“I have never believed family comes from DNA, which is completely evident in the family that surrounds me in Los Angeles. But as a little girl, I did always believe the old saying of first comes love, then comes marriage, followed by at least one baby carriage. Being the second oldest of seven siblings, and the granddaughter to my Mawmaw, who was one of twelve kids, I wrongly assumed my entire family was filled with Fertile Myrtles.
Fast forward to 2007, I found myself walking down the aisle towards the boy I started dating when I was only 15. Even though over the years of us dating, Cameron and I talked about marriage and kids. To be honest, at some point, I had decided we would be better off just growing old in our love, and a piece of paper and kiddos did not need to be part of our story. Obviously, that changed when he got down on one knee. We planned early on we would wait 5 years before we started having kids or adopting. I was only 22 at the time, so I figured we didn’t have to rush into anything.
In 2009, I found myself on a surgical table having a giant uterine fibroid removed, as well as being diagnosed with endometriosis. I still vividly remember waking up to the doctor telling me, due to a complication, I could never have a natural birth, and if we wanted to have any babies, it was sort of a now or never situation. She explained most likely I would have recurrent fibroids combined with future endometriosis, which both make for difficulty getting pregnant.
I don’t know if I ever really expressed to anyone how much this moment threw me. I felt like my ‘plans’ were yanked away from me in an instant. I knew I wanted to have kids with my husband, but the idea of becoming a mom at 22 terrified me. Little did I know, I shouldn’t have stressed because it would certainly not be easy for me to become a mama anyway!
At this point, my doctor basically said, ‘Go make a baby, but if you’re not pregnant in 3 months, we should start fertility treatments to move things along.’ 3 months later, I was staring at a positive pregnancy test, feeling a whole pile of emotions from fear and anxiety to excitement and happiness. I couldn’t wait to tell Cam. I remember making him little clues that led to baby shoes in the oven. Typing that out now makes me laugh and also cringe. He was obviously very happy, and we could barely keep it to ourselves. Our baby news was met with lots of love.
At my 10-week appointment, the doctor told me, unfortunately, there was no longer a heartbeat. The doctor assured me, ‘This is normal’,’ ‘It happens more than you think,’ and ‘You can try again.’ Even if it was ‘common,’ I didn’t know anyone who had had a miscarriage before, which made everything incredibly lonely. We had already told so many people, and I was very much ashamed.
My doctor gave me the option to ‘pass’ the baby at home or have a D&C. After asking all the questions, I decided to have the surgery. I wanted it over as quickly as possible. To say I was crushed being wheeled back for the procedure would be such an understatement. Besides the overwhelming sadness, I felt so much guilt and anger. I blamed myself and my body. I sat in the shower and cried almost daily, trying to make sense of what I could have done differently. Should I have prayed more? Was God punishing me? Did I move my body in some way that caused this? The list of questions I asked myself was endless. I also found myself angry and bitter. It seemed like every reality and TV show featured a glowing mom-to-be, and more than one of our friends was having an unplanned pregnancy.
Our next step was fertility treatments. The doctor was sure I was a good candidate because I had already been pregnant once. I can’t remember how many IUIs we did, but eventually, I did get pregnant again, and once again, I miscarried. This time, I went through it at home, which I remember thinking wasn’t as bad as I heard it would be. All of the same emotions from the first time came flooding back, and I felt like I was spiraling. After two miscarriages, the fertility doctor felt IVF was the next best step.
Before I could move to that step, I wanted to explore our other options. After doing a bunch of research on adoption and surrogacy, the reality was private adoption was an expense we couldn’t take on after paying for fertility treatments. As far as surrogacy, I already felt envious of every single pregnant woman I came into contact with. I just knew I would hate everyone if another woman was doing a job I couldn’t do for myself.
At that point, we went back and consulted with the surgeon who had removed my fibroids/endometriosis, and she suggested another ‘cleanup’ surgery before we attempted any more fertility treatments. For some reason this gave me all the hope, I let go of the stress and I was looking forward to feeling good again. During my pre-op for surgery, our first real miracle happened. I found out I was pregnant, but not from fertility treatments or any sort of trying.
My pregnancy was filled with anxiety and uncertainty as I kept expecting the worst. But literally, everything we went through over those 2 ½ years was worth it when I held our daughter, Ryan, for the first time. Of course, the doctor had some news after my c-section, and basically said most likely it will be difficult to have more babies so just ‘be prepared.’ We shrugged off the doom and gloom because we finally had everything we wanted and planned on enjoying our baby girl before adding any more munchkins.
3 months later, I was staring at a positive pregnancy test in absolute tears. How in the world?!? This is where I cry a lot. I cried because I was happy. I cried because I felt sad. I cried because I felt guilty about being sad. After everything we went through, how could I possibly be anything, but overjoyed at a second baby? But the reality was I was terrified of having two babies in diapers, being pregnant and nursing, the financial side of things, and quite frankly I had no idea how I could possibly love another baby as much as I loved our daughter.
When I found out we were having a boy, even more tears came. Judge me if you must, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around raising a boy. I cried the same sad and guilty tears once again. However, after I felt him kicking, all of the worries melted away and I couldn’t wait to meet him. This pregnancy was even harder than the first. They scheduled my c-section for 39 weeks, like my last one, but we didn’t make it. Because my pregnancy had been difficult, I didn’t actually know I was in labor. Exactly one day before my planned surgery, I ended up going to the hospital to deliver. This time, the doctor told us I was very lucky we came when we did because my uterus had almost ruptured. She was very adamant there could be no more babies for at least 2 years. She didn’t have to tell me twice, because we had no intention of adding on to our family anytime soon. I was just so grateful to be holding our son, Reef. It turns out, your heart just expands as needed.
2 years and more fibroid/endometriosis surgeries later, plus a new diagnosis of adenomyosis, I found myself with baby fever. Cam and I decided to try the ‘not NOT trying’ approach with zero assumptions of how things would play out. We would just see what happens. After over a year passed with no baby, we decided to make the call to our fertility doctor and schedule a consultation. Luckily for us, another miracle would happen before my appointment, and I found myself staring at another positive test.
We knew this pregnancy would most likely be my last as my body had already been through so much. A couple of months in, I started bleeding quite a bit. While waiting for my ultrasound, a doctor came to tell me I had miscarried. I was devastated but didn’t understand how he could know without the main test. Thankfully a nurse was kind enough to listen to me sob in confusion and after some back and forth, the doctor let us know, he mistakenly had been looking at an ultrasound from one of my previous miscarriages. My actual ultrasound showed I had not miscarried and needed to be on bed rest.
My pregnancy remained complicated throughout and at one of my appointments, they discovered I had gone into labor at 34 weeks. Although babies are viable at this time, my doctor really wanted me to make it to 36 weeks to avoid having the baby go to the NICU. I stayed in the hospital getting shots to stop labor and also to help grow our baby’s lungs. Her delivery was pretty terrifying. I remember seeing the bags of blood being brought into the room for and knowing our baby would be off to the NICU after all. The doctor told me this would definitely be my last time carrying a baby.
It was 4 days before I could hold Rowan for the first time. NICU mamas will know that time is just indescribable. The joy of holding her was met with intense sadness as I was wheeled from the maternity floor to be discharged, but without a baby to show for it. We were eternally grateful when she got to come home too.
Even though we had been told no more babies, in my mind, our family wasn’t complete. Anytime anyone asked if more babies were coming, Cam and I repeated we were done. Most of the time, people would respond that three kids were ‘more than enough.’ I would laugh it off, but behind the scenes, I really had been planning on four kids.
Two years later, I was finally referred to a specialist who was going to remove my endometriosis once and for all. After meeting with her, I got my hopes up that MAYBE, just maybe we could have another baby if the surgery was successful. I had the surgery at the beginning of 2019, and Cam and I started the ‘not NOT trying’ again. I really thought if it was meant to be, it would be.
When I got a faint positive test, I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t want to be happy yet, especially if this wasn’t going to end well… but a few days later I got a negative, so I knew I needed to check in with the doctor. While talking over our long history, she said, ‘Only you will know when your family is complete.’ That will stick with me forever because I needed those words. She sent me to a specialist who confirmed I was in the process of miscarrying once again. I laid there looking at a very familiar ultrasound, but a very different pregnancy. I could see where the sac had attached to my c-section scar, and the doctor further explained it also caused my scar to open up. If the pregnancy had continued it could have been detrimental. She kept saying it really was a good thing as I laid there stoically in silence. This time I couldn’t have a D&C or medicine to move things along. I had to do it at home, and it was a very long, and painful emotional process.
During a follow-up, my new OB had a very direct conversation with myself and Cam, saying it had to be the very last time my body was pregnant. She brought up surrogacy to us, but even after all these years, I still knew it wasn’t for our family. After that appointment, Cam agreed we should look at adoption again, and I sat there knowing I would still get my fourth baby somehow.
I spent the next few weeks researching like crazy. I looked into everything from private and international adoption, foster to adopt, match adoption through foster care, etc. I have to say the beginning was overwhelming. I went down a rabbit hole of reading the stories. I found all the good and bad ones, and it was a lot to process. I realized no matter what route we went, our gain would be someone else’s loss. After getting a little down about it all, I decided to get direct info. I talked to anyone and everyone I knew who had adopted, been adopted, or were in the process. I am forever grateful to those who answered my endless texts, emails, and messages. As much as I thought I wanted to do a private adoption, I found myself repeatedly going back to all the foster care websites and realizing this was really tugging at my heart.
After going over my research with Cam, we decided to try both routes – private adoption and foster care – to see what would happen. When we had our call with the agency, it immediately felt like a perfect fit, and we planned to do both private adoption and foster care through them. In all honesty, my husband was a little hesitant about foster care at first. He was worried about the heartache of loving kids and then having them leave us. We had already experienced a lot of loss. Something I held on to was there was a risk of heartbreaking losses no matter what we chose. At our foster orientation, we realized we wanted to be foster parents! Our job was going to be providing a loving home to these kiddos while their parents work on themselves. We also decided we didn’t need to pursue private adoption, because this was really something we were meant to be doing.
I wasn’t sure how our kids would handle the news about fostering, but when we talked to them about it, their initial reaction was complete happiness. They told anyone who would listen. Of course, we continued to explain fostering meant the kids would only be staying with us for a little while, and then they would go back home. We also went over how any baby or child who was with us would be part of our family. That meant lots of new brothers and sisters, which only made them excited. We continued to trust this was where we were supposed to be.
During the certification process, the agency helped guide us in choosing our perimeters. We decided at the beginning to open our home to ages 0-2 with no gender or ethnicity preferences. It was important we keep the birth order in the house as recommended by the social workers. We also went through a list of traumas that kids potentially may have and determined what we would be able to take on, taking into consideration our own kids’ needs. We were told repeatedly to be prepared ages 0-2 were often returned home quickly for various reasons or placed with immediate family members, but that didn’t scare me at all. At the very last meeting, I had major baby fever and asked them to switch us to 0-1. It just felt right. Luckily, they said we would still probably get a call quickly, and they weren’t kidding.
About two weeks later, we got our first call for a baby girl but she ended up going to another family. I can’t pretend it didn’t make me sad. I was worried that was our chance, and we had missed out. I felt the familiar sting of loss, for a baby that wasn’t ever ours. I needed to get mentally prepared for a rollercoaster ride.
Just three days later, we got a text about another baby, Without any hesitation, I said YES, and then had to run to tell Cam the news! That moment launched us into a serious whirlwind of cleaning and baby preparations. I had to pick her up alone, and I felt like a nervous first-time mom. When I walked in, she was crying while the workers were trying to show me papers. I interrupted, and I asked if I could hold her. At that moment, I silently wished for her to feel safe with me as I scooped her up. It’s a memory that will forever make me teary, as she stopped crying as soon as she was in my arms. I whispered, ‘I got you.’
The entire car ride home, my mind bounced from one emotion to the next. I couldn’t help but be worried about her mom and dad. I can’t quite put into words the mixed and complicated emotions of being a foster parent. Having my own kids, I truly understand how heartbreaking it would be to have them taken away. I can’t imagine that pain. I balance my emotions by knowing, right now the baby needs endless love. I know she has had it since she came into our home, welcomed by three older siblings who have truly bonded with her.
The truth still remains, even though my heart is constantly bursting at the sight of our full house, and while we are so blessed to have her in our lives, I know our beautiful gain is a tremendous loss for another. No matter how this story ends, this baby will forever be family, made by love.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jenna Davison from Los Angeles, CA. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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