By Jenny Schafer, McClatchy-Tribune
Fox anchor Alisyn Camerota is a happy and busy mother of three. But things haven’t always been easy for the New Jersey native. Alisyn and her husband struggled with fertility for three long years and tried the “whole gamut of procedures.” She didn’t even tell her best friends about her infertility during those “rough” years, but is now speaking out about her experiences and encouraging people not to give up hope. Alisyn opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about her journey toward motherhood.
Celebrity Baby Scoop: Tell us about your three kids. What are their names and ages? What are they into?
Alisyn Camerota: I have twin girls who are Alessandra and Francesa and they’re about to be 6 years old. They love singing and dancing. They’re forever putting on shows at night for my husband and me. They’re great, great artists. They’re just now learning how to read so every night they read us a couple of books which is a very slow and laborious process at the moment, but it’s really nice to see them being so enthusiastic about it.
Then we have Nathaniel, our son, who just turned 4 and he’s sort of the family comedian; he’s very funny. He has hilarious comedic timing, even before he could speak; he was so funny. He used to do these funny imitations of people even before he could talk. He goes to preschool so he’s just learning things like colors, shapes, letters and numbers. It’s chaos, but a blissful chaos at our house every day.
CBS: How do you balance career and motherhood? Do you have nannies? How do you juggle it all?
AC: It’s sort of a mix of everything. We do have a nanny during the week, thank goodness, she’s a lifesaver; she’s basically part of the family. She’s been with us since the girls were two months old so we really do consider her to be part of the family. I have this sort of upside down schedule where I host my show on the weekends, but our nanny does need a couple of days off to recuperate. So my husband and I are solo much of the weekend and he gets up with the kids at 6:30 in the morning while I’m gone and makes them a big pancake breakfast. And by the time I come home at about 2:00 in the afternoon, the house has been destroyed; they’ve built forts in every room, things are strewn everywhere and the dishes are still in the sink, but my husband and I try to muddle through the rest of the weekend. Heaven help our nanny when she comes in on Monday morning and the place looks like it’s been ransacked. We want to spend time with the kids, but because of my crazy schedule, we’re always on kind of a swing shift. Luckily, I work for an incredibly family friendly organization.
Fox has made it so wonderfully easy to be the mother of young children. They’re so flexible; I can have flexible hours. I’ve worked at other networks where, God forbid, you would have to leave for a doctor’s appointment in the middle of the day and you’d come back to the hairy eyeball from your boss or whomever. Fox is not at all like that; they’re so understanding. Anytime I’ve ever said, “Listen, I have a kids school play I need to go to or have a parent teacher conference,” it’s understood and they say, “Great, go ahead.” Frankly, we’re all adults and I get my work done, even if I’m missing for a few hours.
I’ve been forever grateful that I’ve been able to balance both work and family because I know lots of mothers with young kids have had to make a decision between managing their family or their career. I’m very grateful that I didn’t have to choose one or the other. I do have a demanding job; I have to get up very early; I have to be on; I have to have energy; I have to know my stuff, but, thank God, Fox recognizes that the rest of the time, we can be flexible and still deliver.
CBS: What kind of a parent are you? Are you strict, laid back, a worrier?
AC: I am certainly stricter than my parents were, but I think that’s because I have three kids. So I’ve had to be more regimented. I always had them on a sleep schedule and an eating schedule. We were never freewheeling. I’m sure that my mother and my husband’s mother probably thought I was rigid at times, but, because I had a job, I felt very strongly that they needed to eat between 5 and 6 p.m., because that helped my schedule. I needed to know that they were in bed, lights out by 8:00 p.m., because that gives me time to work at night. So I’m fairly strict with a schedule.
In terms of punishment, I’ve always used the 1, 2, 3, you’re out method which has worked for me very well. When I say 1, they know it’s a warning that they’ve done something that has crossed a line. At 2, they know they’re inching closer to the danger zone and at 3, they’re in a time out. That’s been very successful for me. Usually at 1, they generally stop what they’re doing. If they do end up in a time out, it’s generally best all the way around because you end up separating them from one another and the chaos.
When I threaten for my kids to lose a privilege, and they have so precious few at this age, but when they think that they’re going to lose their half hour of “Backyardigans,” it sends a shiver down their spine. I also use the reward system where they can earn stickers if they do chores or if they’re particularly generous or kind to their brother or sister, and that’s worked well to.
CBS: What are some of your favorite memories or moments as a mom?
AC: What I’ve always loved is the tactile sense of physicality with them. I just love the kissing, the hugging, the piggy back rides and picking them up or holding their hand as you’re walking. This morning I was taking my son to school and he put his warm little hand in mine, and that is just so special that I get to hold this little hand. That’s never been lost on me; that they are these little beings that I get to hug, nibble on.
It’s funny because it is changing. I’m very aware that this is a very brief moment in time. Already my girls are getting more modest and don’t like my husband to pick them up and hug them or smother them in kisses. They’ll say, “No daddy, no,” and will try and run away from him. I know I will be getting that treatment soon and I recognize that at adolescence, they’ll want no part of us. So I appreciate this right now. I remember being 14 years old and going out with my mother in the town that I grew up in. I told my mother to walk 10 paces behind me and if I saw a friend, just peel off. I told her not to even acknowledge that we’re together.
CBS: Tell us about your struggles with infertility. How long did you struggle? Did you use IVF or other treatments?
AC: That was a three-year ordeal. I tried on my own, as the doctors recommend, for six months and then went very reluctantly to see fertility doctors. I had hoped to not have to be in that situation, but sensed that I would be due to the fact that I had highly irregular cycles. I ended up doing the whole gamut of procedures because less invasive things didn’t work. I started with Clomid which is just an oral medication which didn’t work. I then moved on to injectable medications. I ran the spectrum all the way down to IVF which is very difficult. It was a painful three years. It’s such an emotional rollercoaster because you have good days when things seem promising and then you have heartbreaking setbacks. I had two miscarriages during that time. I really came to believe that it was never going to happen for me. I was pretty convinced of that; it was a pretty rough road.
Many people go through it longer than that, but every day of those three years felt like an eternity because you’re just consumed by that issue at all times. It really never leaves you. Ultimately on my fourth and last IVF; I had sort of emotionally decided that that was going to be the last one I would do, I got pregnant with twins.
CBS: Why have you chosen to go public with your infertility struggles?
AC: When I was going through it, I was very, very secretive. I didn’t share it with anyone. I’m extremely close to my best friends; they’re my best friends from high school and I didn’t tell them. I’m extremely close with my mother, but didn’t tell her. It was just too painful. There’s something about fertility. This is something we need to try and break. It’s such a taboo subject, that people struggling with it have a sense of shame.
So I didn’t tell anyone at the time. I did find a support group and that was a lifesaver. I really only felt that I could let my guard down one night a week when I was at my support group. There are other women who were in my same boat; we were all going through it. They became my soul sisters through this. That was really the only time I felt peace. During that process, I just prayed that if I was ever on the other side of this, I would do what I could to help those that were still suffering. My support group was so powerful and, by the way, had a phenomenal success rate. The way I remember it, there were 15 of us in the group for 10 weeks, and by the end there were only four of us that weren’t pregnant; I was one of them.
People who struggled for years, all were able to get pregnant. And since then, the small group continued on and two more of us became pregnant. I saw the power of support groups first hand and wanted to start one because I recognize that they work. So I went on the Resolve website (The National Infertility Association) and poked around to see if I could set up a support group. They give you some training so that’s what I did. I didn’t intend to talk about it publicly but once I got involved with Resolve, there were opportunities to talk about it. They have a big event each year and they asked me to be their speaker. So while I didn’t really relish the idea of talking about all of this because it is very personal, but I just remembered that no one talks about it. And there’s power in talking about it! When people do talk about it, other people going through it feel so much relief because when you’re going through this it’s such a taboo subject and it’s so secretive that you feel all alone. You think you’re the only person in the world this is happening to. So now that I’m on the other side of it and somewhat in the public eye, I just feel that’s my responsibility to talk about it because people that are going through it can’t.
Another thing I want to mention is that crazy stuff happens during this infertility ride. After my twins were born, I found myself shockingly pregnant 15 months later, with my son. Surprises can happen and crazy, unpredictable things happen so that’s another reason I want to talk about it. I’m living proof that infertility is not a static condition. Infertility does not have to be a permanent condition. You can do things to enhance your fertility and they can work. I don’t even mean just fertility drugs. Even as women get older, you can actually get more fertile as you get older; doctors don’t tell you that. It only happened for me after I totally cleaned up my diet and started living a much healthier life. Then I became surprisingly fertile after that. I want to give people hope and want them to know that things change and miracles can happen.
CBS: If you are working on any other projects or with any other charities, feel free to discuss.
AC: I was just accepted onto the Resolve board and I’m happy to be a spokesperson or representative for them in any way that I can be. My husband and I are involve in a lot of education projects for kids. We’re really involved with our children’s schools as well as our own previous schools like my grammar school. We provide a scholarship to send a child to school there. It’s called the New School of Monmouth County of New Jersey. They only have 50 kids and have been going strong for over 40 years. God bless the teachers and educators there for staying true to the school’s mission and philosophy which is that kids learn best when they’re able to explore on their own without a lot of teacher intervention.
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