Happy Family artwork by Spunky Fluff. (I adore it!)

After being married for a few years, my husband and I were living across the country while he attended graduate school. On February 2, 2004 I found out I was pregnant. We were so excited, we had always wanted a big family, and this was the start! On February 4th, my dad’s birthday, I called home to let our families know that I was having a miscarriage. It was very early on, and just one of those things. But, it was at that moment we both realized that the second you see the positive sign on the pregnancy test… you become a parent.

On February 4th, we cried, and we shared a bag of powdered donuts and a kit kat. As ridiculous as it sounds, I can’t eat a powdered donut and not think of that dreary afternoon. Two more miscarriages later (total now 3), I went to the doctor to begin the process of determining why I could not stay pregnant, only to discover that I was pregnant again! We were now in our second, and final year of school. It was touch and go the entire 9 months. The doctor watched me like a hawk. But, we made it back to Texas — our home — in early June.

On July 21st I went into labor, and after 27 1/2 hours of agony, the doctor decided I needed an emergency c-section. Baby C was grinding into my pelvic bone and there was no where for him to go. Our precious baby boy was born in July 2005. He had air outside of his lungs and was taken to the NICU where he spent most of our stay in the hospital. The pain medication never really worked right on me and I was able to feel most of what happened on the surgery table. I don’t remember much of that now, but hubby sure does! We brought home our 9 lb beautiful baby boy. Our world changed that day, and I am so thankful.

After C was born we waited a while and started trying again. I had a few more miscarriages, and a D&C. Each one was traumatic. They were all early on, and many people feel that is fortunate. I haven’t experienced the alternative, so I don’t know. What I do know is that a miscarriage is a loss. Each of those babies already had a name. Already had a secure place in our hearts, minds, and in our family. And then they were gone. It happens so fast. But your body still needs time to readjust to normal after a miscarriage. You just can’t forget it. It’s a loss, and you must mourn.

We met with a fertility specialist who told us if we didn’t have a 2 year old sitting next to us, he would tell us we could not have children on our own. He wasn’t sure how we had C. His suggestion was in vitro, but by this point, hubby and I had already decided to adopt. There was no guarantee with fertility treatments, but there is a guarantee with adoption. You may have to wait a while, but you know the process ends with a baby. That was all we wanted, a baby.

In November 2007 we told our families that we were starting the adoption process and we hoped for their support. They gave much support freely, though I know each had their own concerns. Every adoptive family is required to attend an orientation with the private agency that we used. It’s affiliated with the Church of Christ, which we are members of, and we wanted a domestic adoption. Our orientation was February 1st and 2nd. As luck would have it, we ate lunch across from the VP of the agency. He is still handling cases, and we were able to get to know him a little bit.

Then, the President invited all of the couples to dinner that night at a local restaurant. We were the only ones that attended. We were able to ask questions we didn’t feel comfortable asking in a group, and get a clearer picture of how adoption really worked. On the drive home the next day, we finished the rest of the paperwork and mailed it off the following Tuesday.

On February 18th we received a call from Bob, the VP. A baby had been born in another Texas town, the mother said she didn’t know she was pregnant (she already had a 1 yr old), the mother and father were babies themselves, and she wanted to place her new son for adoption. Bob asked permission to present us along with 3 other families to the birth mother. He assured us that this was not typical and to not get our hopes up, but he had been doing this for so long and sometimes you just “get a feeling.” Of course we agreed. The other 3 families, however, did not. And we were the only couple interested.

They wanted to meet us. So, on February 23rd we drove to meet the birth parents. After a long evening, we met the precious baby. He was crying. No one could calm him. They asked if I wanted to hold him. I agreed… and he stopped crying immediately. The tears flowed. The next day we brought home our Baby S.

On S’s first birthday, I realized that I was late. I was never late -EVER! We weren’t trying to get pregnant, that ship had sailed! But, sure enough, I was pregnant, again. Ok, so, here we go again. It was exciting, yet, we knew how it would end. I would have a miscarriage. It was only a matter of time and we should prepare ourselves for it. Every miscarriage had been a little different. Some happened within days of a positive test. Others lasted a few weeks only to find an empty sack at a routine visit. Each one was different, each baby was different, so we could only wonder how this one would happen. We prayed for the best, but prepared for the worst.

Things were going fine. On February 26th we had mexican food for dinner, and I thought that it wasn’t settling right. I thought my stomach was just in knots and I really wasn’t feeling too well. As the night went on, it got worse. In the middle of the night I woke hubby, I was bleeding and could hardly stand. We went to the closest hospital, but they took forever. He decided we should leave and go to the medical center. He had to carry me to the car. They saw me immediately, did an ultrasound, and determined I was having an ectopic preganancy and needed emergency surgery. I was whisked away. My tube had ruptured. The doctor talked with us and said we were done…no more kids.

We were fine with that. We weren’t even trying to get pregnant, adoption was good for us.

I felt awful. Another loss to mourn. Alec was devastated too, the dr had told him that we were dangerously close and he could lose me that day. How would we really recover from this? I don’t know how we did. Looking back, I didn’t get to mourn properly. I had 2 other children to care for. I threw myself into being a mom. I was already a stay at home mom, but it was like I couldn’t keep my kids close enough. No one would take them from me. They were my little blessings, and I would protect them.

In the spring of 2008 we decided to start the adoption process again. After a short 3 month period we got a phone call from Bob again! A 18 yr old mother of 1 was pregnant again. She wanted to place her baby and walk away. She didn’t want to meet us, but her parents did. So they were asking for a visit. We met the birth mother, her parents, aunt, and minister. It was an interesting visit, but we walked away somewhat confident that she would choose us. She was due in a 2 weeks.

Things went well, and she was induced. We drove to another Texas town and waited for the call to come to the hospital. Finally, we heard from one of the case workers. She had changed her mind. She was keeping the baby. the nurses did not respect her wishes and made her nurse the baby and keep him in her room. At 18, giving birth, and dealing with drama you would not believe from friends and family at the hospital, how can she be expected to then argue with the nurses? I cried and and cried.

The case worker asked us to stay in town the next day and give her a chance to talk with the mother. We did, but it was a long day with no signs of change. We loaded up the car and began to head out of town when the phone rang. She wanted to know what name we would want on the birth certificate. We brought home our 3rd son. It was insanity!

In October, after Baby A’s arrival, we decided that 3 was a good number! We felt like we were done with adding to our number. To our surprise in late October, I was pregnant for the 9th time. You have got to be kidding me? The dr’s have no idea how it happened. I’m a walking medical miracle!

After 9 months which included bedrest and 2 stays in the hospital. We had our baby girl. It was unbelievable. Truly a miracle. The entire practice of doctors was involved in our pregnancy. They took such good care of us. The bedrest enlisted our friends and family that cared for us with such love. We could never repay them. But they wouldn’t want us too, because we all share in our family. Our fourth miracle, and it’s a girl!

Did I mention the 2 brothers and sister we added as well? Oh right…well, my husband and I work with the youth group at our church and we got to know one of the families pretty well. The mother moved herself and the kids here from Mexico when her husband was put in prison. She was over her head and it spiraled into a mess. They boys moved in with us when Baby C was about a year old, they just moved out last October as young college students.

Their sister stayed with mom until 2 summers ago when mom pretty much left her. She has been with us since. They are my children too. They have a mother they see from time to time, and I am not trying to replace her. I have my own place in their lives. I love them just as I love my little ones. They are yet, 3 more miracles.

So, you see, our family is a little unconventional. Nothing about our life is normal or typical, but we like it that way. It is ours, and it is a gift from God. Each of our babies came to us in their own unique way with their own unique personalities. We can’t wait to see what adventures our children will take us on. It’s been a bumpy ride with lots of ups and downs, but it’s all been worth it.

From Lacey King.

P.S. — Here’s another sweet birth story from a Colorado girl.

Note from Design Mom: throughout my 6th pregnancy, I posted reader-submitted advice, memories and stories about pregnancy, childbirth, adoption and growing a family. My baby is hardly a baby anymore — here’s her birth story and her newborn photos — but the series has been so popular that I’m continuing it indefinitely. You can find all the stories in this series by clicking here. Have a story you’d like to share? I’d love to read it. You can send it to me at gabrielle@designmom.com.