In 2016, Allison and her husband Russell became pregnant for the first time. Tragically, that pregnancy ended in miscarriage. After two and a half years of trying to have another baby, they were unable to get pregnant.
In October of 2016, my husband Russell and I got pregnant for the first time. We weren't really trying, but we weren't avoiding a pregnancy either. Honestly, in my mid-twenties, I didn't know if I wanted to have a baby.
But the second I saw the double pink line, everything changed. In an instant, I knew I was supposed to be a mom and it was the strongest feeling I had ever felt.
But about 6-8 weeks in, I started bleeding. I compulsively googled the differences between implantation bleeding and miscarriage for over a week. But I knew the night I saw Amy Schumer's standup show in Austin, Texas that it was a miscarriage — there was just too much blood.
After confirming with the doctor, I was numb. My brain refused to process the loss. I threw myself into work and pretended like nothing happened — super healthy, I know, but I wasn't ready to talk or even think about it yet. The sadness, the feeling like you did something wrong, like there was something wrong with you — it was all too much.
To make matters worse, during a checkup at the end of December, my hCG levels spiked, meaning the miscarriage had turned into a molar pregnancy. Simply put, molar pregnancies occur when fetal cells remain in the body after a miscarriage and start to grow. Obviously, it's not a baby, but the cells can grow into a tumor that can turn cancerous.
My doctor recommended removing the molar pregnancy that day. What I thought would be a simple follow-up appointment turned into an un-sedated abortion. All to remove cells from a baby that had already died a month ago. The whole procedure was 90 seconds, but even with a deadening shot, the pain was excruciating — so much so that I fainted on the table.
Looking back, I think this is when I experienced depression for the first time in my life. I knew I needed professional help when I would catch myself staring at a blank wall for hours, unable to form a thought. Luckily, I found a therapist who specializes in loss and PTSD. And thank goodness I had her because I didn't realize we were about to embark on a two and a half year infertility journey.
I believe pregnancy is tied to your state of mind. Much like the old adage “a watched pot never boils,” it was like this for me getting pregnant. Obsessing and letting it become all-consuming meant my body failed me continuously. The Ava bracelet led to ovulation tests which became daily temperature tracking which led to Clomid and then three failed IUIs. I thought about getting pregnant every minute of every day for over two and a half years.
When we learned of the third failed IUI, I think that's when I hit rock bottom. Even with my therapist, I could not see how this would end happily for us, and I lost hope. I found myself talking to God and the universe. Not necessarily praying, but a daily conversation of asking what we were supposed to do. I knew deep in my heart I was meant to be a mom, so should we start looking at adoption? Foster to adopt? Become foster parents? I was lost.
Then one day, I got a phone call from my sister that would change my life: she heard an advertisement for CARE Fertility on the radio and told me about Dr. Doody and effortless IVF®. My husband and I had considered traditional IVF, but were told by our insurance company that it wasn’t covered and we’d have to pay out of pocket, which we didn’t have the means to do. effortless IVF® is a much more affordable option. We had hope again!
As we were filling out paperwork at CARE Fertility, the scheduler asked why we weren’t doing regular IVF. I told her about my conversations with the insurance company and she told us that we were misled. IVF was covered if it was coded under ART: assisted reproductive technology. I wasn’t using the “right” nomenclature. I had called once a month for several months and was told no, and then all of a sudden, IVF was covered and we're moving forward.
If that's not the universe at work, I have no idea what is.
Dr. Doody was able to retrieve nine eggs and six were fertilized successfully. We froze six high-quality embryos, and I finally felt at peace. I knew in my heart we would get pregnant. So much so that I wanted to give my body a break and take a month off from the hormones before starting preparation for the egg transfer. This was very out of character for the impatient, all consuming, baby-obsessed person I had become, but I needed the break. My husband and I decided to go to Europe for a month to decompress.
We arrived back home and we were ready to move forward with the transfer process. I was so excited to become a mother. Prior to egg transfer, you have to take a blood test to make sure you’re not already pregnant. Well, miracles are real because guess what?! I was pregnant!!!
Our doctor was just as shocked as we were — she said this had only happened two other times in all her years of practice. She called this phenomenon, “spontaneous conception.”
This "spontaneous conception" went on to become our rainbow baby son, Noah, who was born on May 28, 2019. Noah means peace, which became my daily mantra every single day when I was pregnant: Peace to get over the trauma of the first pregnancy, peace for my body to accept a new pregnancy and peace for my brain to not worry about losing another baby.
I don't know if the hole in my heart from losing our first baby will ever fully heal. When I would stare into Noah's perfect face, I thought about what it would be like to have a two and a half year old running around: Who would they be? What would they look like? How would they be as a big brother or sister to Noah? But then I’d remind myself how that experience shaped me as a mother and helped Russ and I grow into the best possible parents for our little guy, and I’m at peace.
Russ and I froze the six viable embryos, and implanted our healthiest one in October of 2020. We welcomed our baby girl, Davie, in July of this year.
The first time through my fertility journey, I didn't talk about it at all and didn't prioritize my mental health whatsoever. My experience with Noah changed me, and during my pregnancy with Davie, I became an open book. I even started a new Instagram account, @be.the.boost, and created a community for women going through fertility struggles and the IVF process. I talk with women from all over the country and it is so fulfilling. I also created “Be the Boost” IVF boxes so friends and family can send their loved ones a meaningful gift while they navigate through the process.
The first experience brought me and Russ closer as a couple, for sure. We were in the trenches together. Throughout the second experience, I opened up so much and allowed my family and friends to learn and experience everything by my side.
If I could go back in time, I would have called CARE Fertility much sooner! We just kept going through the motions and didn't realize we had the power to go directly to IVF if we wanted to. It would have saved us two and a half years of pain and heartbreak.
Don't give up. Talk about your feelings, and let others in to help you.
Don't get discouraged if the egg transfer doesn't work the first time. Your chances increase with each transfer, so keep trying! You're in literally the best hands in Texas with Dr. Doody.
Ask a ton of questions, and most all, take control of your journey. You don't have to wait for permission to get help, or move onto IVF — if that's what you want to do, do it. It’s your fertility journey, and no one else’s.