Alison is a registered dietitian, board-certified in oncology nutrition, and a cancer thriver. Her expertise in oncology nutrition and personal experience with her own cancer diagnosis and its treatment provide her with the unique perspective of being able to relate to her clients on an entirely different level. Her content is consistently focused on evidence-based guidelines and seeks to increase the awareness of the power of nutrition to complement traditional cancer therapies.
Later that morning, we called the doctor’s office to inform them of our positive test. The staff asked me the date of my last period so they could estimate when I would be 10–12 weeks along to come in for my first prenatal visit with the doctor. I briefly gave them the rundown, informing them I didn’t really know when my last period was. Regardless, we were set up for our initial visit with a prenatal nurse at the office a couple of weeks later.
That same morning, I asked Patrick if I could tell my twin sister Lauren our great news. When Patrick married me, he knew he was essentially marrying Lauren too, as our bond is unbreakable. Patrick laughed and replied, “Of course. I figured you’d want to.”
That evening, after work, Lauren and I spent some time together looking at bridesmaid dresses for her upcoming wedding in October, when I would be her matron of honor. I showed her a few I liked that were obviously maternity dresses. She looked at them and said, “They look nice. Wait…are you trying to tell me something?!” I nodded, and Lauren quickly hugged me so tight knowing what a journey it had been to get to this point. Lauren was the only person we told for the first few weeks.
A couple of weeks later, Patrick and I sat in the waiting room before our first prenatal appointment, when we saw our ob-gyn walk past. We excitedly waved to her, and she greeted us with an excited hi. During our visit with the prenatal nurse, we were asked if it would be okay if my ob-gyn’s nurse could stop in. As she entered the room, she smiled so big with tears in her eyes. She mentioned that our doctor had told her she saw us in the waiting room, and they quickly checked our schedule and saw we were there for a prenatal visit. It was amazing to see and hear others excited for our pregnancy as they were on the journey with us. We were happy to start seeing our doctor and her nurse more regularly, but this time for pregnancy.
During the appointment, the nurse wanted to schedule us for an internal ultrasound to pinpoint a due date. Although I was pretty confident of when we had conceived (with only one positive ovulation test, it wasn’t tough to figure out!), the prenatal nurse wanted to double-check.
The following week we had that ultrasound. The tech was amazing in explaining what she was looking for, what measurements were being taken, etc. But by the end of the visit, she sat me up and said the words no parent-to-be wants to hear: “Baby isn’t looking the way baby should look at this point.”
I started to tremble again, just as I had a few weeks before when I took that positive pregnancy test. My heart began to pound. This time, it wasn’t from excitement. Patrick and I looked at each other and waited for the tech to continue.
“Fifty percent of cases like these will end in miscarriage. Fifty percent continue on to be a viable pregnancy,” she explained.
Embarrassingly, I became light-headed and pale. The tech and Patrick quickly detected my dizziness and laid me down on the exam chair again. I still don’t know what came over me, but I believe the scare was something I certainly wasn’t ready for. The tech grabbed me a juice for some quick sugar. The protocol was to return for another ultrasound in 10 days. At that point, we would see if our baby was growing appropriately. Just as any mother would, I asked the tech if there was anything I could do to improve our chances. She simply replied no, with the exception of abstaining from drugs and alcohol.
We quietly left the doctor’s office and scheduled the next appointment. I think we were both numb. Neither of us said anything and simply walked out hand in hand to the parking lot.
On the car ride home, I told my husband, “I know they said we can’t do anything specific to make sure this baby is healthy, but for my own peace of mind, I need to eat as healthfully as possible. Whole food, plant-based.” Even though I had already been doing this and had fully changed my diet, saying it aloud made me feel as though I was proactively doing something. Doing everything I could.
The next day, we were having dinner with my entire family. My sister and brother-in-law were in from Washington, DC, and we originally planned on telling my family that evening since we had the opportunity to tell everyone in person. After a short discussion with Patrick, it was an easy decision for us to continue with our plans to tell my family about our pregnancy. Despite the generally accepted idea of not telling others until the 12-week mark, we knew we would need the support of those we loved if the pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, and we decided to keep our plans.
As the story goes, when my parents told my maternal grandparents they were pregnant, they gifted my grandmother a figurine that said “No. 1 Grandma.” My aunt and uncle had kept it since my grandmother passed, and had given it to my sisters and me for when we could share our own news. I had the figurine in my possession and planned to surprise my mom with it.
That evening, after dinner, the entire family was surrounded at the table. My mom had recently announced her retirement, and we decided to use the event as an excuse to give her an early gift. As my mom unwrapped it, all of the siblings knew exactly what it was. My mom smiled big, but quiet, showing the audience the figurine as my dad shouted from the other end of the table, “What is it?! I can’t see it!” We shared what it said, and my dad immediately clapped his hands and asked if my sister-in-law was pregnant with her third. As the whole family reminded my dad the gift was from Patrick and me, he pointed at us across the table and began to cry.
As everyone offered their heartfelt congratulations, it was time to tell our family about our baby’s current state. We asked for positive thoughts and many prayers, and of course, we had their full support.
About a week later, after constantly worrying and thinking about our baby, we nervously returned for our second ultrasound. Patrick sat at my side and held my hand tight. The procedure began. I tried to force myself to look away from the screen as I knew I would try to make my own conclusions. This ultrasound was shorter than the last. I thought to myself, “This can’t be good.” But the tech quickly put us at ease and announced, “Baby is doing great and showing the development we would like to see.”
The largest sigh of relief came over us. We had a due date and were another day closer to a healthy baby.
A week or two later, my in-laws came to town for a visit. Unfortunately, we live about six hours away from each other, and aren’t able to see each other as much as we’d like between work schedules and the distance. We were excited to tell them in person that they would become grandparents again. This time, we presented my mother-in-law with a St. Patrick’s Day gift in return for all the greeting cards and gift cards she sends for each holiday. In the bag was a piece of home decor Patrick originally gave his grandma Gin (Virginia), when he was young. It read “Grandma’s Kitchen.” Patrick’s aunt had given it to us when Grandma Gin had passed a few years earlier. We’d planned to save it for this moment.
My mother-in-law opened the gift and quickly thanked us, obviously not quite knowing its real purpose. Inside the bag was also a small book titled “Grandma” with an ultrasound picture labeled “Baby Tierney.” It took a moment for her to make the connection, but finally she looked up and said, “Are you pregnant?” We nodded and tears of joy came all around with big hugs and congratulations. My in-laws were aware of our journey but respectfully asked minimal questions as time went on. My husband and I were so excited to be able to give both of our parents another grandchild to spoil. But it was still early, and I wanted to make sure I did everything I could to ensure the baby’s health.
Head over [here] to continue and read the final chapter of our infertility story.