Healthy Utah Article- 2012

Tiffany Alleman on Infertility, Pregnancy Loss, and the Gift of Motherhood

Written by John Anderson

It’s not a topic that many discuss openly, but after years of quietly battling with the issues of infertility and pregnancy loss, Mrs. Utah, Tiffany Alleman, felt it was time to address the problems and reach out to others facing the same struggles. I had the opportunity to sit down and ask Tiffany about her mission and her message and once again realized that, despite the professionalism, poise and grace somebody displays publically, you never know the powerful experiences and emotions they may have endured that have made them who they are today.

With a platform of “Infertility, Pregnancy Loss, and the Gift of Motherhood,” Alleman, the 31-year-old mother of two from Sandy, won the title of Mrs. Utah in May 2011. She has been reaching out and touching lives ever since. Hoping to use her position to create a dialogue and hope about these private, often under-publicized issues, Alleman is preparing a number of seminars for those couples facing fertility issues.

Alleman grew up in Rexburg, Idaho, and was a high school state track champion and a cheerleader, graduating top of her class. She attended Brigham Young University in Provo, where she met Jon, her volleyball-playing husband, from Yorba Linda, Calif. Both were enrolled in BYU’s business school, and in customary BYU fashion, fell in love and were soon married. Alleman landed a great job as an Internet marketer and enjoyed newlywed, newly-employed life, helping her husband finish his master’s degree in accounting.

When the Allemans tried to have children, they discovered that pregnancy wasn’t a given. And, after a year of unsuccessful fertility, they considered medical treatment. The Allemans are not alone. An estimated 10 to 12 percent of couples face fertility issues.

Through a variety of infertility treatments, which she began in 2003, Tiffany became pregnant seven times. Despite five miscarriages, two of those pregnancies were successful, and they are the proud parents of a beautiful little boy and girl. Through this process, Alleman learned that infertility is one issue while pregnancy loss is another challenging fertility issue.

“We were so thrilled to be pregnant that first time. My mom was elated. But then we lost our first pregnancy. It was so hard. My second pregnancy ended in miscarriage as well. But my pattern has been two miscarriages, one child, two miscarriages, and one child. What’s really hard is carrying a child until seventeen weeks, and by then we know the gender, and then we lose the baby. I’ve known my baby’s gender three out of five miscarriages.”

 

John:

Talk to me about the emotions of that experience.

Tiffany:

“It’s such a difficult thing. It’s a topic many people want to avoid, and when well-meaning friends and family inquire, the exchange is just awkward. It was actually easier not to tell people, even my own mother, when I was pregnant. And it was also easier to let others just assume that I was the driven, career-only woman that they perceived me to be. Many people just assumed that I preferred a career, or a bigger house or whatever, to being a mother.”

John:

Did you actually hear those comments?

Tiffany:

“Oh, yes. All the time. You hear the assumptions that we were waiting to have children to accumulate material things. People assume that if you are graduated from college, why wouldn’t you want to have kids? I love to travel and travel a lot for work, and people would talk about how I must prefer that to being tied down to a child.”

John:

So, people saw you as living the jet-setter lifestyle….

Tiffany:

“Exactly. In fact I heard that too — ‘Oh, you’re a jet-setter.’ The whole time I was dying inside. Right after we got married, I wanted kids. But I’ve been through hard things before. My father had cancer twice when I was growing up. That was hard. So, with infertility, it was easier to let them assume the story and judge than try to explain. Sometimes it’s easier to not let people in to the real you — the real emotion. And that was actually a mistake I made. I could have had more support if I had been open.

John:

How would you have done things differently?

Tiffany:

“I would have been open. I would have listened to others. I would have expressed my opinion and asked theirs. I would have not been offended. Did you know that there are studies that show that a diagnosis of infertility is just as stressful on a couple as being diagnosed with cancer? Cancer is devastating, no question. But to a couple, one of the whole reasons you became a couple was to create a family. And to hear that you can’t have a family is overwhelming. It’s a big deal, and it’s hard on a couple because men and women handle things differently.“I didn’t tell family and didn’t open up to many people about this issue. I wish I had and feel that I could have actually faced this better with more support. The medications make you crazy, sometimes make you lose or gain weight. And, regardless, you are more emotional throughout infertility treatments, so sometimes at work I would have to shut my door and cry, and nobody really knew why. Not to mention basic pregnancy sickness. But I wouldn’t want to tell others because I knew the likelihood was that I wouldn’t be in a few weeks.”

John:

It’s hard to know what to share and when to share it.

Tiffany:

“No question. Sometimes when you share your emotions with hard things, it’s harder for them, so you feel like you’re having to support and reassure them, telling them, ‘It’s okay, I’m going to be okay,’ when you really just want people to tell you that you’re okay. So, I didn’t even tell my closest friends or even my mom in the early stages of my pregnancy. It was too hard for me to comfort them when I just needed to focus on being positive myself. It was easier to tell [my mom] after the fact that I had miscarried. The fact is, there is no easy time or way to share either the news of pregnancy, infertility or loss, so it’s great when people can be compassionate, trustworthy and supportive whenever they are approached with the news.”

John:

You’re right. We don’t know how to address topics like this sometimes.

Tiffany:

“I totally get that. People don’t know what to say or how to handle the topic in general. And while you don’t want to field a hundred questions everywhere you go, on the other hand people try to be sensitive and not invite you to baby showers or toddler birthdays where you might feel emotional, and that’s sad too.”

John:

What a tricky issue.

Tiffany:

“Right. It’s a very isolating, guilt-ridden form of silently suffering. Infertility is one big emotional issue for people to handle. Pregnancy loss is a whole different set of emotions. So, I feel that I relate to a lot of couples struggling with infertility and also those couples struggling with pregnancy loss. There are other parents dealing with the grief of stillbirth, which fortunately I have not had to go through. All of these are big issues for couples to address professionally and in a healthy manner. Fortunately, there are support groups throughout the state that deal with both issues of infertility as well as loss. There are also counselors that are specialized for these issues.”

John:

Tell me about becoming Mrs. Utah

Tiffany:

“I also had a friend of mine who won the Mrs. Utah Pageant and really encouraged me to try it. But I thought it wouldn’t really work with my history of always being pregnant or always having a miscarriage and always on infertility meds. That was just the routine. So I felt that I couldn’t commit because I didn’t want to hold off having a child. But my friend was persistent and pointed out that the pageant was only three weeks away. So, I thought I’d give it my best and ended up winning this past May. It changed my whole perspective of pageants and the quality of women who compete there.“I didn’t grow up doing pageants. It really wasn’t my thing. I don’t even like to wear swimsuits at the pool! But a few years ago I was asked to come help the Miss Draper Pageant girls prep for their interview portion because I had done so much interview work in my job. It was really great. These girls are sharp. As of this year, I’m on the state teen board. I’m so impressed with these wonderful girls.

“But the pageant was fun, and it was a great way for me to openly discuss and further the reach of the infertility topics. And it’s given me a great spotlight and was the main motivator for the series of free seminars I’m hosting throughout Utah in the coming months. The seminars, co-produced by the Utah Fertility Center (UFC), aim to educate couples on why they may be having trouble conceiving and the multitude of options available.”

For more information about Tiffany Alleman and her upcoming seminars, find her online at: www.alittletiff.com

Article Reviewed: June 22, 2012
Copyright © 2014 Healthy Magazine

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