It's time.  I wasn't really sure if I was going to make this a public announcement or just keep it between close friends and family....


It's time.  I wasn't really sure if I was going to make this a public announcement or just keep it between close friends and family.  Today I decided to write about it, because I really need my free therapy blogging tool right now.  Today has turned into months of just a little at a time and writing when I get a minute or just feel extra down.

We found out we were pregnant at the beginning of November, the Tuesday before our 10th anniversary.  The next week was sort of surreal.  You know, it just takes awhile to really believe you are pregnant.  Then I started spotting, not much, just a little.  No cramping.  My midwife advised to just take it easy, no running, maybe just a walk, don't push myself.  I kept spotting for almost two weeks.  I called the OB so I could go ahead and do my first visit and do blood work and all that stuff and mentioned the spotting.  They said to come in at nine weeks to do an ultrasound just to make sure everything was ok, but no panic.  This was all a little difficult to deal with, being a bit of a control freak.  Then, the night before Thanksgiving I laid in bed and prayed for God to please take my worry away.  I prayed for faith and peace and told God that I knew He was in control and prayed to please help me stop worrying because I wanted to enjoy this pregnancy and my blessings.  The next morning I stopped spotting!  No more spots.  I have not quite found a comfortable way to interpret how that prayer was answered but I have found gratitude for a Thanksgiving with my family that was full of hope and excitement about next year rather than full of worry and fear. 

In the next week or so I found out that a couple I adore was expecting, only two weeks behind me!  I had to tell them that we were pregnant too.  So exciting!  I went in for that nine week ultrasound witha  heavy heart though and I remember praying in the bathroom as I changed into the gown.  Then it happened.  December 13th we found no heartbeat and I only measured at about six weeks. I cried on the table and even in my sadness felt so badly for the ultrasound tech who was powerless to help or even explain anything. We were sent straight to my doctor's office. Here's an excerpt of that experience that I wrote on my phone through tears trying not to look up too often and scare the other patients.

As I sit here listening to the 19 year old high school couple raving about their baby due in June, I wonder why my baby didn't grow. Why did my baby that I wanted and prayed for and tried for stop developing at 6 weeks? The proud 39 year old grandma won't stop talking about their ultrasound. The children are giggling and cuddling and my husband recognizes one since he's a high school teacher after all.

Why does my doctor make me sit here listening to them while I wait to schedule my D&C? I'm selfish, I know. This just seems like purgatory. 

Thank you, Jesus, I'm in a private room that is much more fitting for the mood. It's sterile and cold with scratchy paper, fluorescent lights, and the smell of hand sanitizer. There are still hints of the joy I should have, but they are fewer and harder to find.

Maybe the plea to the nurses helped. "I have thirty minutes to get to my master's thesis defense." 
[loud gasp] "Oh, let me check!" 
I was back within minutes. 

Let me just say that even in the midst of that bitterness and frustration, I still felt glad for those kids that they have support from at least one mom and that their baby was being celebrated. How many teen pregnancies are mourned instead? 

We had to wait two weeks after that to confirm the miscarriage. I did defend my master's project and that day was so strange. I kept getting congrats Facebook messages after Jason posted about my project, all while on the phone with the few folks who knew we were pregnant, crying. We had to make it through Christmas with family and our kiddos during the two week waiting period. No more spotting, no pain, tiny bits of hope that maybe some crazy crazy miraculous thing could happen and there would be a heartbeat. Two weeks of no running, just in case. Eating, crying, praying, denying, accepting, repeat. 

Then it was the day before my birthday when we confirmed. Most of my tears had been spent by then, so I mostly just felt empty. So strange to compare the feelings walking into the same clinic, getting into the gown, hopping onto the table, and searching the fuzzy screen. I went out to celebrate my birthday with friends and family the next night. Only a few knew, and I had three delicious dark beers. 

It was another week before I had the actual D&C. I lived in terror of miscarrying on my own while also wishing I would so I could avoid the surgery and further damage to my uterus (I had a rough D&C after Charlie was born due to a detached piece of placenta). The surgery went "well" according to my doctor. My recovery was pretty quick. My staff and my boss at work were precious and understanding. Almost no female friend of mine has not experienced this loss. It is pretty ridiculous really. 

I don't know why I didn't talk about it. We asked for prayers privately through the prayer list at church. We cried together. Maybe a part of me didn't want to hear through the dozens of others who have miscarried. I think that a selfish, terrible, shallow part of me wanted to just own this loss and make it mine, nobody else's, unlike any other, mine, worse, more terrible, so sad, and just mine. Another piece of me felt like I didn't want the attention because I know women who have held a stillborn baby in their arms and buried them. I know families who have lost children that were whole, alive, with personalities and little beating hearts. My baby's heart may never have beaten, not even once. Another part of me (so many parts!) felt selfish considering the three beautiful babies I have while I know women begging God for one. 

The best thing that came out of anyone's mouth besides of course, "I love you," "that fucking sucks friend, I'm so so sorry," and "what do you need?" ....I have no idea how to punctuate this sentence from here... was a friend at work saying,  "I know this sounds terribly stupid, and I don't mean it like this, it's just just have such a passion for mamas and birth and pregnancy and I just can't imagine how much more fully you will be able to identify with women in all stages of that journey now." 

That was a truth I could use and take hope in and see value in. It made me cry still, but a merciful cry of acknowledging my refinement through difficult experiences. 

I am writing all this and thinking of a way to close. I'm thinking of some justification of why to post it now. In some ways I want to justify the 10lbs I put back on, I want to justify my surly holiday demeanor, my overwhelmed and bitter attitude towards all my mommy duties, my crazy. In some ways I don't want to hit publish. Most folks know we want another kid, but few knew we were really serious and almost did. That opens up the vulnerability. Yes, we know we are nuts, yes we have a small house, we don't make a ton of money, we are in debt, our van has duct tape on it, we need help from family and friends ALL the time, our car has no hubcaps or air conditioner, our children are crazy and needy and wild, and I'm usually a hot bedraggled mess. My argument to that is this, our family is just not complete. God pulls on my heart constantly that somehow some way, our family will grow. Five is not our number, that's probably why we are so off kilter all the time! 

The biggest reason I want to tell the folks who care to read it is that someday we will be expecting a child again, and that's not the first time I want to mention my miscarriage to the grand public. Our loss is important, our loss was bearable somehow, and it was an Allen child that deserves to be loved and honored and mentioned and have his/her own little day in the sun of community acknowledgement. We really figured it would be another girl and secretly, very hush hush quietly we thought about the name Delia June. Delia after Jason's aunt, and June so she would be the most Southern creature alive! A friend from work had a baby girl a few months ago and named her Delia. My heart leapt and sunk all together. Maybe we will save that secret quiet name for another baby Allen girl someday, but if we don't get the chance, it's how I will remember this little one in my imagination. The interesting thing about miscarriage is that it's the loss of all you imagined and hoped for your child. I joked that for a mama, I had already imagined through college, a wedding, grandchildren even! My imagined loss is not different than anyone else's. All loss is unique, complicated, and singular to the one in grief. When we lose someone, we mourn the future we lost with them. 


I have no clue how most families eat. Seriously, with the cost of food, the stretch factor on our time, picky kids, picky spouses, and just ...

My Tips for Feeding the Family

I have no clue how most families eat. Seriously, with the cost of food, the stretch factor on our time, picky kids, picky spouses, and just plain mental capacity reached before 2pm each day, I can't imagine that everyone feels like they are succeeding. I don't succeed every day, but I have a system that works for us most of the time. I spend more than ever before on groceries, but it still isn't as much as many families who have shared their grocery budgets with me. We have been buying local too! So, here are my "rules" and tips for feeding myself and these people that live with me. I'll share some sample menus with you another day.

Rules and Tips

1) Always Menu Plan

You can search sale ads first, check out your options for ordering from the Arkansas Local Food Network, flip through your Pinterest boards, whatever you want. Just make a menu for the week, because for someone as fragmented as me, just buying staples and then throwing something together on a whim requires WAY too much mental energy. That can happen at the end of the week when you are scraping through the last of the budget!

Menu Planning Tips
• Eat less meat! It's expensive, not great for your health or the environment, and did I mention that it's expensive? Save meat for 1-2x a week and use your money saved to buy organic high quality meats and maybe even from a local farmer!

• Go simple but stay excited. Choose a few stand by meals that are satisfying but simple to prepare with just a few ingredients. Then choose one or two adventurous meals that you could save for the weekend when you have more time. If you get too boring though, it will be more tempting to go out. 

• Be realistic. If your family currently eats out three times a week, don't plan for every meal in. You will have groceries that go bad then feel like you failed. 

• Choose meals that make plenty or can be turned into other meals. Leftovers make great grown up lunches. Chili can become chili cheese burritos or chili dogs or chili Mac (for the kids please!) 

• Have fun! Get excited about eating good, healthy food, watch a documentary or a foodie show first, just to keep yourself motivated. Eat to live!

2) Always Make a List
         • Decide on at least a loose budget if you have that luxury. I think I'll do another post on meal planning on a tight budget. I used to cut all the corners on groceries because it felt like the only financial area I could control. That was a mistake for my family and I hope that mentality in the US will change. Food should be affordable, but not at the cost of nutrition and health. Food should not just be a commodity. 

List Tips
• Choose a day and time to make your list and menu plan each week. Build it into your schedule so it doesn't seem like such a chore. 

• Write your list aisle by aisle to help save time at the store. I divide mine into produce, bread, natural foods, meat, pantry, frozen, dairy, and household extras.

• Keep your list posted along with your meal plan on the fridge or somewhere that you will see it. You can add to it or scratch stuff off if you need to. 

• ALWAYS take your meal list and grocery list to the store. That way if something is on sale, you can easily see which meal would be easiest to exchange. Also, the meal list will spark your memory if there is something missing from your grocery list. 

• Oh yeah, and follow it! There is bound to be something you add or decide you don't need, but you made it before the chaos of the store and with a plan in mind. It is doing the thinking for you!

3) Peanut Butter and Jelly: There is something in every family that will satisfy everyone in case you are tired, your adventurous meal took a dark turn (oh let me tell you some stories about recipes gone rogue), or your meals didn't stretch as far as you thought...OR that your toddler will eat when they refuse to even try the vegetable minestrone with kale! That something, at my house, is peanut butter and jelly and we will always have those supplies in our house. Find yours and prepare accordingly!

4) Set a Food Goal for Your Family: What do you want to accomplish with what you are eating? Do you want to manage weight, lose weight, gain weight, provide balanced nutrients and vitamin content, eat vegan or vegetarian, clean eating, whole foods only? What's your shtick? I'm not talking about fad diets, but rather the lifestyle choice you are making with your food. This goal will guide your meal plans and grocery shopping. Without a goal, the choices are beyond endless and convenience wins. I have lots of goals and try to manage them together, which is challenging so just start with one!

4) Have Mercy (cue Uncle Jessie)
When you go to Little Ceasars instead of making spinach salad and quinoa croquettes (or in my case, in ADDITION to making that because they turned into rubbery death discs), just enjoy it and don't be too hard on yourself. Find some good crock pot meals for soccer night, OR go through the Sonic Drive Thru and make the kids eat in the van and wipe off your popcorn chicken crumbs when you get to the field. I've heard the advice to look at your eating habits for a three day span and make adjustments from there. Do the best you can when you can and give yourself credit when you just can't.