. We wanted and fought for them so much, fought so hard for each of them. As years pass by details fade so as challenging as it was to write a book with three babies at home I somehow did it! I think when your given a deadline in the publishing world you do what you can to reach it. With the help of my Aunt and my Mum taking the kids on certain days or in the evenings, I did most of the writing in the evenings but we got there eventually. But I also wrote the book for the many couples that are struggling or have struggled to have a family, because it’s an incredibly traumatic, terrifying and lonely place to be in when you really want a baby and you feel like time is running out or you haven’t discovered what the problem might be and everyone has a different journey whether it be IVF or surrogacy, adoption or pregnancy loss. Whatever you go through the emotions are similar where you just feel stuck in the same cycle, you feel like nobody out there understands what you’re going through because everyone out there seems to be having babies easily, I was like that a few years ago in that I was watching my friends having their second and third babies and I was just stuck in this cycle of pregnancy loss and picking ourselves up again. Going through the same thing again. It’s a really hard place to be in and I feel like I can offer advice? It’s a very hard story but our story is something I would have loved to hear about back in 2016 or 2017 when we were really in the height of our
pregnancy losses. I was so desperate for a story of hope, anything to give me support and comfort, I remember trawling through all the internet pages and boards looking for stories of success after repeat losses and I know my story would have given us a lot of hope. Back then it wasn’t really talked about the way it is now? There has been an amazing opening up I guess across social media and general press, just general discourse about fertility and miscarriage which has been really positive to see and I’m just delighted to contribute to that because back maybe 4 or 5 years ago it just felt like there was such a veil of silence and stigma around fertility. In the beginning I felt really embarrassed and ashamed about my body, I felt like it was dysfunctional or it was broken and I was too ashamed to tell people what we were going through apart from a couple of close friends and family. But after a while I began to thing why should I be ashamed? Because I can’t have a baby naturally why should I be embarrassed about this, I need to start talking about it and see if other people are going through it and that’s really what led to me building my confidence about talking more publicly and the response has been incredibly powerful. It’s been incredibly positive, the amount of women particularly that have contacted me and said the story has given them a huge amount of hope or that they can relate to what we went through. They have even messaged to say it has given them strength for the future so you know it’s only a positive thing really to be able to share your experience to support others, it’s been eye opening for me to see the response. I’m delighted to have something for the future for when I’m really old and embarrassing the kids they can read it and think oh she was young once!
What was your experience of the surrogacy like as opposed to your own personal pregnancy?
It’s important for me for Sophia to know how hard we fought for her. I want her to know that we don’t treat her and the twins any differently? In general people have been so understanding and with an issue like fertility you can only be sensitive, you can only be compassionate because you really don’t know what people are going through? I think what most of us have in common is just the desire to be a mum or a dad and you’ll understand that you’ll do anything, go through anything to have a baby. I think people are generally so much more open minded in the last decade when IVF has become more common and more talked about. Surrogacy has recently been in the headlines a lot so I think people understand that not everyone can have a family in the traditional way and you’ll do whatever you can to have one and adoption isn’t that easy either. It’s about taking whatever route you can really to parenthood an ultimately, and this is how I saw it as well, going through the surrogacy process that ultimately getting your baby is what matters so it doesn’t really matter how you get there once you get there!
Can you explain the feelings of yourself and your partner Wes when you found out you were expecting the twins?
When I did the pregnancy test and showed Wes we kind of thought it was a bit of a grim feeling really because I had just had my 15th miscarriage the previous month at ten and a half weeks so we were in lockdown at this stage and we just thought not this again. We were going to face another miscarriage but this time in lockdown without any family support maybe that we’ve had in the past so there wasn’t much excitement at the beginning, I didn’t expect anything to come from another positive pregnancy test. But it did feel different from the beginning, I definitely felt much more tired and nauseous, I really felt the symptoms more strongly, obviously now I know it was because I was carrying twins but yes I felt it was different. The feeling of finding out there was not one but two beating hearts was just extraordinary. We just feel incredibly lucky that maybe a series of circumstances came together that enabled it to happen for us because I was the girl that was told I would probably never carry a baby myself and I had made peace with that, I was okay with that I had accepted I needed medical help and support of a surrogate to have a baby. So for me to find out I was carrying two healthy babies felt like an absolute miracle and still does. I still look at the boys every day in wonder. One of the boys, Oscar, actually took his first steps today. He had been standing up a lot, he just suddenly stood up on a baby walker out of the blue and started walking along, it’s been a really exciting day They will be one on the 18th of November so to go from needing a surrogate to now seeing this it’s just amazing, we feel very lucky.
With three very small kids, what is a day in your family life like?
Thankfully they are all good sleepers so they’re all usually asleep by seven, apart from tonight! They usually sleep through until around 6.30am in the morning so luckily we are getting our sleep now, it hasn’t always been like that. But yes, we are usually up with them at 6.30am the boys have a bottle, everyone’s sitting down to breakfast by about 8am. We usually get out for a walk if it’s a nice day, I love heading out to the park and we bring them to the playground. The boys are at the stage they are really enjoying the swings now and we will go down the slide. Of course bringing them out and running them around means that they go down for their nap a bit easier if they are a little bit tired! The day is just a series of trying to juggle a few different routines because the boys are in the same kind of routine as each other but Sophia is nearly 2 so she has one nap a day and the boys have 2 so trying to juggle them and mealtimes, they all have their three meals a day and about a million snacks! The boys still have their bottles; they eat so much I think it’s just a boy thing! We do have a playroom at home so they do have their space to play and we are in there with them playing and practicing walking and crawling. The days are busy it’s just endless cleaning up, I try to keep the kitchen as clean as I can as I go? Otherwise id just be left with a gigantic mess by the end of the day when you’re tired and not in the mood for cleaning. It’s just me and Wes at home, we don’t have any hired help. Mum comes over around 5pm and helps with dinner and bath time and bed time because that’s when its busiest and definitely when we need a third pair of hands in the house! We do manage even though it’s a massive juggling act. We are so lucky that my mum is energetic and healthy, she just loves them and someday we say “Take a break, stay at home, don’t come over?” and she’s like “I love them and love seeing them”. So we are lucky, she waited a long time to be a grandparent and all of a sudden three came along in the space of a year!
Christmas is upon us and with the children, especially Sophia, being that bit older and more aware of Santa, what are your plans for the festivities?
So far, we are probably going to head over to my mum and dads house in Wicklow with the gang! We are there with them most weekends anyway because it’s nice to have a change of scenery from our house and mum has everything there for the kids, high chairs, cots etc. So probably just do that for Christmas, I’ve bought their Christmas pyjamas already because I found last year everything gets sold out very quickly I try to organised as much as I can. We just keep it simple, we always do anyway keep Christmas low key because it’s such a busy time of year anyway, there is so much pressure on people and suddenly it’s over. People get so stressed in the lead up to it and then it’s over so quickly so we just try to keep it fairly relaxed. I’ve got their presents mostly bought, again just trying to be organised, we keep hearing of delay in supply chains and all the rest so I have presents bought. We’ve been teaching Sophia about Santa and Christmas so she recognises pictures of Santa, I think she will get excited about it. We are hoping to bring them to see Santa maybe at one of the new drive through experiences.
With your line of work there are promotional commitments and events to attend, how are you finding all of that with 3 young babies?
It’s tricky at the moment to get out, to even find someone willing to babysit for you so to be honest we haven’t even tried to plan a night out plus the fact we are woken anytime from 6am onwards there is no point! To be honest though at the moment I don’t go out to events, I just can’t because you need two adults at least at home at all times. So if my mum isn’t available, and I don’t want to be dragging her over all the time, so if she isn’t available then we can’t do anything or go anywhere, for example, tomorrow I have a magazine shoot but it’s just a half day, my mum is going to take Sophia and bring her out somewhere and Wes will have the twins at home but I can only really leave him a few hours because it’s so full on that’s just how it is at the moment. But to be honest I think we are all so used to not going out that much anymore, maybe it’s just me but we’ve gotten used to not going to restaurants or events. Everything I do is online at the moment.
From winning the coveted Miss World crown, you’ve always been admired as a glamorous young woman, on your Instagram you show the “Insta vs Reality”. How important is to you that women see the reality of being a mother?
If you could see me right now I’m in a pair of ugg boots, there’s chocolate all over my leggings from one of them getting hold of some chocolate today and smeared it all over me. Hair up, no makeup on walking around mopping the floor. It’s easy to show the glamorous side and I think we’re all guilty of putting up the more glamorous stuff on our social media because they’re the ones you feel good in; you want to show off a nice outfit if you’re proud. I think it’s normal that we all show the highlights of our day and not the mundane side! I don’t want anyone to think we’re finding this easy or that we have loads of help or that I have my makeup perfect every day. I am quick at pulling myself together and I think that goes back to my Miss World days when I would have to get off a flight and go straight to a red carpet event so I would have to be quite good at putting my hair and makeup together very quickly, so that is something that I can do in 10 minutes and be presentable. Apart from that everyday life is not glamorous and I don’t want anyone thinking motherhood is easy, I think that’s more the media representation was you’re off out for coffee with friends every day, babies in cute little outfits but the reality is far different. Babies need changing plenty of times a day, they get dirty and nothing stays perfect. You would be demented following them around trying to keep them clean whereas they’re just happy as they are. Once they are happy and healthy that’s all that matters.
Rosanna’s book, “When Dreams Come True” is available in all good book shops now