Grey's Anatomy Universe Wiki
Grey's Anatomy Universe Wiki

There's this Bible story. Two women both claim to be the mother of the same child. King Solomon had to choose. Two mothers, only one gets the kid. Solomon came up with a plan. He proposed a 50/50 split. Literally. He offered to chop the kid in half. It all ends if one mom relinquishes her custody, or else they both stand their ground, and the kid gets torn apart. If you're wondering how the Solomon story ends, spoiler alert. The true mom would rather give her baby up than have it ripped in two. But what happens when there are two true mothers? That's a no win situation. That is an entirely different story.

Mama Tried is the twenty-second episode of the twelfth season and the 267th overall episode of Grey's Anatomy.

Short Summary[]

Callie and Arizona are at odds over Sofia's future, and Stephanie questions the status of her relationship with Kyle. Meanwhile, Alex and April work on a pregnant teen who is readmitted to Grey Sloan Memorial.

Full Summary[]

Meredith's voice over talks about the story of king Solomon. Two mothers claimed to be the mother of the same child. Solomon had a solution: one of them had to relinquish her custody, or he'd cut the kid in half.

Arizona and Callie are with their respective lawyers. The lawyers are on the phone with each other. Lucinda, Arizona's lawyer, lets Michelle know Arizona is open to scheduled visitation every other weekend. Callie says Sofia can't take a 6-hour flight by herself twice a month, so that's a hard no. Arizona thinks the other party is shooting everything down because they are unreasonable. Lucinda says they only have 12 hours to settle, and Callie's witness line-up is better. Arizona suggests they put April on the stand, but Lucinda says that's a wild card, so no. She hopes Webber is good. Michelle offers to allow Arizona to visit Sofia over school breaks and during summer. Arizona refuses to take that compromise and she and Callie almost start shouting at each other, but the lawyers mute their phones. Lucinda tells Arizona that if they go to trial, Arizona can lose it all. Arizona is painfully aware of that, but she finds the offer insulting, so Lucinda refuses it. Michelle then tells her they'll see them in court.

Callie is already awake as her alarm goes off.

Callie and Penny drop off Sofia at the sisters' house. Maggie welcomes her and Sofia goes to play with toys. Meredith will be down any minute. Maggie asks Callie if Sofia knows what's going on, but Callie says they've decided to talk to her once they know what's going on. Meredith is ready to go now. Callie hugs Sofia and tells her she's going to miss her. Meredith has to take Callie away from Sofia, whom Maggie takes to go find Zola. Meredith, Callie, and Penny leave.

Arizona and Alex are in a trauma room with Jennifer and Tara Parker. April comes in and Jennifer tells her she fell while doing dishes. Alex will stitch up the cuts. Arizona checks on the baby, who is fine. Alex sees some free fluid, which might be blood or amniotic fluid. Alex has to do a small surgery to look around with a scope. Arizona says she can't be there, but Dr. Russo will be there to monitor the baby. April will be in there, too. Arizona warns Alex that Russo can be old school, but Alex tells her to go now.

Jo and Stephanie are scrubbing while talking about Stephanie dumping Kyle with a note. Stephanie admits it was not her best move. Jo reminds her Kyle is great, and has a great butt.

Arizona arrives at the courthouse. Richard has coffee for her and asks how she's feeling. He tells her it'll be tough, but she has to look past the pain to see what she'll have in the end. It's similar to what she tells laboring moms. Callie, Penny, and Michelle go inside.

The judge states they're here for a custody modification of a minor between divorced parents. The witness pool is shared by both parents, so every witness will be called to the stand once, and every side will get their chance to examine the witness. Owen comes in late. The judge reminds everyone they are all on the side of the child. She knows the trial is hard on all parties and there will be hard things, so she asks the mothers if they both are sure they want to proceed. They are. The judge then says the court is now in session to determine sole physical custody of Sofia Robbin Sloan Torres.

Owen is on the stand, talking about their veteran project. Richard whispers to Andrew that they're smart to pull the charity and veteran card. Owen says Callie participated because she cares. She's very helpful and empathetic. He feels the move is not sudden for Callie. This is who she is. Situations like this inspire her. She just jumps in, and makes the best of a tough situation with grace. He admires that. Michelle has no further questions.

Lucinda asks Andrew if he ever expected to be living with a kid. He wasn't at first, but Sofia is a blast. Sofia makes their place happy. They see so much dark stuff at work, so it's nice to come home to a happy kid.

Lucinda asks Penny if she loves Sofia. Penny says she's come to, yes. They met a few months ago. In those months, she has gotten to know Sofia very well. Lucinda asks her what Sofia's favorite color is. Penny says blue. Michelle objects as she deems this irrelevant, but Lucinda explains she's trying to establish the relationship between Penny and Sofia. The judge allows it. Penny then lists several facts about Sofia to prove she knows Sofia.

In the OR, Alex and April are working on Jennifer. Alex says he's not in court as he has seen enough people fighting over kids. April's had enough fighting over her own kid, who's not even born yet. Alex has located the free fluid as Dr. Russo comes in. It looks like amniotic fluid. Russo says the uterus is perforated and takes over from Alex. He says the pregnancy has become non-viable. Russo can try to repair with a plasma patch, which he deems the best option. Alex finds it curious he just changed his mind in 5 seconds, but Russo says he's the OB here, while Alex is a peds surgeon. April says the patch sounds best. Alex leaves to go update the mom.

Alex finds Tara and tells her Jenny's doing great. Russo is repairing the leak, and the baby is healthy and still in utero, which is what they want at 24 weeks. Alex has her sign another consent form. Tara says she had a feeling this morning. She returned home and found Jennifer on the floor, bleeding. Alex says it was good she did.

Lucinda asks Penny about her schedule. Penny says it's a research schedule, so more predictable than a surgical resident schedule. Lucinda asks what Sofia was wearing this morning. Penny doesn't remember exactly. Lucinda asks her what grade Sofia is in. Penny says second, but then corrects herself. She's in first grade. Meredith leaves. Lucinda doesn't understand Penny doesn't know what grade the kid she's going to co-parent is in. Michelle objects, as it's badgering and irrelevant. Lucinda recalls Penny said she's only known Sofia for a couple of months. Penny says she knows what grade Sofia is in. Lucinda has no further questions.

Penny and Callie are waiting for the lawyer in a private room. Michelle comes in and says that was really bad, but it doesn't kill them yet. Michelle says they got smarter moves. Meredith will be on the stand tomorrow, so they can remain confident.

Bailey is on the stand, as Arizona and Callie's boss. Michelle asks her how the schedules of an orthopedic and fetal surgery differ. Bailey says it varies and says there's no comparison when it comes to unscheduled procedures. Michelle says there's the unpredictability of childbirth. Bailey objects and says that's speculation, but she can't do that. Lucinda objects as it's speculation, but Michelle says it only is if they question Bailey's expertise. Bailey admits Arizona's schedule can be unpredictable. Michelle has a document that lists Callie and Arizona's unscheduled surgeries for the past 6 months. Callie did 27, Arizona 92. Bailey says it's wildly successful, and she wouldn't put a woman's success in the con column. Michelle says Arizona dropped everything, including Sofia, 92 times for her job. Bailey says Arizona was saving babies so parents wouldn't lose their children. Lucinda tells Arizona they're trying to turn her strength into weakness, but that shouldn't discourage her. The judge adjourns the court until tomorrow.

Tara's having a bed set up for her in Jennifer's room. Arizona comes in to check on Jennifer. Arizona says the plasma patch was a good call. She and Alex leave the room. Arizona wants to see the post-up ultrasound to make sure the leak is sealed. Alex asks if she shouldn't be at home to get ready for court. Arizona says she should be, but she will do that as soon as she's reviewed the ultrasound.

Stephanie, Jo, and Ben are at the bar talking about the courtroom. Jo is depressed as no parent ever fought for her. Stephanie regrets breaking up with Kyle. She decides to call him. Jo tries the trick of 10 seconds of talking allowed, but Stephanie ignores her. It's not drunk dialing, it's her undoing her mistake. Jo takes away her phone.

At a table, Jackson and April are making decisions about their own custody arrangement. It all goes very smooth. Jackson can be there when the baby's born. They'll split the weeks until the baby's older, and then they'll switch to every other week as it's easier on the child. April gets Easter, as long as she also does Easter egg hunts. April gives him the Superbowl and Halloween. They'll switch off for Christmas and respect their plan. No fighting.

Callie's on the phone with Sofia before she goes to bed. She's in bed with Meredith with bottles of wine and tequila. Callie says she felt gross in court and no amount of booze can wash it away. Meredith decides to stay with her until Penny's back, since her kids are asleep anyway. Callie fears she's had her last night with Sofia. Callie says she's doing this all wrong. Meredith says Mark used to say that. He'd always call her for advice as he didn't want Callie and Arizona to find out. Callie says Mark would find this unacceptable. Callie lies awake at night, thinking she started something she shouldn't have. She shouldn't have to choose between the two people she loves. She really tried not to love Penny. 

Arizona drops off Sofia's at the sisters' house, but Sofia doesn't want to go. She wants to go with Arizona. Arizona says she'll be back soon and tells Sofia she loves her. Sofia says that she hates Arizona. Amelia says they'll make waffles and assures Arizona she'll be okay.

Alex is worried over Jennifer, but Russo wants to watch and wait. He's thinking about texting Arizona. April says she's got enough on her plate. She asks Alex to let her know when there are signs of fetal distress.

Meredith is on the stand. She says Sofia and Callie couldn't be closer. She knows Sofia loves Penny. Sofia is always open to good people, and Penny is a very good person. It's Lucinda's turn to examine her. She says it must be nice to have daughters of the same age. Meredith says they love playing together. The kids are with their aunt now. Lucinda condolences her with the recent loss of her husband. Meredith and Callie are single parents, so they must help each other out a lot. Meredith says they do need help sometimes, so they lean on each other. It's not bad parenting. It takes a village, and they have a village. Lucinda says that village is here in Seattle, and now Callie wants to take her away from that. Meredith didn't mean that, but Lucinda cuts her off, saying she has no further questions.

Richard talks about how good a surgeon Arizona is, so she's a role model parent. It's now Michelle's turn. She asks if they have gotten close over the years. Richard says yes. Michelle then asks if he's a trivia buff. He says yes and confirms he and Arizona have enjoyed trivia nights. He also confirms Arizona drinks and flirt. Michelle has a list of the times they won trivia night. They won 25 times, so that's 25 times Arizona left Sofia to go out and have drinks. Michelle has a transcript of text messages from Arizona to Callie, asking her to take Sofia unexpectedly. Arizona explains to her lawyer she and Callie swap all the time. Richard reads from the document that Arizona asked Callie to switch 34 times. They were at least out for drinks 25 times, and in addition to the unscheduled surgeries, Arizona has about 150 times in 6 months, 180 days, that she wasn't there for Sofia. Lucinda objects and requests a short recess.

In a private room, Arizona is upset Callie is slut-shaming her. They made her look like she's an irresponsible mother. Lucinda says Arizona has her chance now to set the story straight. If she tells the truth, she'll win this.

On the stand, Callie talks about the day Sofia was born. She was in a car accident. She remembers waking up on the hood of the car. She tears up and says she was barely conscious. She felt pain all over. She could have died right then and there, but she couldn't give up because she was pregnant. She had to fight to stay alive for her daughter. Being a mother is the reason she's still alive today.

Russo and Nathan are checking on Jennifer. Her blood pressure is borderline low, but her cardiac function looks good, meaning she's cleared for surgery. Alex and April come in and ask what surgery. Russo has decided to deliver the baby as Jennifer's still leaking amniotic fluid. Jennifer says it's too soon. Alex asks to see Russo outside.

Alex reminds Russo there's a small chance the baby will survive outside the womb, but Russo has made up his mind. They're doing this. Tara comes out of the room. In order to keep telling her daughter she'll be okay, she needs to make sure the doctors have done everything they can to keep her daughter and grandchild alive. She goes back to her daughter. Alex says Arizona wouldn't deliver. April says there's no other available option and says she'll see him in surgery. Ben asks Alex if Arizona is an option. He says no.

Arizona is on the stand. Michelle says the pregnancy is not agreement she agreed to enter, since she was not together with Callie when she got pregnant. Callie entered that agreement with Mark. Arizona says she and Callie were together before and after Sofia's conception. Arizona's phone goes off, but Lucinda declines the call. Arizona firmly states she didn't just come around. She's Sofia's mother. She legally adopted her. Michelle points out Sofia's last names are Sloan and Torres. Arizona stops her, for her own sake. She's not any less Sofia's mother because they don't share the same DNA. That's offensive to anyone who has an adopted child or was adopted themselves. Arizona's phone keeps going off. Arizona says she chose motherhood. It was the best choice she's ever made. She then says she has to answer her phone. The bailiff hands Arizona her phone. It's April with a 911 for Jennifer. Michelle asks if she's got somewhere more important to be. Arizona says yes. She's sorry. She tears up and says that she loves her child and she wants her with her, but she knows that no matter how this ends, Sofia will survive and be healthy and safe and well taken care of and loved, because she and Callie are Sofia's mothers. But, there's a child at the hospital that won't survive unless she's there, so she has to go. She gets up and leaves the courtroom.

In the OR, Russo is through the uterine wall. Arizona is scrubbing in. Alex tried to stop him, but he wouldn't listen. He's close to cutting the cord. Arizona swears and enters the OR. She says there's a change of plans. She greets Tara and Jennifer and asks Russo to stop. Tara wants to know what's going on. Arizona tells them she's going to put the baby back in. Russo objects as there's not enough amniotic fluid left. Arizona will fill the depleted uterus with lactated Ringer's solution. The baby will be fine. Ben says they should hurry. Alex and Arizona side with Arizona, as it increases the baby's survival chances. Tara consents. Arizona asks Russo to scrub out. Once he's gone, they show Tara her grandbaby, and she tells Jennifer it's a girl. The baby looks just like Jennifer when she was a baby. Arizona then gets ready to put the baby back in the uterus.

Outside the courthouse, Callie sits down on a bench with Arizona. Callie tells her that no matter what the judge decides, she knows Arizona is a good mother, too. This won't change that. Arizona says the things Callie let them say about her, she would have never done that to Callie. Penny comes over and says the judge is ready for them.

All rise as the judge enters the room. They sit down and the judge says she's taken all the testimonies and evidence under submission. After careful consideration, her ruling is as follows. She starts dictating her ruling.

Alex leaves Jennifer's room. Jennifer's awake and well. Outside the room, he joins Richard, Stephanie, Bailey, and Owen. All of them are waiting for a text from either Arizona or Callie. All their phones go off as Stephanie walks off.

Stephanie enters the ER and sees Kyle's name on the board. She rushes to the trauma room, where Jo and Amelia are examining Kyle. Amelia orders a stat CT with contrast. Stephanie asks why she wasn't paged. Jo tells her Kyle passed out, and they suspect meningitis. Kyle tells Stephanie she's not his doctor so he wants her to go. Stephanie leaves.

Meredith's voice over talks about the ending of Solomon's story while Meredith walks Sofia to the front door of her house. One mother did relinquish her custody as she'd rather give up her kid than see it cut in half. Solomon then decided she was the real mother, and gave her full custody. Meredith opens the front door and Sofia hugs Arizona. Meredith's voice over wonders what if there are two real mothers. Once the door is closed, Meredith returns to a crying Callie in the kitchen and comforts her as Callie wonders how this could have happened. Meredith hugs Callie as Penny takes Callie's hand, but Callie pulls away.

Outside, Arizona is hugging Sofia and stroking her hair as she stares into the distance. Sofia asks if they can go home now. Arizona says they sure can, and they walk off. Meredith's voice over says it's a whole different story then.


Main Cast[]

Guest Stars[]


Medical Notes[]

Jennifer Parker[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Pregnancy
    • Perforated uterus
  • Treatment:
    • Plasma patch

Jennifer, 14, came into the ER 24 weeks pregnant after a fall. The baby had a healthy heartbeat, but she had free fluid in her abdomen. They took her to check if it was blood or amniotic fluid. Because Arizona wasn't able to be with her, Russo took over her case as he was the OB on call. They took her into the OR and found that her uterus was perforated and it was amniotic fluid in her abdomen. Russo wanted to deliver, but then suggested a plasma patch to patch the hole and prolong the pregnancy. Overnight, her mean pressure went down. Russo wanted to watch and wait. Russo then decided he needed to deliver. Nathan checked her heart and cleared her to have surgery. She went in for a c-section, but Arizona arrived shortly after Russo had made the incision. She said that she'd put the baby back and fill the uterus with lactated ringers to give her more time. She did so and was able to keep Jenny pregnant. She was stable after her surgery.

Kyle Diaz[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Multiple sclerosis
    • Meningitis


Kyle came into the ER with possible meningitis after passing out.


Song Performer Scene
"Nothing Compares 2 U" Prince
  • Jackson and April discuss future custody of their child.
  • Callie says goodnight to Sofia on the phone.
  • She talks to Meredith about court.
  • Callie wonders if last night was her last night with Sofia.
  • Meredith tells Callie Mark used to call her all the time when Sofia was a baby and he had problems.
  • Callie says Mark would hate the custody fight.
"Rise Up" Andra Day
  • Tara tells Jenny about her baby.
  • Arizona puts the baby back in Jenny's uterus.
  • Arizona waits on a bench outside the court room.
  • Callie sits next to her and tells her she's a good mom, too.
  • Arizona says she wouldn't have let them say things about her like she did about Arizona.
  • Penny tells them the judge is ready.
  • She grants full custody.
  • The doctors wait to hear about the decision. Their phones go off.
  • Stephanie sees that Kyle's in the ER.
  • Kyle says he doesn't want Stephanie there.
  • Meredith leads Sofia to the door so Arizona can pick her up.
  • Callie cries and asks how it happened.
  • She pulls away from Penny's offered hand.
  • Sofia asks Arizona if they can go home and Arizona says they can.

Notes and Trivia[]


Grey's Anatomy 12x22 Promo "Mama Tried" (HD)

  • This episode's title originated from the song Mama Tried, originally sung by Merle Haggard.
  • This episode scored 7.66 million viewers.
  • The table read for this episode took place on March 22, 2016.
  • Using a song by Prince was a tribute to the artist, who passed away a few weeks before the episode aired. Shonda Rhimes is a big Prince fan.
  • The courtroom set is the courtroom they use on How to Get Away with Murder.
  • This episode is the last one to feature a scene with both Callie and Meredith in it.


Episode Stills[]

Behind the Scenes[]


Callie: No matter what the judge decides, I know that you're a good mom, too. And I just want you to know this doesn't change that.
Arizona: The things you let them say about me, I would never have done that to you. Never.

Michelle: Doctor Robbins's schedule is dictated by the unpredictable nature of childbirth, is it not?
Miranda: Objection. Speculation.
Michelle: She can't do that.
Judge Kane: You can't do that.
Miranda: Oh.

Lucinda: Callie drops Sofia off at your place sometimes when she has to work or when she has plans or when she needs a night off. Correct?
Meredith: A "night off"? Being a mom isn't a job. We don't punch in and punch out. There are no nights off. We are both single parents. That's not a dirty word. But we do need help getting our kids to where they need to be with all of their limbs intact. So we lean on each other. That's not a sign of weakness or bad parenting, if that's where you're going with this. It takes a village, and we have a village.
Lucinda: Here in Seattle.
Meredith: What?
Lucinda: The village you just mentioned, the seamless support system these mothers built, this essential network. It's all here in Seattle. Sofia's friends and her school, her teachers. Her home is here in Seattle. That's what Sofia would be leaving.

Callie: I was in a car accident.
Michelle: Can you tell us what you remember about the accident?
Callie: I don't remember much, but I remember... I remember waking up on the hood of the car and I was covered in glass. I was, um, barely... I'm so sorry.
Michelle: Take all the time you need.
Callie: I was barely conscious, um, and the only thing that I could feel was just pain all over. I could have died on the hood of that car. And I wanted to give up. But I couldn't because I was pregnant with Sofia. And if I died, she died. So... I had to fight to stay alive, for my daughter's sake. Being a mother is the reason I'm still alive today.

Michelle: Just to be clear, Dr. Sloan and Dr. Torres were Sofia's parents and then you came around.
Arizona: No, I didn't "come around." I'm Sofia's mother. I legally adopted her.
Michelle: Her last names are Sloan and Torres.
Arizona: I'm gonna have to stop you before you continue for your own sake. You're not going to imply that I'm any less Sofia's mother because we don't share the same DNA. Because that would be offensive. It would be offensive to anyone in the room who has an adopted child or is an adopted child, and for you to say that. I chose to be Sofia's mother! It did not fall into my lap. There was a choice, and I could stay or I could run, and I chose motherhood. And it was the best choice that I ever made.

Arizona: I love my child, and I want her with me, but I know that, no matter how this ends, she'll survive. She'll be healthy and safe and well-taken care of and loved. Because we are her mothers. But there's a child at the hospital who will not survive unless I am there, so I have to... I have to go.

Jo: You had to choose between doctor and girlfriend. You made the right choice.
Stephanie: Thank you.
Jo: However, there are countless other brains to cut into but a limited number of butts like his.

See Also[]

A complete overview of this episode's crew can be found here.