Hi! I’m Ali, the crocheter behind The Turtle Trunk. Like many, I find peace and happiness in my craft. I use my hook and hands to make and create, ease my mind, and fill my soul. I crochet when I am happy and I crochet when I am sad, but I never knew that making such small items could bring me so much hope and happiness through such difficult times.
I am the wife of an Air National Guardsman. Before my husband’s last 6 month deployment, we tried for a year to get pregnant. Without any luck, he went away, and I filled the void with crochet. I built up my business and practiced my skills. When my husband returned we continued to try for a baby. After a few months, we did it! I remember sitting on the bathroom floor crying as I stared shockingly at the positive pregnancy test. I knew I wanted to be a mother ever since I could remember, and here I was, on step one of my journey. At 6 weeks we had our first ultrasound and heard a strong heartbeat! I was overjoyed and started planning all the things I was going to make for the baby.
It wasn’t until I was 11 weeks and 6 days that I found out everything was not as it was supposed to be. My husband took me to the emergency room, and I knew something wasn’t right. The monitor in front of me showed nothing, emptiness where life should have been. My dream along with a piece of my heart was lost that day. I worried I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant again, I was scared I couldn’t carry a baby to term, and I was terrified I would never be a mother. Surprisingly, all that worry and doubt didn’t get me anywhere. It just made me depressed and lonely.
With research I discovered that 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage. Most women have them before they even realize they are pregnant. I knew I wasn’t the only one, but I didn’t know that I was a part of such a large group. Miscarriage is a subject that is rarely spoken about. It’s something I didn’t realize had happened to many people I know. Until now, I have shared my story with very few people. I felt embarrassed and as if I had failed to do something my body was made to do. I think it’s important for those who have, or are currently suffering through any type of loss, to know that you are not alone and that it is not your fault. It takes time, it takes support, and it takes a willingness to move forward, but I want you to know, that there is always hope, even when it seems like all hope is lost. I have been where you have been and I am now truly stronger because of it. I lived through my nightmare and survived my biggest fear. I still grieve for the baby I should have had last Christmas. I still wonder what could have been and what life would be like If we hadn’t lost our first. But I remind myself that this happened for a reason. We were meant to have a baby, but just not that one.
A soon as we could, we continued on trying. Within a couple months, our hopes and dreams had been restored! We found out just before thanksgiving that we were pregnant again! We were filled with excitement and happiness, but also fear and nervousness. We waited until I was 13 weeks along before having an ultrasound done. We went into the appointment hands shaking and tummies filled with butterflies. My husband and I both held our breath waiting to see something on the monitor. A little, grainy blob popped up and was moving around like crazy. At that moment I knew, this was what we were waiting for!
With this new-found hope, I wanted to do something special, something to celebrate, something to share this wonderful time with others! Up until that week, I had looked up online how big the baby was each week. They always compared the size of the baby to a fruit or vegetable. I thought it would be fun to crochet a fruit or vegetable each week and save them all as toys once baby arrived. I called this my Pregnancy Progress Project. I started on week 14 with a lemon, when baby was just 3.5” long and ended with week 40 when she weighed the same as a small pumpkin! Every week I posted a new photo on Instagram and the response I received was amazing. I got to share this amazing adventure with so many by showing off my slowly growing bump and share a new little amigurumi face every week.
This project became something so much more than what I originally intended. It gave me the opportunity to create not just toys, but physical representations that I could hold in my hands. Items I could make each week to match the growing size as my baby. After one unsuccessful pregnancy, I never imagined being able to go through another pregnancy without constant worry and fear. But each week this project kept my mind at ease, brought me immense joy, and kept the hope alive. I never would have guessed that crochet could have made such a big difference to my emotional health.
The end of the project was only the beginning of something so wonderful. My baby girl came into the world at 40 weeks and 2 days. She is everything I ever dreamed of and I couldn’t imagine life without her. I look back now and know that what we had gone through was part of a bigger plan. Without that loss, we would not have gained this little bundle of joy who has filled up our hearts. She is our rainbow after the storm and everything now just seems right with her in our lives.