“In 2018, after trying for over a year to conceive, we decided to seek treatment with a fertility specialist. After several tests, a semen analysis revealed my husband has Azoospermia, which ultimately means he is sterile and will not be able to biologically father children. In our case, our infertility is male factor, which is something a lot of people don’t know exists.
For most people, this would put their family planning on hold. Not for us. After taking some time to grieve the loss of our dreams of our future family, we started to look at our options. We began with looking at sperm banks and sperm donation options. There were so few options for African American donors, and even fewer that had the option for any children conceived to have contact once they reach the age of eighteen.
Eventually, we selected a donor to an insemination. Every time we tried something came up. Shipping issues, scheduling discrepancies – every single time we were not given the opportunity to inseminate. Just as we decided that maybe using donor sperm wasn’t the best option for us, we got the text.
My best friend called and asked, ‘If it came down to it, would you ever foster/adopt a baby?’
Confused, I responded, ‘Of course! But the cost associated is just as much if not more than IVF.’
‘Well, a friend of mine and her boyfriend are considering adoption for their son. I told them I thought you guys would be a great fit!’
We were shocked! They wanted us to be his parents! One day, we were finding out we’d never have children. A week later, we were being told we already had one!
The first time we met our son, we were greeted by a nurse in the NICU. She stopped us and said, ‘Please wash your hands.’ Our son, Ezra, was born 7 weeks early. He needed time to learn to feed and grow. For three weeks, we would go to see him at the hospital before work, and after work. Seeing him with all the tiny little wires and tubes was devastating, but we knew they were necessary.
One day, I came to visit him and I noticed a red mark on his face. The nurse walked over to me and asked cheerfully, ‘Do you notice anything different?’
‘Yeah! What the heck is this red mark on his face?!’ I growled in full mama bear fashion. Then it hit me, and I squealed, ‘His feeding tube is out!’
The next day we brought him home!
After we shared about our adoption on social media, we received THOUSANDS of messages, moments, and feedback! Most of them positive, but definitely not all of them. We got lots of messages with comments along the lines of, ‘How dare you adopt a white baby when there are so many black kids in the system?’ Or ‘Are you babysitting?’, ‘Are you the nanny?’ We’ve even had people have the audacity to ask, ‘Where is his mommy and daddy?!’ Even now, almost two and a half years later, people stop and stare or make rude comments. As if a black man and woman adopting outside of their race is so farfetched!
Even with all the messages and comments we got, we just wanted to keep growing our family. When Ezra was about three months old, we decided to start planning for our future. When looking at our options of how to grow our family we came across embryo donation.
Since our fertility struggle was male factor, we still had the desire to experience pregnancy, and the full birth experience. When someone has gone through in vitro fertilization to conceive, they may have left over embryos. They are given three options for the remaining embryos. Option one is to donate them to science to further research reproductive medicine. Option two is to discard them. Option three is to donate them to another individual, couple, or family looking to grow their family.
Since we had already adopted our son, we realized we only had the desire to become parents. We didn’t care if that meant biologically or otherwise! So, I posted all over social media that we were looking for donor embryos. We wanted to have an open relationship with our embryo donors – meaning we wanted any children conceived to be able to reach out to their genetic family, to grow up with their genetic siblings, and never wonder where they come from.
We joined a website called Nrfa.org, which is specifically designed to help facilitate matches between embryo donors and recipients. Within three weeks of making a profile, we had a match! We were interviewed by the donor family so they could get to know us better. Ultimately, they decided we were a perfect fit. After they were blessed with twin boys, they donated their three remaining embryos to us!
While we were going through the embryo donation paperwork with our lawyers, we received a message about a local couple who also wanted to donate embryos to us. They had a son who was conceived via IVF, then shortly after he was born, they were surprised with a miracle baby boy who was conceived naturally! They wanted to donate five of their ten remaining embryos to us.
We went from having no hope of ever conceiving a child, to the possibility of EIGHT in such a short amount of time! After going through four months of testing with our fertility clinic, we finally had a date to transfer our embryo. On August 19th, 2020, a couple weeks after our son’s first birthday, we implanted two embryos!
A week. It seems like such a short amount of time. But when you’re waiting to find out some of the most long-awaited news of your life, it feels like an eternity! About a week passed, and I took a home pregnancy test. It was POSITIVE!!! For the very first time, I WAS PREGNANT! Since we had made our fertility journey so public, we thought it was only fair to share our pregnancy immediately. Everyone was thrilled for us!
Unfortunately, our excitement was short lived. Three days later, we had a miscarriage. We were absolutely devastated. Not only did we have to go back and tell our family and friends we miscarried, we had to tell all our YouTube subscribers and Instagram followers too. It was like some sort of sick game. To finally be rewarded for all our suffering just to have it snatched away.
Although we were heartbroken, the end game hadn’t changed. We still wanted to grow our family and give our sweet boy a sibling. With only one embryo of our first batch remaining, we decided to use embryos from our second donor family. We hurried to finish all our paperwork with our new donors so we could transfer again immediately.
September 25th, 2020, we again transferred two embryos. This time, so cautiously optimistic, yet so grateful for another chance to grow our family. You’d think this time we would have kept everything hush hush. But we didn’t. We shared almost every single thing from start to finish.
On September 29th, with my husband standing over my shoulder, I took my first pregnancy test. The line was so faint. It was more of a shadow than a line. We held it up to a light and everything. Since we were unsure if it was a line or not, we decided it was negative.
The next day, Jarvis went to work. Since I was working from home, I had every opportunity to take as many pregnancy tests as I wanted. I was too nervous to take the pregnancy test alone, so I called our embryo donor, Sara, on FaceTime.
‘Hey! How are you?!’ I responded.
‘Did you take a test yet?!’ she asked.
‘I thought I saw a line yesterday, but I wasn’t sure!’ I laughed. ‘Will you do it with me? I think I’m going to take a digital test to be sure!’
‘Of course, I will!’ she exclaimed.
I propped my phone up and removed the blue package from the box. I ripped it open with my teeth and took the cap off the test. I nervously dipped the test in the cup of urine just out of camera view. I held the test window up to the camera so Sara could see it.
We both talked and laughed, nervously awaiting the results. A few minutes later, to both of our surprise, the test read in big bold letters: ‘PREGNANT!’ We both jumped with excitement! I couldn’t believe it. For the second month in a row, I was pregnant!
A few days later, I went to have blood work done and I was confirmed pregnant. ‘Come back at six weeks for your first ultrasound!’ they said. Boy, did those weeks dragggggggggg! Every day I wondered, ‘Is there one baby or two? Will I miscarry? Will there be a heartbeat?’
The day finally came! We drove to our fertility clinic hopeful but remaining realistic. I laid back on the table and watched the image appear on the screen. Immediately, I saw two dark sacks. I turned my head to look at my husband and smile. The ultrasound tech said, ‘We’ve got TWINS!!!’
We spent the next several months waiting and preparing, counting each and every milestone. 15 weeks, 20 weeks, 24 weeks. Once we reached viability week at 24 weeks, it felt like the weight had been lifted off our chests.
At 31 weeks, I started having a lot of pressure. I had been previously diagnosed with a short cervix, so pressure wasn’t abnormal for me. But I decided to get checked anyways. I went to the OB emergency room at the local hospital and they checked me for dilation. I was 4 centimeters dilated at 31 weeks and 4 days pregnant, and I had no idea!
It felt like someone had hit fast forward on a VCR. Nurses and doctors all started running around me. ‘What’s going on? Should I call my husband?’ I asked my primary nurse. ‘You’re going to have these babies soon! Yes, call him now!’ I called him and told him to grab my hospital bag that I packed just a few nights before.
My OBGYN came in. ‘Hey, I hear these babies aren’t waiting! Do you want to deliver here, or do you want to be transferred downtown where they are more equipped for premature babies?’ she asked.
‘Um… I’d like to be transferred. Just in case something goes wrong I’d like to be there since they transfer the babies there anyway.’ I said nervously
She walked swiftly out to get the paperwork started. A few minutes later, my nurse came in.
‘There are no ambulances available to take you downtown right now, so we’re going to have to life flight you to the hospital.’ She said.
‘Of course, my babies will enter the world as dramatic as their mama.’ I thought.
I called my husband to let him know about the changes. I told him to meet me downtown, and before I knew it, I was in the air. When I arrived at the hospital, the doctors already had a game plan. They decided to wait a few more days and put me on medication to try and stop my contractions. Two days had passed and my contractions were just as strong as ever, so they decided to go ahead and deliver my twins via C-section as planned.
On April 17th, 2021, I gave birth to my twin girls, Journee and Destinee, at 3 lbs. 3 oz. and 3 lbs. 8 oz. All the hard work, all the tears we had cried – it finally all made sense. Since they were born nine weeks early, they did have to spend some time in the NICU. After spending a couple days recovering from my C-section, I was discharged.
I couldn’t wait to get home to see Ezra! Not being able to pick him up and love on him was so hard. But I was just happy to see his face in person instead of on a screen. Trying to balance my time recovering with my son and in the NICU was so hard! But in the end, it was all worth it.
After 31 days, my girls came home! Such a long JOURNEE to get to our DESTINEE. The girls are now 8-months-old, and weigh 15 pounds each. They are crawling, pulling up, and love to eat! Ezra is an active two-and-a-half-year-old big brother and is loving every minute of it. If you thought we got rude comments and stares when we had Ezra, imagine how it is now. Me, a black woman, with a black husband, who carried and GAVE BIRTH to twin white and Hispanic babies, that we are now raising. It’s fun to keep people guessing.
I’ll never be able to express my gratitude to God, our donors, our family, and our incredible support system. If you’re struggling with infertility, don’t give up hope. You have options.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Sadie and Jarvis Sampson. You can follow their journey on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.