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After a five-year journey, a blessed birth

It was the Day 7 embryo that finally took root. “He passed every milestone, from sac development to heartbeat. We started calling him Baby Seven. It’s a powerful number, God’s number,” Tamara says.

Tamara and Devon DeGrasse with baby Seven.
Tamara and Devon DeGrasse with baby Seven.Read moreBella Baby Photography

THE PARENTS: Tamara DeGrasse, 40, and Devon DeGrasse, 36, of Boothwyn

THE CHILD: Seven Parker, born June 12, 2022

AN OMEN: At their wedding, after the vows, they released a pair of homing doves, which mate for life. In the middle of the reception, Tamara called the birds’ keeper to find out if they’d made it home. The answer was yes.

The frozen embryo — the one that had developed in a petri dish until Day 7, then went to a lab for testing — was their last possibility. But the reproductive endocrinologist cautioned, “Don’t have your hopes up.”

It was their fourth IVF cycle. Earlier attempts, using Tamara’s eggs and immature, non-swimming sperm extracted from Devon, ended with embryos that failed to develop outside the womb, or that were transferred to Tamara’s uterus but never grew.

They’d used cash reserves and loans, gift money from their parents, and a grant from Baby Quest. They’d considered — after the unsuccessful third round of IVF — abandoning their five-year journey to conceive.

“It was crushing,” Tamara recalls. “This was our only option. We’re out of money and we’re out of stamina and this is all we have left. We did the transfer and went on a camping trip two days later. It was our little hidden secret.”

Back at home, she took a drugstore test. “It was 8 a.m. I remember looking at myself in the mirror, with my jaw hanging: Holy crap. I remember waking Devon up. He said, ‘There’s two lines. What does that mean?’ I said, ‘I think that means we’re pregnant.’ ”

A visit to the fertility clinic confirmed the pregnancy. “We immediately said a thank-you prayer,” Tamara says. They told their parents right away, but waited 12 weeks to share the news with other relatives and friends at a “gender-bender” party with the guys dressed in wigs and the women costumed as men.

One guest would attempt to open a wrapped gift while wearing mittens as the next person rolled dice; if they landed a 7 or an 11, they could grab the gift and take over the unwrapping. Inside the box was a copy of the first ultrasound image.

“That was the reveal,” Tamara says. Once the news was out, guests swarmed them in a joyful hug.

Tamara and Devon love to tell the story of how they did — and didn’t — meet. It took three tries: the first spotting in 2006, when Devon leafed through a magazine in a barbershop and saw a two-page spread headlined “Singer, songwriter, artist from Philadelphia.”

“I thought: Why does this young lady have an entire spread? Who is she? She’s got to be someone important.”

They met in person two years later, at a Caribbean carnival in Washington, where they talked but didn’t exchange numbers. The next day, Devon drove by the same park, spotted Tamara again, and hopped out of the car, even more determined this time.

When he began to key his number into her phone, his name popped up in her list of contacts. “I thought: How do you have my name? We have to talk,” Devon says.

They spent the next two weeks trying to retrace their parallel paths and finally figured out that they’d met and chatted months earlier, at a nightclub in St. Croix. “We thought: We’re stuck with each other. Are the stars going to align soon?” Tamara says.

Even though she describes their personalities as “yin and yang — I’m more of an empath; he’s more of a realist” — and even though Devon was startled to learn Tamara was four years older, this final encounter proved to be the tipping point.

“One of the things that made me take him seriously was that he said, ‘I’m looking for a wife,’ ” Tamara recalls.

For a while, Devon squeezed his college classes in New York into four days so he could spend long weekends in Boothwyn, where Tamara had just bought her first house. Later, a family friend who owned a Wilmington hair salon passed away. “I inherited the salon and thought: OK, it’s a done deal. I should just stay here.”

He proposed on Christmas Day 2013, at the end of an ice-skating session at the River Rink. They were the only two left, and Tamara was about to exit the ice when she realized Devon had fallen. “I looked back, and he looked really hurt. I skated back to him; he was in full-blown tears.”

She realized later that he wasn’t weeping from pain; he was thinking of his best friend, who had recently died, and of the words he was about to say. “Marry Me” by Jason Derulo piped over the PA system, and Devon sank to one knee on the ice.

“I was in snotty tears,” Tamara remembers.

They married on Sunday, June 28, 2015, exactly six years after the picnic at which they’d finally swapped phone numbers. The night before the ceremony, they sneaked into the ballroom at 3 a.m. and, with a tiny cell phone spotlight, practiced their dance moves to Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” segueing from ballroom to salsa for “I Need Your Love.”

“I’m pretty spiritual. I believe that your children choose you,” Tamara says. After trying on their own — being so intentional with timing that Devon complained, “You’re taking the romance out of it” — they sought fertility help. That led to testing, sober evaluations of Tamara’s eggs, and a sperm extraction procedure for Devon.

It was the Day 7 embryo that finally took root. “He passed every milestone, from sac development to heartbeat. We started calling him Baby Seven. It’s a powerful number, God’s number,” Tamara says.

And when he was born — via a “gentle Caesarean” after a two-day induction failed to yield any progress — they brought music into the operating room. While doctors made the incision, they played “Free” by Perri Jones. And when they lifted Seven — he began to cry when his head and one shoulder emerged — the song was “Blessed” by WizKid with Damian Marley. The surgeon was tapping one foot to the beat.

“I was in awe,” Devon remembers. “The music was touching, and I started tearing up: Wow. I can’t believe we just brought life into this world.”