This Woman's Incredible Journey to Motherhood Is Nothing Short of Inspiring

It took three surgeries, three rounds of IUI, and two and a half rounds of IVF for Emily Loftiss to finally have a baby — and then she hit an even bigger challenge.

incredible birth story mother's day
Photo: Courtesy of Emily Loftiss

My whole life I knew I was going to be a mom. I'm also wired to have goals and have always put my career above all else. I was 12 years old when I knew I wanted to be a professional dancer in New York City, and by the time I went off to college, I had my eyes set on being a Radio City Rockette. So, I did just that for several years before ultimately retiring from dancing. I was lucky enough to pivot my career to TV, and I went on to share style and beauty tips on shows including Wendy Williams, The Doctors, QVC, Hallmark, The REAL, and Steve Harvey. This is all to say that, in my mind, being a mom was just the next goal to achieve. All I needed was to fit it into the life I had worked so hard to build.

In November 2016, I was 36 years old, and my husband and I were finally in a place where we felt like it was time to start trying. By "trying" I mean we were really just having fun and seeing where the journey took us. But six months in, we still weren't pregnant and decided to consult an ob-gyn. The doctor very quickly threw out the term "geriatric pregnancy," which is basically an (IMO, outdated)term for people who become pregnant over the age of 35. People with advanced maternal age can sometimes deal with fertility and pregnancy complications, so our doctor suggested we continue trying.

Come August 2017, we still weren't pregnant, so we went into a fertility clinic. Little did we know, that was the start of a very long and painful journey toward parenthood. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm always full of joy and happiness, but sometimes, you have to talk about the dark stuff to get to the light.

Starting a Long Struggle with Infertility

After a preliminary round of tests, I was told that I had hypothyroidism, a condition in which your thyroid gland doesn't produce enough of certain crucial hormones. Low levels of these hormones can interfere with ovulation, which negatively impacts fertility, according to the Mayo Clinic. To correct this, I was put on thyroid medication in September 2017. Meanwhile, I was asked if I had any other underlying conditions that might be impacting my fertility. The only thing I could think of was my period.

My periods have been excruciatingly painful for as long as I can remember. I always assumed I had endometriosis, but I never got it checked out. Each month, I just popped a bunch of Advil and trudged right along. To rule it out, my doctors decided to perform a laparoscopic surgery, where they put a long, slender camera into my abdomen via an incision to see what was going on inside to best address any issues. During the procedure (this was December 2017) they found countless lesions and polyps all over my abdominal area and uterus, a tell-tale sign of endometriosis, a condition that's known to significantly impact fertility. The damage was so extensive that I had to undergo surgery where doctors "scraped off" all the growths in my uterus. (

It took a long time for my body to heal after the surgery. As I lie in my bed, unable to get up on my own, I remember thinking how this wasn't at all what I pictured the road to pregnancy to be like. Still, I trusted my body. I knew it wasn't going to let me down.

Emily Loftiss
Courtesy of Emily Loftiss

Since I had struggled to conceive naturally for more than a year, the next step for us was to start undergoing intrauterine insemination (IUI), a fertility treatment that involves placing sperm inside a woman's uterus to facilitate fertilization. We underwent two procedures, in June and September 2018, and they both failed. At this point, my doctor recommended I jump straight to in vitro fertilization (IVF) since more IUIs likely weren't going to work — but my insurance wouldn't cover it. Based on our plan, I had to undergo at least three IUI procedures before "graduating" to IVF. Even though my doctor was convinced that another IUI wasn't going to work, I refused to go into it with a negative mindset. If I had ever paid attention to statistics and allowed them to dissuade me from doing things, I would be nowhere in my life. I've always known that I was going to be the exception, so I kept the faith.

To maximize our success, we decided to make sure my endometriosis wasn't going to be an issue — but, unfortunately, it had come back. In November 2018, I underwent yet another surgery to remove more polyps and scar tissue that had accumulated in my abdomen. As soon as I recovered from that, I underwent my third and final IUI procedure. As much as I wanted it to work, it didn't. Even still, I held on to the fact that IVF was still an option.

Beginning the IVF Process

We stepped into 2019 ready to dive into IVF... but I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel lost. I wanted to do everything I possibly could to up my chances of getting pregnant, but the influx of information about what I should and shouldn't be doing was overwhelming. I had a neverending list of questions for my doctors, but there's only so much you can cover in a 30-minute appointment. The internet is also not a very helpful place because it just makes you panic and feel even more isolated. So, I said goodbye to Googling all things related to infertility and IVF just for peace of mind.

In January of that year, I started the IVF process, which meant I began injecting myself with hormones to boost my egg production. Then I had my egg retrieval in February. Somehow, I had 17 healthy eggs — enough to work with, doctors reassured me. The next week was a waiting game. All my eggs were fertilized and placed in Petri dishes to be observed. One by one, they started to die. Every day I got a phone call telling me, "Your chances of having a baby just went from 'x' percent to 'x' percent" — and those numbers kept dropping. I couldn't handle it, so I diverted the calls to my husband. The best thing for me was to be blissfully unaware. (

Somehow, I finally learned that I had eight embryos. So, next came the implantation process. Normally, people have fewer healthy eggs, and only one or two viable embryos with chances at implantation. So, I considered myself extremely lucky and was so proud of my body. In late February, I was implanted with the first egg, and it was smooth sailing. Following the procedure, doctors tell you not to take a pregnancy test, just because it's too early to tell if the pregnancy will stick. So what did I do? I took a pregnancy test — and it came back positive. I remember sitting in the bathroom by myself sobbing uncontrollably with my cat, taking pictures of the long-awaited double lines, already planning my pregnancy announcement. Later that night, when my husband came home, we took another test together. But this time, it came back negative.

Emily Loftiss

All my eggs were fertilized and placed in Petri dishes to be observed. One by one, they started to die.

— Emily Loftiss
Emily Loftiss
Courtesy of Emily Loftiss

My nerves were shot. The next day we went back into the fertility clinic and after a few tests they confirmed I was pregnant, but they wanted me to come back a week later to be certain. That week may have been the longest in my life. Every second felt like a minute and every day felt like years. But in my heart, I believed everything was going to be okay. I could do this. I had come so far and my body had been through so much. Surely it could handle this, too. Around that time, I had just gotten a dream job at QVC and was going through training. Finally, after all of these years, family and career were blending together. It was all beyond my wildest dreams. But when I went back into the doctor's office later that week, we learned that my pregnancy wasn't viable and it ended in a miscarriage.

I have never had ill will toward anyone who has blinked and gotten pregnant. But when you're struggling with infertility and have put your body through so much pain and misery in the hopes of one day holding your baby, you just want to talk to people who are in the trenches with you. You want to talk to people who've laid on the ground and sobbed inconsolably in their partner's arms. Luckily, I had friends who've been in the same boat, and that's who I called late at night when I couldn't sleep. At times, felt like I couldn't breathe, because I was at such a loss. During this time, I very quickly weeded out the people in my life who were selfish, toxic, and only thought about themselves, which I suppose was a blessing in disguise, but made me feel even more isolated.

In April, we started our second round of IVF. Again, I was put on hormone medication to stimulate egg production when my doctors decided to check my endometriosis again. Some studies show that the increase of estrogen during the egg stimulation process can cause endometriosis to flare up, which was sadly true for me.

Once again, I was riddled with polyps, so we had to stop fertility treatments to do a third surgery. Fertility medications make you feel all over the place emotionally. You feel so out of control — and just the thought of having to stop and go through that again was gut-wrenching. But we wanted my body to be as prepped as possible to hold a pregnancy, so the surgery was necessary. (

Once my polyps were removed, and I recovered, we started my third round of IVF. In June, they implanted two embryos and one of them was successful. I was officially pregnant again. I tried not to get overly excited this time around, but each time we went into the doctor's office, my hCG levels (pregnancy hormone levels) were doubling and tripling. Six weeks after implantation, I started to feel pregnant. My body was changing. I felt bloated and I was exhausted. At this point, I knew this one was working. Once we passed the 12-week mark, it was like the weight of the world lifted from our shoulders. We could loudly and proudly say, "We're having a baby!"

Emily Loftiss
Courtesy of Emily Loftiss

Having Our Son — and Dealing with More Challenges

I loved every second of pregnancy. I just floated around, happy as a little clam, and was the happiest pregnant lady you've ever seen. Whatsmore, my career was going splendidly. As I inched toward my due date, I was feeling so good that I planned to go back to work only four weeks after delivery. I was slated for a job that was sort of a "right of passage" in the TV world, and I couldn't pass it up. My husband warned me that it was too soon and a plethora of things could go wrong, but I was adamant.

I had dreamed of the moment when I could say, "The baby's coming!" whether that meant my water broke or I started having contractions. But instead, I needed to be induced because doctors were concerned about the amount of swelling I was experiencing. I wasn't going to get my aha! moment, but I was okay with that. Soon, I was going to hold my son in my arms and that's all that mattered. But then, the epidural didn't work. Needless to say, childbirth was not enjoyable for me and not what I expected whatsoever — but it was worth it. On February 22nd, 2020, our son Dalton was born, and he was the most perfect thing I had ever laid eyes on.

By the time we brought him home, the COVID-19 pandemic was ramping up. A week later, my husband begrudgingly left for a two-day work trip and I stayed home with the baby and my mom. Later that day, he FaceTimed me to check in and the first thing he said was: "What the f**k is wrong with your face?". Confused, I put the baby down, went to the mirror, and the whole left side of my face was completely paralyzed and drooping. I screamed for my mom, while my husband yelled at me to go to the ER through the phone because I could be having a stroke.

Emily Loftiss
Courtesy of Emily Loftiss

So, I hailed an Uber alone, leaving my seven-day-old baby with mom, freaking out about what was happening to me. I walk into the ER bawling and told someone that I couldn't move my face. Within seconds, I was rushed into a room, 15 people were around me, taking my clothes off and hooking me up to machines. Through my tears, I barely had the courage to ask what was going on. After what seems like hours, the nurses told me that I wasn't having a stroke, but that I had Bell's Palsy, a condition where you experience sudden weakness in your facial muscles for unknown reasons. I had never heard of it, but I was told that this type of facial paralysis can sometimes occur because of pregnancy and is often induced by stress or trauma. Given my traumatic delivery and everything my body had been through over the past three years, that sounded about right.

After four hours at the hospital, they sent me home with some medication and told me to tape my eye shut every night when I went to sleep since it wouldn't close on its own. Most times, the paralysis that comes with Bell's Palsy is temporary, taking up to six months to fully recover, but sometimes, the damage is permanent. Either way, doctors couldn't tell me if this was something I was going to have to live with forever.

Emily Loftiss

I was so happy to finally have my dream baby but, at the same time, I also felt like the joy of that was being ripped out of my hands.

— Emily Loftiss

Here I am, totally unprepared to leave my newborn, with milk all over me, and now, half my face is paralyzed. Meanwhile, my husband is out of town, the world is freaking out about a global pandemic, and I'm supposed to be back at work on TV in four weeks. Why was this happening to me? Was this the next chapter of my life? Will my husband still love me if I look like this forever? Is my career over?

I was so happy to finally have my dream baby but, at the same time, I also felt like the joy of that was being ripped out of my hands. I had pictured the beginning of motherhood to be sitting at home, nesting, loving on my son, and being a mama bear. Instead, I was looking for ways to cure my Bell's Palsy. I heard through the grapevine that acupuncture can be helpful, so I started that. A Mediterranean diet has shown some benefits, so I tried that. I was also on Prednisone, a steroid that reduces facial nerve inflammation in patients with Bell's Palsy. Still, about a week after getting diagnosed, my face hadn't improved much. There was no way I was going to be on set in a few weeks, so I was replaced for the show that I had dreamed of being on. (

Somehow, though, I had to let it go and shift my priorities. My career had been a huge part of my existence, but I had to learn to compromise. I had to ask myself what really mattered to me and after a lot of self-reflection, I knew that was having a healthy marriage and having a healthy, happy child.

Moving Forward with a New Outlook

Luckily for me, as each week passed, my face slowly returned to normal. All in all, it took more than six months for me to fully recover from my Bell's Palsy, and it could come back if I don't control my anxiety and stress. If the condition has taught me anything, it's that health is the most important thing in your life. If you don't have your health, you have nothing. My story is proof that everything can change instantly. Now, being a mom, I know that taking care of myself physically and emotionally is non-negotiable, not only for me but for my son.

Emily Loftiss
Courtesy of Emily Loftiss

Looking back at what it took to have my son, I would do it all again. I've learned that building your dream family may not go exactly how you want it to, but you will get to your final destination. You just have to be willing to go with the ups and downs and the roller coaster. For anyone experiencing infertility struggles right now, the number one thing I want you to know is that you're not alone. If you're struggling to find ways to cope, the best thing for me was sharing my grief with a tribe of women who understood what I was going through. I was lucky enough to have friends in my personal circle who were there for me, but I also connected with hundreds of women on social media after sharing my journey with them.

Also, try to let go of the fear that you're going to mess something up. I know that's easier said than done, but I remember worrying about everything to a debilitating degree: Should I work out? Will it screw up my chances of getting pregnant? Am I taking my medication correctly? Am I doing everything I can possibly do to make this work? Questions like this were always swirling around in my mind, keeping me awake at night. My advice would be to treat yourself with some grace, don't be afraid to move your body, and do things that you need to take care of your mental health. The thing that got me through was keeping my eye on the prize, and the prize was my son. (

Emily Loftiss

Today, my motto is to chase joy. It's a decision I have to make every single day of my life.

— Emily Loftiss

Having a paralyzed face from Bell's Palsy helped put things in check very quickly and the same goes for becoming a mother. All the things that I fretted about and worried about feel so insignificant now. Who cares if I didn't snap back to my pre-baby body? Who cares if I had to put certain parts of my career on hold? Life is so much more than that.

Yes, there are times when life can be excruciatingly challenging, and you have to sit with your emotions, but you have to pull yourself out of that dark hole. The longer you stay there, the longer it will take for you to get out. That's why today, my motto is to chase joy. It's a decision I have to make every single day of my life. You can always find something to grumble about or you can look for things to make you happy. It can be something as little as a delicious smoothie or the sunshine that day, but choosing to be joyful every day is a game-changer. While you can't decide what happens to you, you can decide how you deal with it.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles