The former child star shares her story exclusively with PEOPLE

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Though Drew Sidora has made a career of playing larger-than-life characters on That’s So Raven, The Game and Hindsight –, her life off-camera is just as worthy of a Hollywood script.

From a broken engagement with a man keeping dark secrets to finding hope in her son, meeting her “knight in shining armor” and weaving together a new family, Sidora exclusively shares her journey with PEOPLE.

Her Heartbreaking Past
Just four years ago, Sidora, 30, had her first child on the way and was happily planning her wedding to record exec Ricky Brascom.

But then everything changed.

“All of a sudden, we went from planning a wedding and him being excited to him being really distant,” Sidora tells PEOPLE of Brascom, who she says had been a churchgoing man who “didn’t drink, didn’t do drugs and didn’t go to clubs” when she first was introduced to him by a Game costar in 2009.

“I wasn’t really interested when we first met, but he was really persistent. And once I got to know him and his background and meet his family, I saw there was something there,” Sidora says of the man who suddenly called off their engagement in 2011.

“I didn’t know what was going on. One day, he just said, ‘I want to be single.’ I was, like, ‘What? We have a child on the way,’ ” says Sidora, who stars alongside Amber Rose and Eva Marcille in the film Sister Code. “How embarrassing. How hurtful. At that moment, I was, like, ‘If you don’t want me, I’m not going to push my way into something with you.’ ”

Sidora moved back to Chicago to be with her parents, but she would return to Los Angeles to visit her OB-GYN.

During one of her final doctor’s visits, Sidora says, Brascom’s mother offered to fly in and attend the appointment with her. The appointment went well, but they received a call after and were told they needed to drive to Brascom’s home.

“When I met him, he was living in an apartment, but now he was in a mansion. I thought, ‘Wow. He’s a new person,’ ” says Sidora. “I thought I was going to get the chance to go off on him, but I didn’t know the magnitude of what was happening.”

Eventually, Sidora came to find out that the man she had been planning on calling her husband was being arrested for – and would eventually be convicted of charges related to – drug trafficking.

“I felt like I had been tricked. I started to question my own judgment. I started asking myself, ‘How did I miss that?’ ” she says.

“I had major trust issues, and I probably sabotaged a lot of potential relationships because of it,” she continues. “But when I delivered [my son Josiah], there was just this overwhelming joy. And if that is what I had to go through to get my son, it was so worth it.”

Finding Love Again
In 2013, Sidora was visiting Los Angeles to promote her performance as Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins in the VH1 original movie CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story when she says she met her “knight in shining armor.”

“[My sister, my son and I] were driving up to our hotel, and our headlights hit this man in a suit, and we said, ‘Who is that?!’ ” Sidora says of the first time she saw business consultant Ralph Pittman.

Sidora says that as her son Josiah, then 2, exited the car, his football went rolling and he chased after it.

“[Ralph] saw all this and said, ‘Let me help this woman. She needs my help.’ He ran and got the football and said, ‘Aw, little man. You got a football? I played football. Let’s play football,’ ” she recalls. “So, I’m was just standing there, and he didn’t even see me.”

But Pittman, 32, did eventually take notice. And after some coercing by her sister, Sidora says, she and Pittman exchanged numbers.

Because of her hectic work schedule, the two did not reconnect until the following March, when Chicago-based Sidora returned to Los Angeles for a shoot. What was supposed to be a meal turned into a 12-hour excursion that left her with the feeling she had met, as she puts it, “the man of my dreams.”

A “Fairy-Tale” Proposal

In June of 2014, just three months after their first date, Pittman woke Sidora up before dawn and took her to the roof of his building, where he had tiki torches, rose petals and champagne waiting: “It looked like we were on a fairy-tale island.”

Pittman then pulled out his iPad and played a clip of Sidora teaching him to dance the Chicago Two-Step on their first date, a recording of Justin Timberlake’s “Not a Bad Thing” – which Sidora considers to be their song – and a video of Pittman asking Josiah if he could “be his daddy.”

“Then she just broke down in tears,” recalls Pittman. “So I pulled out the ring, and I asked, ‘What do you think is in this box?’ And she said through her tears, ‘A pair of earrings?’ I was, like, ‘It’s a little more than earrings.’ ”

Pittman proposed but says Sidora responded, “Not like this. I’m not ready.”

“I had on a headscarf! I had Clearasil dots on my face. I hadn’t brushed my teeth. That was not how I imagined it,” explains Sidora. “But I guess he was letting me know he was taking me as I am.”

A Wedding for Three
Two months after the sunrise proposal, Sidora and Pittman stood on the beach and exchanged vows at sunset.

“We had been planning to do a big wedding, but Ralph’s lease was up and I wanted him to move in,” says Sidora. “We wanted to set a good example for Josiah, so we decided to just do a small wedding on the beach.”

And now, Sidora is not the only one who considers herself married to Pittman.

“Josiah would tell my parents, ‘Mommy and I had a wedding and now Uncle Ralph – which is what he had been calling him – is my daddy. He’s my real daddy,’ ” says Sidora, who adds that Pittman is currently going through the process of adopting her son, now 4.

And Baby Makes Four
Sidora and Pittman had intentions of doing a big destination wedding on their one-year anniversary, but those plans were derailed in January when the couple discovered they were expecting a son together in August – due just two days before their anniversary.

“We are like, ‘The baby better not come on our anniversary or else we are going to be celebrating every anniversary at a Chuck E. Cheese,’ ” jokes Sidora.

Regardless of when the baby comes, the couple says they could not be more excited to welcome a fourth member into their family.

“I’m at the point that I just look at my journey and am so grateful,” adds Sidora. “I wouldn’t change anything from my past because without it I wouldn’t be exactly where I am.”