My Unexpected Journey to Motherhood :: A Chronicle {How I Became a Mother}

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We would like to thank Children’s of Alabama for partnering with us on our “How I Became a Mother” series. Every time a baby is born in Birmingham, Children’s of Alabama is there to offer support. Ranked among the best pediatric medical centers in the nation, we are thankful to have this state-of-the-art facility and these compassionate care providers available to Birmingham families.


I had big plans for my life. I was always lofty, always idealistic, never thinking my life wouldn’t go exactly how I saw it in my mind. 

Those plans never included being a mother. Ever.

August 2001 – October 2004: In college, I was on the fast-track to law school. I had determined my “lawyer life” down to the color of my first courtroom power suit! Everything was running like a pretty well-oiled machine . . . until my second semester of freshman year when I was diagnosed with cancer. I was able to have surgery to remove the cancer, but I had to take time off from school to recover. I was severely anemic, but after the minimum (and I mean bare-minimum) month-long recovery, I was determined to return to classes and keep my grades up. I returned too quickly. Although I had worked hard to maintain my GPA, my absences stole the show and I was forced to repeat that semester. My dreams went up in a blaze, and I sank into a deep depression for several months. I moved back home and enrolled at a different college to try and recoup what I felt I had lost, but after two years, I still could not find my groove. It wasn’t the right time. 

A year later, my groove was renewed and I found my niche in paralegal school. Ahhh . . . visions of courtrooms and power suits began to dance in my head again! I was healthy, the healthiest I had ever been in my life. Things were going so well for me. And then, this guy asked me out.

And everything changed.

September 2006 – October 2008: I finished paralegal school with honors and a great job offer; however, to keep with the tradition of nothing going as planned, I worked a very brief time in the actual legal field. By this time, I had been dating this great guy for almost four years and was extremely happy and in love. On April 12, 2008, he popped the question and yet again, life took me down another unfamiliar — but this time, very comfortable — road. We were married on October 4, 2008 and began a sweet life together. 

He knew that I was anxious about having children, and I often questioned whether or not I would even be able to have children, due to my previous cancer and a couple of other health-related issues. We talked about it, but I just never was ready. I asked him to give me a few years and he happily complied. 

May 2012. I was on my way to a birthday party in Florida with my mom and I became deathly sick. I thought it was food poisoning from a Whopper, Jr. at Burger King, but I soon discovered that I had suffered a miscarriage. I can honestly say, that was the most gut-wrenching, sinkingly-sick, traumatizing, emotional experience of my life. I wasn’t planning for children just yet, and already I had lost one?! I cried and worried, and cried some more. Just like everything else, life happened. When that fateful little baby left us, he/she had helped me realize that I was at a place where motherhood might be something I wanted for myself. We prayed a lot. 

September 2012. I started craving soy sauce, by the bottle. I was emotional — I cried watching Short Circuit. Who does that? I knew that I was either dying or pregnant. Sure enough — two little lines on my First Response made me a happy, nervous mess! At our first doctor appointment, I was placed in the “high risk” category, which I fully expected. By the grace of God, the only two complications I had were pregnancy-induced hypertension and a low fluid level at the end of my pregnancy. I worked up until bed rest came calling, about three weeks before our sweet girl was born. I had full intentions of being a “career mom”. I loved my job and had no intentions of leaving — we will come back to this notion in a moment. 

April 2013. I went in for a routine check-up and my doctor said “Call your husband; you’re having a baby tomorrow!” I was so excited and not at all scared. I was so happy that I would finally meet the little person we had called “Muffin” for so long. On April 10th, my life took another unexpected turn . . . I met the sweetest, most beautiful little precious baby girl in the entire universe — no, I am not partial at all! (Insert humorous sarcasm here.) My maternity leave was blissful; holding that sweet baby all the time, talking to her, feeding her, and even changing diapers put me on Cloud 9! I loved being home with her, so much! Too much . . . my  career mom plans were unraveling!

June 2013. I went back to work on a Friday. It was a beautiful sunny day, but I felt kind of cloudy and gloomy inside. I was happy to see my work friends, but so sad to leave my sweet angel behind. I called my mom to see how my baby was doing, which they say you should never do. My mom put the phone up to my baby’s ear and as soon as she heard my voice, she began to cry. The cry said, “I miss you, Mommy! I want you with me. I need you with me.” At that moment, I knew what my life meant. I realized that life is not something you plan, it is something that happens; and if you’re too busy, it will pass you by. I put in my notice that next Monday and never looked back. It has been four years since I began the most fulfilling, rewarding, crazy, ever-unpredictable — and definitely unexpected — journey of motherhood.

And I couldn’t have planned it better myself. 

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Shay currently resides in her hometown of Gardendale, Alabama. She shares her life with her loving husband, Byron, their spunky four-year-old daughter, Hayley Grace, and an American Bobtail cat named Leo. Shay attended Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama, where she majored in English and minored in History and Political Science. She earned her Paralagal Degree in 2006. In addition to her family, Shay enjoys reading, writing, cooking, arts and crafts, event planning, and spending time with friends. She is an active member at her church, teaching children's Bible classes and co-sponsoring a young girls' program that teaches Christian service and etiquette. Being Hayley Grace's Mommy is, by far, Shay's greatest joy! She hopes her contributions to Birmingham Moms Blog will be uplifting and encouraging to her readers.