I wish I could tell you that my path to motherhood was an easy one, but like all things worth having, it took tenacity and patience. Two qualities that I don’t naturally possess. But two qualities that all mothers should have, so perhaps I needed the extra training, and that’s what took so long. I guess in hindsight, it took the perfect amount of time, the amount it was supposed to take. I had no way of knowing then, but I was working on God’s time, and he had a plan for me.
True Story: To really appreciate the story I’m about to tell you, I want to take you back to the first time I went to a psychic. Wait! Don’t stop reading or roll your eyes, I’m not a weirdo. But this little ditty is a necessary, if not entertaining pre curser to my journey towards motherhood. It was 2003 and I along with my best friend went to see a famous psychic to the stars just outside of Nashville. Most of what she told me, if I’m being honest was filler, but there were a few interesting predictions in there that did happen over the next year or so, that made me think maybe she was the real deal. Anyway at the end of my reading, I asked her about children. Did she see me as a Mother? She thought for a moment and said, “Yes, but not for a very long time”. I was in my early twenties and wanted nothing more than to be a young mom to a big family full of kids, so her words sort of startled me a bit, and I expressed my disapproval. She smiled and said, “Well then you’re gonna hate to hear this, but, you’re only going to have one child, a son. But dear that won’t happen until you’re much much older, sorry to disappoint you, that’s just what I see”. Maybe her words manifested the rest of my life, perhaps they stuck with me and shaped the choices I made over the next 15 years. Maybe it was all baloney, and she took a lucky guess that just happened to play out in her favor? But fast forward 10 years later, I heard that exact same sentiment from someone else. A tarot card reader in New Orleans, who worked in the back of a shop with a talking cat. He told me I wasn’t like other women, gesturing out to the drunk crowds on Bourbon Street, who could easily or accidentally get pregnant. He said If I wanted to be a mother it wouldn’t come naturally, it was going to take a lot of work. I would have to make it happen. But again, he didn’t see it happening in the near future. Stupid psychics.
So now that you’ve read my bizarre introduction, lets get to the story. As I mentioned above, I always wanted to be a mother. It was really the only ‘thing” I wanted to be. But my lack of luck in love, found me single still at 30, so when I left Nashville and moved back home, it was with great relief and joy that I quickly fell in love with an old boyfriend from high school who was still living in the area. We wasted no time, and after marrying 2 years later, we began trying immediately to have a family. For over a year I experienced the disappointment of getting my period, month after month. I tried vitamins, ovulation sticks, even standing on my head after sex, something my 90 year old grandma told me to try. But nothing was working, and I started to worry there was something wrong with me. However in October of 2011, 14 months after we first started trying, my bad luck came to an end, and there I stood staring at two pink lines on a home pregnancy test. Tears of joy streaming down my cheeks.
I remember the absolute ecstasy I felt during that time. It was like I became a member of a prestigious club, a club that I longed to be a member of for so long, and was finally inducted. Every day I would check my body for signs of life inside of me. Were my boobs getting bigger? Was my stomach growing? Any weird cravings? I read all the books I could, and started asking my girlfriends for advice. We picked out names and browsed for baby clothes and cribs. All the things that someone in their first trimester should avoid doing in case of miscarriage, I was doing. I had waited so long for this, and I wanted to immerse myself in all things baby.
A few days before Christmas, just 8 weeks after seeing that positive pregnancy test, my husband and I went to the OB to hear our baby’s heartbeat. We couldn’t wait to get the ultrasound photo and frame it for my grandmother for Christmas. That was how we were going to tell our extended families the good news. As I laid there smiling ear to ear, scared, excited, nervous for what we would see, I quickly realized the tech was worried, and wasn’t locating a heartbeat. After a few desperate attempts at locating it, I knew, we weren’t going to find it. The baby was gone. I immediately began sobbing. Never before had emotion come on so fast and furious. But something inside me knew that it was going to happen like this. I had an intuition about the appointment. I feared maybe I manifested this into happening, that my negative thoughts caused me to miscarry. I was lying on the table, sobbing, embarrassed that I was crying, thinking maybe I was in a bad dream. It felt like I was outside of my body watching this happen to me. Watching myself cry, but not feeling anything, other than numbness. I cried alone while getting dressed in a small bathroom, reeling from what just happened. When we left the doctors office, it was around 6:30 in the evening. It was dark and cold, but the street was decorated for Christmas. There were lanterns and wreaths all around me, blinking lights and holiday greetings on all the homes and businesses that lined the street. I thought I was going to faint from it all. The worst moment of my life being drowned out by Christmas carols. It was like a sick joke. Instead of celebrating our miracle with family over the holidays, we were going to have to tell everyone the horrible news. We were going to ruin Christmas.
In the days and weeks that followed, I found myself brushing off our tragedy, in an attempt to make other people comfortable. I didn’t want to be seen as pitiful or make people feel awkward around me, so I just repeated my canned response of, “Oh its ok”, I was only 11 weeks, it could’ve been worse”. It was like I was trying to convince everyone, including myself that it was no big deal. Except it was a big deal, and the collateral damage of that tragedy was my marriage. I’m sure there were other factors that contributed to our divorce, but the bulk of the destruction was the miscarriage and my inability to grieve it properly. We tried to make it work, but in 2014 we divorced, amicably and easily, like it never happened.
Fast forward to 2015, positive I’ll never meet anyone special, and most definitely will never remarry, I start to ponder adoption and sperm donation. My goal is to be a mother whether I do it conventionally, or on my own, through surrogacy or adoption, whatever it takes, I am still convinced I am meant to be a mother, even if that means a single mother. I don’t know how I’m going to get there, yet I have this unrelenting faith that everything will somehow work out as it’s supposed to. Despite being prepared to go at it alone, a small part of my heart just wasn’t ready to give up on love. That’s when he came to me. Out of nowhere, in one of the greatest debuts, my future husband Rocky seemed to appear out of thin air. He was handsome, funny and kind, and we were crazy about each other. He knew I wanted to be a mother, he already had two kids from a previous marriage, but he was willing to have more if it made me happy. The only problem was that Rocky had a vasectomy after his second daughter was born, so we would have to do IVF in order to make this work, that was our best chance. Rocky and I married just 9 months after our first date and in 2016 we embarked on our IVF journey, one we were totally and completely naive about. We truly believed this would be a one and done type of procedure. Never did we prepare ourselves for 7cycles, 5 with my own eggs which turned out to be non viable, and then 2 more with a donor, which was a total disaster. Here I thought I might need little assistance because I was a few years older and had miscarried in the past. We had to do IVF because of Rocky’s vasectomy, but to learn that IVF was a dead end due to my eggs being old and rotten, (not quite the technical terms the doctor used but that’s exactly how I felt), that was a blow we weren’t prepared for.
Completely out of hope for having a healthy pregnancy, I still held on to the belief that I could be a mother another way. Through adoption. At first my husband was not on board. I hate to even type that sentence now, but at the time, he didn’t want to venture down that road. He had two healthy children and was weary from all the IVF failures. He was at the end of the line in our journey, but I wasn’t ready to stop just yet. Here comes that tenacity! After some convincing, he decided to give adoption a chance and we dove in head first, again completely naive to what lied ahead. Now this is the part of the story where I’m going to get a bit spiritual. I’m not a church goer, but I’ve always believed in a God. Too many blessings have happened in my life for me to ignore that. And this is where I witnessed a miracle and learned about God’s timing.
Preparation alone for adoption can take months to years. There are all sorts of back ground checks and clearances to pass, fingerprinting, and of course the home study, where a case worker learns all about you and visits your home to make sure it is an appropriate environment for a baby. We were told that process would take about 6 months to complete and then finding a baby and getting matched could take years. So when our clearances and home study were completed within 2 months and we were matched with a baby 3 weeks later, we were shocked to say the least. Somehow we found ourselves on the express train to adoption and we were completely taken aback by how quickly things were progressing.
Feeling completely blessed by how easily it was coming together, we began preparing for a baby boy who was due January 19th, 2018. Over the next few weeks and months we got to know our birth mother better. Her name was Shay, she was located in Alabama, so we weren’t able to physically interact with her but we exchanged texts and phone calls, shared photos and stories, and I expressed my appreciation for her sacrifice and my excitement for the birth of the baby. We bonded over our dreams for this child. But despite all our conversations and blissful bonding moments, there was something about her that didn’t feel right. She would often ask for more money. She would dangle the baby in front of us like a carrot, using him as a way to get what she wanted. Feverishly calling to get money overnighted for emergencies like her furniture getting repoed or her car breaking down. She tugged at our heart strings. We wanted the best for her and the baby, so we would panic and call the agency and plead with them to send more money so she wouldn’t change her mind and take him away from us. Looking back, it seems so desperate and sad, and it was. And she knew exactly what she was doing and who she was playing.
She knew all about me and my infertility. She knew how much I longed to be a mother. She knew how excited we were to welcome this baby into our home. And she knew we would do anything to help her because that’s the kind of people we are. The knots in my stomach grew by the month, and I continued to fear something bad would happen. My biggest fear, like most adoptive moms, was that she would change her mind and parent the baby herself. And we were prepared for that possibility, although she insisted she wouldn’t. She had adopted out four other children and was totally at peace with her decision. So despite the knots in my stomach and my intuition firing on all cylinders, I believed her, and held faith that this was meant to be. God wouldn’t put us through this after all the failed IVF attempts. Life just couldn’t be that unfair. Until it was.
On the afternoon of October 26th, 2018, we received a call from our attorney in Alabama. He told us that our birth mother had been working with 4 other families, promising her baby to them as well. We had been scammed. All 4 families believed they would be adopting her son, come January 19th. All of them prepared nurseries just like we had, sent her money, shared their dreams, saw ultrasound photos and one couple even went to her gender ultrasound. At that same ultrasound while holding the hand of that adoptive mother, she was texting me the details of the visit and the sex of the baby. She was caught because a nurse at the local hospital flagged her file due to two different attorneys requesting her medical records. Had that nurse not thought it suspicious and spoke up, contacting the attorneys to tell them about the conflict, this charade would have continued. Instead she was arrested and charged with theft by deception. And as good as that felt in the moment that she was paying the price for her actions, I was still left without a child. To say that rage filled my heart, is an understatement. I was consumed by despair. I couldn’t imagine how the world could be so cruel. This baby was going to be born in prison, most likely going to straight into the foster system instead of our loving home. I lost my faith in God , I lost my faith in humanity. I had truly hit the bottom. I never thought I would recover. Truly. But because our situation was so unique and dramatic , a local news station asked us to share our story. At first we were apprehensive, the wounds were still too fresh. But we decided to go public with what happened to us, in an attempt to prevent it from happening to others. Maybe if more people knew that this could happen, maybe if someone was in a similar situation, we could help them before it was too late. So that’s what we did. We told our story to the news. We opened our home and shared our shame and embarrassment with millions of people. And in telling our story we found some comfort. We found some purpose, hoping we might help others. But we never expected what happened next.
A young woman who lived about an hour away from us, saw the news story on a local affiliate. She was 6 months pregnant and needed to give the baby up for adoption. She reached out to the reporters who ran our story and asked for their help in contacting us. Prior to seeing Rocky and me on the news, she was conflicted about adoption and wasn’t quite sure how she would feel giving her child over to strangers. But in us she saw a purpose. She felt it was a sign and asked that we adopt her baby, a boy due in February. As you can imagine I was so scared and guarded. What if this woman was just out to hurt us, another person taking advantage of someone in such a desperate state? But that wasn’t the case at all. This woman, who we’ll call Amy, was the real deal. She loved her baby but couldn’t give him the life she wanted him to have. Her motives were pure. She didn’t care about money, she just wanted to make sure her son was with the right family and that he would be loved and cherished. So on February 6th, 2018, we helped deliver our son Mac James at 1:49 am, weighing 6 lbs 11 ounces, with a full head of black hair. It was the joy of my life. I held Amy’s leg as she pushed him out into the world, I cut the cord and held him in my arms. We cried, we laughed, we celebrated, we grieved. It was the most beautiful moment I have ever experienced and yet the hardest. Knowing what she was giving me, what I was leaving with, and knowing what she was losing and leaving without, overwhelmed me. And again, like when I miscarried my own child, the rush of emotion came on hard and fast and felt like nothing I can explain. How would I ever repay this woman who was giving me something I could never do for myself? How could I ever know the grief that she would carry throughout her life? How will I make sure that my son knows the courage and love his mother showed, the selflessness that she possessed?
Today at 41, I am finally a mother to a beautiful son who is now 15 months old and napping peacefully upstairs. He’s the love of my life. Everyday I wake up with a heart full of appreciation and gratitude, not just for Mac but for his birth mom too. I love Amy, and there’s not a day that goes by that she is not in my thoughts. She lives in my heart, holding a special place that only she can possess. It’s a uniquely beautiful bond between a birth mother and an adoptive mother. One that is hard to express and can only be known through experience.
When I look at my life, I often think of those psychics who told me I’d one day be a mother to a child, a son, just one, who I would have to work hard to have. A child I would go through hell for, but now that I’m on the other side can say loud and proud was worth every tear, needle, surgery, let down, heartbreak and mis step. I do truly believe that God always had Mac picked out for me. He was always meant to be my son. It took almost two decades to find him, but I didn’t give up. Tenacity and patience paid off in the end, and it’s a lesson I’m so happy to have learned.
In the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo, he writes “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” I truly can not think of a more accurate statement to define my life. My path to motherhood wasn’t easy, but it sure was worth it.