When I wake up, I dream big. When I work, I dream big. When I talk to my kids, I dream big.
When I love, I think big.
When I decided to have a family, I dreamt big.
For the future of my kids, I dream big.
The #OrganycUSAuthentic series shares stories of motivated, ambitious women throughout the USA, who overcome obstacles to then give back to the community. Determined to represent “Authentic” in its most genuine definition, we asked Deborah Pezzuto to define authentic for International Family Day.
Born in sunny and windy Brindisi, on the heel of the Italian boot, I moved to Florence for my University studies and later to Milan where I started my career as a Media Manager for large multinational advertising, FMCG and banking companies. After many years in Milan I moved to New York with my partner Alessandro and decided to start a family. I was already in my early forties, but still dreamt of having a large family. We successfully open adopted a beautiful baby girl called Keisha.
When we decided to start our family, we knew it would be a challenge to conceive. My age (41 at the time) was a major hurdle to overcome. Despite our worries, we tried our best to conceive naturally and incorporated all sorts of techniques, some of which would be a bit funny to describe. Unfortunately, none of those techniques worked.
That was the beginning of a difficult time for us as a couple. I was often extremely down and found it difficult to stay motivated. Even worse was that it seemed like every woman I knew was expecting a baby. I kept thinking it would be difficult if not impossible to get pregnant and slowly started to become more and more isolated.
We had already adopted our wonderful daughter and wanted to make our family bigger and give her si-
blings. So, we decided to try the fertility treatments route, and that was the beginning of another challenging time.
Every morning, I went to the clinic, and regularly met other women who all had the same objective of having a baby. We would offer each other words of encouragement and exchange updates on our situations. Each woman had her own story, and it helped having other women to confide in, especially during the difficult moments. The women in that waiting room were of all different ages, at times also surprisingly young. We would sit together and wait for consultations, examinations and outcomes. We all helped each other. Some women were very open, while others were more reserved. I used to go there at 7AM, have blood taken for a routine check and then start undergoing testing.
IVF is not a walk in the park. It is a challenging process both physically and psychologically. The process has an impact on the entire family. Assisted fertility treatments modify your mood, so you are often very nervous and touchy. It is tiring, and it is not something you really want to talk about with anybody to avoid getting your hopes up only to have them shattered.
We tried three times. Three times we followed the protocol scrupulously, but without success. Learning about the negative outcomes from the doctors is always a tough stab in the heart. Even IVF seemed to be ineffective for us. I was already 44 years old and it was very difficult to find the perfect egg. Despite all the discipline, the toll taken by the process on my body and mind was heavy.
I wasn’t sure what the next step could have been.
I guess I managed to hang in there, because I still was committed to giving my daughter, Keisha, siblings. After much reflection I decided to try one last time. This time was a bit different. I did not have very high hopes given the previous failures. I signed up for swimming and gym classes and started running again. I was determined to get back to my life without overthinking.
I even started going out again in the evening, travelling, and I took the process much more in stride this time.
The day of the “transfer,” the doctor informed me that the eggs were of good quality and to think about how many I wanted implanted as there was a high chance of conceiving twins. I decided to go all in given the past failures. It was my last possibility and I gave it the maximum chance.10 days later, I got the call: “Your results lead us to believe you may be having twins!”
The clinic nurse was extremely happy, and I was speechless! Just when I had stopped being so worried, things worked out! IVF can make miracles, but I advise all women considering this route to try not to put too much pressure on themselves.
Following the IVF process, our two beautiful twin boys Zack and Dylan arrived, right before our jobs required that we relocate to Mexico City. When we were at the top of our game personally and professionally, and extremely busy bottle feeding the children and changing a lot of diapers, we discovered that Zack an
d Dylan had been born profoundly deaf.
That news came as a complete shock, between a move to a new country and a change of jobs, it really caught us in a very delicate moment of our lives.
Knocked off balance, we had to significantly adapt our lives and find the strength necessary to give our kids the chance to reach their full potential, despite their hearing disability.
Later came bilateral cochlear implant surgery, speech therapy, and a lot more to keep us all going. Throughout this journey, I discovered I possessed a force and strength of character that I had never imagined possible.
Today, I can proudly say that our three children, now aged 6 and 8, lead a very happy and successful life. Zack and Dylan speak Italian and English and are in line with their group of peers in terms of language and cognitive abilities.
“We were both born deaf,
but we don’t think of it as a problem.
We can talk and sing.
We have many friends.
We want to be superheroes.
We dream Big.
We never give up. WE CAN is our best word and we use it for all our dreams”
– Zack & Dylan
Keisha, their big sister, is thriving in school and sports activities
. Keisha is very good at swimming, already exercising in the Olympic pool. In addition she also takes piano lessons and she is able to read music on the pentagram with incredible ease. She has also joined a theatre group and learns songs quickly without too much effort. She joined the
local “Brownies” group and this stimulates her fantasy and social skills. She has good friends and her laugh is quite contagious. All these activities (maybe too many…) are helping her overcome her shyness little by little, one step after another, day after day.
Family for me is my center of gravity, my purpose and fulfilment. It is a place that enables me to grow day by day, through learning about myself, learning from my children and supporting my partner and children becoming whole persons, who can give meaningful contributions to our relatives, friends and community.
Yes, creating our family was challenging. But family isn’t only about those who are connected to me from a biological point of view. I have always believed that parenting goes beyond DNA, and this is why we adopted Keisha. Today, we are a family who has diversity at its core, and we are proud to experience every day what we believe is a great opportunity for society as a whole.
We live in a world that pushes us to show that we are confident, strong and performing. The reality is that we have at times long moments of difficulty and suffering. Showing vulnerability is a bit of a taboo today, but it shouldn’t be that way.
I do my best to always show up as authentic as possible, without constantly wearing a mask. I am a normal women, far from perfect, and I alternate moments of a miraculous sense of balance with moments of sadness, which I make an effort to confront with my full self.
I subsequently developed a hunger to offer my experience to other individuals or families going through challenging times, especially those who welcome to this world children with special needs.
If you are one of these families, I have a message for you:
No matter how tough the situation is, there is a world of possibilities to live a very full life. Never give up on the desire to be happy, ambitious, never lower your personal goals and those of your children no matter how big the problem is. No matter how hard the circumstances are, a possibility always exists to live life in a meaningful and fulfilling way. Keep fighting to reach yours and your children’s future wildest dreams.
Deborah Pezzuto is a Life Coach. Her website is www.http://deborahpezzuto.com.
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