‘She doesn’t know how special she is yet’
Jamie Byrd gazed lovingly at her newborn child, Kinsley Grace, and reflected on the journey she and her husband Corey have taken to get here.
“She doesn’t know how special she is yet,” Jamie said, “or how many prayers she’s had for her over the years.”
For years, the Destrehan couple desperately hoped to have a child of their own, but seemingly insurmountable obstacles stood in their way. A visit to her OBGYN revealed a diagnosis of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which causes cysts on the ovaries that make it difficult, if not impossible, to ovulate.
But they’ve overcome it, and now their little bundle of joy is here.
“Everything that people complain about, the lack of sleep … we’re just taking in every moment of it and enjoying it all,” Corey said. “We’re just absorbing every single moment with this little miracle we have.”
For the Byrds, Jamie’s diagnosis was a particularly devastating blow. Jamie is a nurse at the oncology ward of Children’s Hospital in New Orleans, caring for children battling cancer, and has noted she considers all of the children her own. Corey, likewise, has a love for children, yet circumstance denied them a child of their own, with two pregnancies resulting in miscarriage.
“The harder it gets, the more you want it to happen and pray for it to happen,” Corey said. “We’d always wanted our own family.”
After many attempts to treat and reverse her condition were unsuccessful, the couple turned their attention to the option of In Vitro Fertilization, a complex series of procedures used to treat fertility or genetic problems and assist with the conception of a child. During that process, mature eggs are retrieved from the ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab.
It was an expensive option, but the couple felt they had to try. With the help of friends, family and others in the community, money was raised through garage sales and a GoFundMe page, eventually making the way for the Byrds to pursue the procedure.
But the process didn’t work, and the two thought their last chance to conceive a child of their own had been exhausted.
“I was done,” Jamie said. “I wasn’t going to do anything else.”
Added Corey, “Because of the expense of it all, we knew we could really only try it the one time. We thought the next step was going to be adoption.”
Instead, they found a glimmer of hope that evolved into a life-changing event. While on a walk in New Orleans for people who have experienced infertility to support each other and share their experiences, someone let the Byrds know about an option they hadn’t known about: embryo transplant, a process of assisted reproduction in which embryos are placed into the uterus of a female with the intent to establish a pregnancy.
After exploring the option, the Byrds decided to pursue it, and a clinic put them in touch with a couple who were willing to allow someone to adopt their embryos—after that couple went through their own successful In Vitro Fertilization process, there were 14 embryos, leading to them keeping two and adopting the remaining 12 to three different families.
“Them being able to make that decision on such a personal level, it’s pretty amazing for them to give them to someone else, and we’re so happy she did,” Jamie said.
After an interview process, it became clear that the Byrds were a match for what that couple were looking for.
“They wanted a couple who would raise their child as they would,” Jamie said. “The questioning was intense but we understood. We had a lot of emotional talks about beliefs and everything else you could imagine.”
Still, the Byrds weren’t taking anything for granted. Corey said the wait was stressful to see if the process would work or not, noting several stories have been shared of times it had not worked for others.
“Jamie took pregnancy tests and they came out a little darker each day. We went to ultrasounds …,” Corey began.
Jamie finished his sentence by saying, “Every day and hurdle cleared was a celebration.”
Perhaps fittingly, little Kinsley Grace didn’t rush onto the scene. After 40 weeks of pregnancy, a Cesarean section was ordered. Kinsley also wasn’t so little after all: she was nine pounds, four ounces at birth.
“After three hours of pushing, she was kind of stuck (before the C-section),” Corey said. “She wasn’t coming out easy and when she came out, you just heard the nurse say, ‘Holy Moly!’ We’re wondering, what does that mean? They’re not talking about our daughter, are they?”
Jamie added with a laugh, “She looked like a toddler, but she’s lost a little weight since then.”
The moment had arrived, and both admit Kinsley Grace was well worth the wait.
“Seeing her, holding her and knowing she’s ours … after the roller coaster of emotions we’ve gone through, it was indescribable,” Jamie said.
Her middle name reflects their journey.
“We wanted something to signify something thankful, something special happening. Kinsley Grace just all kind of flowed perfectly,” Corey said.