Allison’s Story of Hope
I’d like to start off by saying to any of you reading this that struggle with fertility or miscarriage, my heart goes out to you. No matter where you are in your journey, my prayers are with you.
I realize that this is a story that needs to be shared more often and I have been encouraged by several friends and mentors to do so. People are afraid to talk about miscarriage and honestly, it is uncomfortable. But the fact is so many families have gone through this, yet often have to do so feeling very alone. It’s easy for me to share the happy things but I don’t think it’s fair to pretend that the struggles do not exist. I’ve experienced loss and grief three times over and I’ve decided I’m ready to share my story and hope that in doing so, I can help those touched by miscarriage feel less alone. I plan to share with you the anger and the disbelief but also the hope, encouragement and love I continue to feel.
One thing that has been so encouraging to me in navigating this unexpected journey is reading other’s stories. People like Jenna Kutcher, Danielle Walker and my friend Liz Shaw have been so open and vulnerable about sharing their stories in real time. I had been saving my story to share once I could lead with good news. I have a vision of me with a big ole’ belly talking about how excited we are and then opening up and discussing my miscarriages. But I’m not there yet. And I’ve decided to share now in hopes that my story can be of comfort to know that if you are struggling, you are not alone. Selfishly, my hope is that in sharing, it will also make me feel less alone.
Because each of my miscarriages has been very different, I will share each one separately and what helped me each time. I want to thank you for your continued love, support and prayers.
I have also shared my story in episodes 2-5 of the Miscarriage Hope Desk Podcast.
Miscarriage #1 (SHOCK)
It was a Monday afternoon and my husband and I had just wrapped up a long weekend at the Paleo FX conference in Austin and had spent that morning at an entrepreneur’s workshop. Before heading home (we live ~1 hour outside of Austin), we went to one of our favorite restaurants in Austin, Elizabeth St Cafe. After our pork & shrimp crepe and chicken meatball pho, we were lingering on the front patio, deciding if we needed to run errands or just head straight home… when all of a sudden I felt something.
Miscarriage #2 (GRIEF)
It took 4 months and we were pregnant again and I felt confident that this time was our time.
In mid-September 2017 at about 6 weeks pregnant, my husband and I attended an entrepreneur’s conference in Utah. I was tired (yay!), my boobs ached (yay!), I felt my hands often resting on my belly and I happily swapped the glasses of wine with water.
I arrived home solo, as my husband flew to Colorado for a separate work trip. On Saturday, I had planned a hike with my friend. Before the hike, I noticed a little bit of blood when I went to the bathroom. After some obsessive googling, I knew this could be totally normal and read that light bleeding or spotting is common during the first trimester. I went ahead and took off for our hike, a bit nervous, but optimistic it was nothing. That night I went to bed with the same feeling, even as the spotting continued. But by the morning, there was more blood and I was nervous.
Pregnancy (Surviving Morning ‘ALL DAY’ Sickness)
Before heading into our third pregnancy, I took a few months off from trying and gave my body time to recover from the previous miscarriages (here and here). I’ll write more about this later, but in addition to doing several blood tests, I was doing things like Mayan abdominal massage, regular acupuncture appointments, chiropractic work, supplements, eating a clean diet and more.
Around February we decided to start trying again. It took a few months, but the day after I returned from a very relaxing trip to Costa Rica, we conceived. I had such a hunch this would be a healthy pregnancy.
Miscarriage #3 (DISBELIEF)
I remember during the car ride mentioning to my husband how positive I was about the appointment. As we chatted, I decided I was 98-99% confident. I was still throwing up and I knew that was a sign of a healthy pregnancy! At this point I was ~11 weeks along and was excited to go in and see the heartbeat again (we’d already seen it twice, so I was feeling less nervous knowing we’d already seen it!).
When we got in to our appointment, the nurse got out a small device so we could hear the heartbeat. When we didn’t hear anything, I was slightly nervous, but mostly excited that this meant an ultrasound (although I try to limit ultrasounds to when absolutely necessary I also love being able to see the baby in there!). When we got to the ultrasound room, I saw the baby right away. But then I also saw a straight line where I thought the heart beat should be. It felt like an eternity and no one said anything. So finally, I broke the silence… “that’s the baby, right?”, “yes” the tech replied. More silence. “But there’s no heartbeat?” I barely squeaked out… I didn’t want to ask, but I also needed to know. I looked at my husband and saw the disbelief and shock on his face that I felt in my heart.
Miscarriage #4 (SURPISE)
This story is very difficult for me to write.
I found out I was pregnant again! This was very much unplanned and the first full cycle after my previous miscarriage. That did not stop me from being overly enthusiastic and to start, once again, planning out the rest of my soon-to-be-a-mommy life.
The doctor ran some bloodwork to check the status of my pregnancy and the next day my numbers came back… an HCG of 56 and a Progesterone of 3. I was devastated. Like crushed. This was my fourth miscarriage and the earliest. (I was only about 5 weeks when the miscarriage was confirmed and started bleeding a few days later), but in some ways it was/is the most devastating.
All of the previous miscarriages seemed to bring me and my husband closer together. But after this one, I started pushing him away.
A New Plan (The Part with a Happy Ending)
After my third miscarriage, I was already feeling “over” the trying to conceive game and also was unsure if I could handle more loss. And while some ways I had invested less time into my fourth pregnancy, the quick defeat was almost more than I could stand. So at this point, I was feeling very done with this process. I felt as if I was on a downward spiral and I could feel it impacting other areas of my life. I didn’t want to keep trying only to get the same result.
At multiple points along this journey, I have told my husband, “there will be a point when I’m done, when I can’t take this anymore, I don’t know when that will be (miscarriage 6 or 16?), but I’ll know when I’m there.” Well, I had reached my point.
Miscarriage #5 (AGAIN?!)
As amazing as it was to have our son, we also knew our journey was not over. My husband and I have always envisioned having multiple kids and knew that we wanted more than one… Very shortly after our son was born, I got yet another positive pregnancy test. I have to admit, I was thrilled! My mind once again went to the place of, oh wow, this is how it is going to happen!
Everyone always says, as soon as you adopt, you’ll have kids! It’s so easy after you adopt (and they always have at least one example of this happening). I have to admit, these stories did give me hope and when we made the decision in the back of my mind, I hoped that this would be our story, that once we had a baby in our arms, everything else would fall into place and happen easily.
IVF (MORE DISBELIEF)
In the spring of 2019 we decided to take our first steps towards continuing to build our family and for us, we sat down the path of figuring out if biological children were in our future. We were open to ideas and wanted to continue doing as much testing as possible to avoid recurring miscarriage.
We met with yet another IVF clinic and I instantly did not like the feel of this one and felt they were pushing me into IVF but for no other reason than most miscarriages were due to chromosomal issues, therefore if we went the IVF route and tested embryos we could avoid this. We had only had the option to do testing on one of our pregnancies (the 3rd miscarriage) and it came back with no chromosomal issues. So as you can imagine, their reasoning was tough for me to follow.
IVF, Continued (SURPRISE?)
We finally got to a place where we decided we would eventually give IVF one more go, but would first do a full 90-120 protocol of healthy eating supplements, like really go for it. Up until this point, I had been doing most of the things, but because this journey had gone on for 3+ years now, I knew there was probably more I could do. So starting January 1 of 2020, we both fully committed to doing everything we could over the next few months and to give this one more try.
BABY #6 (VANISHING TWIN)
At this point in my story, we are caught up to the current year of 2020. It has been an interesting time to be pregnant!
A few things to note about pregnancy after going through recurrent miscarriage. The first trimester was HARD for multiple reasons. Of course, it is difficult to believe the pregnancy will actually take.
At the time of writing this, I am currently in my 3rd trimester! Getting past the stage of being able to technically have a miscarriage felt like a huge milestone. This pregnancy continues to be a combination of joy and excitement coupled with fear and anxiety, but the further along I get, the more I am able to relax into the idea that I am indeed pregnant!
I also want to backtrack a bit on some history of Miscarriage Hope Desk. This project has been on my heart for a long time.