By Emily Williams-Robertshaw
Through her journey of life thus far, Allyson Mouron has experienced many chapters, but she tries to approach them with the bigger picture in mind.
It’s a skill she learned through the hardest of times, her struggles with infertility.
At the Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce’s luncheon at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens on Nov. 17, Mouron will speak about her experiences that led to a desire to support other couples following the same journey.
“I never, ever, ever would have imagined myself publicly speaking, whether it be to a small group, a church or at the chamber luncheon; but I always say that my story is too good not to share,” Mouron, who is involved with the local nonprofit Blessed Brokenness, said. “It is one of hope and it’s one about having eyes to see the goodness in front of you.”
For 4½ years, Mouron and her husband, Louis, tried to conceive a child. She was able to get pregnant, but her body would reject that pregnancy.
“We had a really hard time getting pregnant, saw lots of different doctors and traveled to different fertility clinics,” Mouron said. “Several doctors put their heads together and decided that it would be best for us to pursue using a surrogate.”
Having exhausted every other option, the Mourons were matched with their surrogate. About the same time, Mouron found out that she was naturally pregnant.
After a successful pregnancy, Mouron delivered their son, Tyson, and six weeks later their surrogate, Sharon, gave birth to their daughter, Annie. Mouron calls them “twiblings.” They aren’t twins, but they have never known life without each other.
“When we found out this was going to be our situation, I remember our doctor saying to us that this was kind of the best of both worlds because you get to knock it out at once,” she said. “You have a healthy boy and a girl, but they get to celebrate their own birthdays and have the day to themselves.”
Passing Along Their Experiences
About a year or two after their kids were born, when the struggles of new parenthood offered a bit of relief, the couple wanted to find a way to help other couples struggling with infertility.
“Louis and I are extremely fortunate in the fact that the financial burdens that can come from infertility were not burdens that we had, but we recognize how costly fertility treatments can be,” she said.
They met with a nurse practitioner they had worked with who pointed them in the direction of the nonprofit Blessed Brokenness. The nonprofit offered elements that suited both of their strengths.
Louis is the money guy, Mouron said, so he enjoys helping out with the scholarships for couples who are seeking treatments. Mouron loves the curriculum the nonprofit uses to support women.
“I lead a small group and my heart is in meeting with women and supporting them and loving them through the loneliness that infertility can bring,” she said.
The small groups offer women a safe space to open up about their struggles and those negative emotions they feel they can’t share in their daily life. They know that the other women in the group have felt those same feelings of anger at their situation and jealousy of close friends or family.
“That’s been such a gift for Louis and I to be able to look through a rearview mirror and see all of those nights that we felt so helpless and hopeless and so sad and so angry and disappointed,” Mouron said. “Now, truthfully, I wouldn’t want my story to be any other way, because it’s given me such a different perspective and has allowed my faith and trust in God to be that much more real.”
Fighting the Stigma
While she has found that women are generally more open to discussing their feelings and struggles, the organization is working on a curriculum that caters to men, as well as couples.
Through her work with other women struggling with infertility, Mouron said, she has seen great strides being made in the community’s willingness to hear and support women experiencing infertility.
“When Louis and I were going through it, I remember calling grandparents and great-grandparents and telling them that we were going to use a surrogate to carry for us,” she said. “It was not really talked about.”
She recalls one of her first experiences hearing someone talk openly about those struggles being reporter and TV personality Giuliana Rancic.
“The more that it is talked about the more that people want to get involved,” Moron said.
Just last week, she met another mother at the baseball field who had not experienced infertility but was inspired to help in any way she could, resulting in a $4,000 donation to the nonprofit.
Mouron is excited to have a platform to share her story and inspire others to get involved through her keynote speech at the upcoming Mountain Brook Chamber luncheon.
While the chamber luncheon initially was scheduled to take place in mid-September, Mouron said being able to speak closer to the holiday season is fitting. The holidays are hard.
“I remember so many of those years thinking that Christmas just isn’t how it’s supposed to be because I’m so broken,” she said. “This picture-perfect life that I thought I was going to have, that I was going to have this child in my arms on Christmas morning, is not the case. Worse than that are the people who have experienced infant loss and they are living the holiday without the child in their arms.”
She finds that healing lies in being able to find peace, gratitude and thankfulness no matter what season you are in.
This time last year, she remembers challenging a member of her small group to try to appreciate Christmas as potentially her last holiday season alone with her husband.
“After that, once a child comes into the picture in whatever capacity that is, your life is totally different,” Mouron said. “Sure enough, she had a baby a couple of months ago.
“That’s what Blessed Brokenness is. It’s repurposed pain and realizing that through our vulnerability and through our heartache, a bigger and better story is being written,” Mouron added.
Those skills can be applied not just in the struggle of infertility, but throughout life.
In December 2020, her father was diagnosed with leukemia. Throughout his cancer journey, she has focused on finding the blessings.
“All of the truths and promises that I’ve learned through our fertility story, I’m now applying to this new vulnerable hard season that we’re walking through,” Mouron said.
For more information on the Chamber luncheon, visit mtnbrookchamber.org.
For more on Blessed Brokenness, visit blessedbrokenness.org.