Mila’s first birthday is coming up in a couple days. When I think about just how badly I wanted this life and how long it took me to get it, I tend to get a bit mushy sentimental so bare with me.
There was a time when our family was just us two; myself and Lucy. I’d divorced her biological father when she was just 6 months old . I did my best to embrace my role as a strong single parent. But I have vivid memories of laying in bed with her on a mattress on the floor of our studio apartment dreaming of the family I have now. I watched her sleep, her super chubby cheeks smashed on my forearm, and I would think ‘this amazing little girl deserved so much more than just me.’
Falling in love with the heavily tattooed guy I met at the bar he was working at certainly didn’t seem like the most responsible choice for a single mom. I tried dating single dads like everyone advised me to. But it was my best friend Justin who made me laugh all the time. My mom said she always knew when it was Justin I was talking to because I’d have a huge smile on my face. He is so witty and thoughtful and kind that I knew pretty early on I would never be letting him go.
I’d be lying if I said the transition from dating to “hey wanna meet my child?” was an easy one. In between all the trips to the park and family movie nights were some mixed emotions. I imagine that it was hard for both of them to learn to divide the attention they were used to receiving from me. To this day, I still sometimes get frustrated and tell Lucy and Justin I cant possibly listen to both of them at the same time. But then I’d find them both passed out on the couch together after watching cartoons. Or I’d come home to them playing Candy Land. I got to watch their relationship grow and see them build their own bond.
It took us about a year before our family felt real. Like I could stop explaining our life story anytime someone at the park asked me if she looks more like her father. Or if someone questioned why our last names weren’t the same. I was finally confident to just give a quick simple response. And it was right around that time we decided we were ready to grow our family.
By the time we started trying for Mila, I was so ready to have a newborn in my arms again. I was ready for the baby bump and the late night nursing sessions. All of it. When the first and second pregnancy tests came back negative I didn’t think anything of it. I just adjusted in my mind when the baby’s due date would be. I’d think “well if I get pregnant next month we’d have a May baby. That could be fun!” Suddenly imagining a May birth turned to a summer baby. Then a Fall baby. Then I realized I was fast approaching 12 months of trying with no bump to show for it. 12 months is like some imaginary deadline. Every book out there says if after 12 months you still aren’t pregnant, talk to your doctor. Each negative pregnancy test felt like a slap in the face. And every time a friend announced their pregnancy it felt like a punch in the stomach. I wanted to be happy for them but it was only a reminder of what I didn’t have. We kept trying for 4 more teary months before throwing in the towel and accepting that I might not get the family I’d hoped for. But that the family I had was enough and that I was already so blessed. Of course, the month after giving up I got pregnant. Isn’t that always how it goes?
Bringing Mila into our family was such a surprisingly smooth transition. Not to say there weren’t “you don’t love me anymore, you only love the new baby” moments. But they were few and far between. The past year has only made us all closer. We all genuinely enjoy each others company over all others. Justin and I put on records and watch the girls dance in the living room for hours. We used to lay a blanket on the ground for Mila and the rest of us would lay on our bellies around the blanket to see if she’d roll over or if we could get a coo out of her. When she took her first steps we were all there for it and Lucy cheered the loudest.
Sure the four of us might have 3 different last names. There are 6 grandparents. Your family might have 2 dads and 1 daughter. Or 1 mom and 3 sons. Another family might be a mom and a dad and 12 kids. And some might only include children of the furry variety (meaning pets). I’ve learned that just because we aren’t what I most often saw portrayed on TV or in movies doesn’t make us any less of a family. We didn’t follow the song about how first comes love then comes marriage then comes baby in the baby carriage. But it doesn’t mean I need to explain or make excuses for who we are. We laugh often and love unconditionally. We are a family in all the ways that matter.
This post is a part of the Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries Thank you so much to Ashley for taking these photos of my famly You can see more of her beautiful photography on her site Ashley Vos Photography.