Pregnancy is a challenge that a lot of lesbian couples know well. Alexis and Jessica Casano-Antonellis know this a little too well. Their pregnancy journey was documented in Lizzie Gottlieb’s 2012 film, Romeo Romeo.
The documentary will now be nationally broadcasted as part of World Channel’s America ReFramed series on March 22. We recently spoke with Alexis and Jessica about the emotional and financial tolls of their journey, dismissive doctors, the invasive nature of the film and what’s happened since the cameras turned off.
Warning: Spoilers ahead
AfterEllen.com: Who came up with the idea to film your pregnancy adventures?
Jessica Casano-Antonellis: Lizzie [Gottlieb]. Do you want to give the backstory, Lexy?
Alexis Casano-Antonellis: You can give the backstory.
JCA: Okay. Well, Lexy was Lizzie’s nanny for many years, and we ended up at one point, right after we got married back in 2007, moving into a garden apartment she and her husband had. We had just gotten married, and we were just starting to think about having kids, and she was like, “Can I just start filming you guys? Would you be okay with that?”
It sort of was right around when Prop 8 was going on. It first started as a film that was just going to be in support of gay rights and gay marriage and the process of two women having a baby, but then, as you know seeing Romeo Romeo, we ended up having major fertility issues and the movie kind of decided to focus more on infertility and the process and what that means.
AE: Is she the mom of the two kids in the movie?
ACA: That’s right.
JCA: She did IVF herself. Of course, she never wanted us to have to go through that, but once we were in that it actually was also a topic that she felt had not been explored enough on film and there wasn’t enough awareness around what women go through that have fertility issues. So it was something that she was personally really passionate about as well, having been there herself.
AE: That explains why she wanted to do the film, but why did you two agree to be filmed? Did you believe it would shed light on an important issue?
JCA: For sure. Back in 2008, I think Massachusetts was the only state that still you could get married in. And that’s where me and Lexy got married–I’m from up there. So at first, when it was just the process of two women, me and Lexy felt very much like there wasn’t a whole lot out there for us even when we were just starting off the whole process. We didn’t even have any resources to go to. We had a few friends that had–you know, friends of friends that were lesbians that had done this and could give us some advice, but other than that there really wasn’t a whole lot. So we were like, “Yeah, totally.”
We love Lizzie. We felt like she’s a part of our family so having her in our house, it didn’t feel invasive. We knew she wasn’t going to put anything on film we weren’t comfortable having there. But we’re also very much open books.