“My life-changing journey started in February of 2014 when I met the person who would forever alter my world. I was a freshman and he was a senior. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was talking to the man who would one day be the father of my child and the love of my life. I’m not going to lie and say everything went perfectly, because it surely did not. Mark went off to college in 2015 and we talked here and there. My heart was always with him and anyone who knew me knew I felt that way.
Mark and I dated on and off for years before we fell pregnant with our daughter. I was always sure no matter what trials and tribulations we faced, it would always be us in the end. I would tell my Mom that he was my ‘person’ and she seemed skeptical. I was 18 when I took the pregnancy test that would change everything on a day I remember so vividly. We actually had broken off communication a week or two before this life changing event. Like I said, our ‘us’ was a bit of a roller coaster.
I woke up nauseous and got sick. I had a feeling that something big was going on. I had one pregnancy test in my drawer and decided to bite the bullet and take it. It was a digital test which simply read pregnant or not pregnant after use. I remember watching the test load and I could not take my eyes off of it for even one second. After about 3 minutes the words appeared… ‘pregnant.’ My heart stopped and I was filled with fear and emotion.
I lived with my Mom and she and I have always been extremely close. I brought the test down to her in the kitchen and showed her. I remember her saying, ‘I knew it. I just knew it!’ She was not upset with me and told me she wanted me to keep the baby, would support whatever decision I made, and made the point to immediately say I needed to talk to Mark. I think I was in shock, scared, and unsure of what was to come.
I stepped outside to call Mark while he was at work. Keep in mind, we were no longer in contact, so this call was a surprise for him. I remember him telling me that when he saw my name pop up on his phone he just had a feeling I was going to tell him I was pregnant. I got straight to the point and I told him what had just happened. He asked me to come to his house when he got home from work to discuss everything. Mark had just bought a house about ten minutes from town a few weeks prior and was planning to have a few guys living with him to cover the expenses. My mind was racing. What were we going to do? How could we possibly have this baby when we just decided to no longer speak a couple of weeks prior? This is really not the plan either of us had at all!
The rest of the day felt like a lifetime and I couldn’t wait to talk with him and hear his thoughts. It was finally time for us to meet again and I got in my car and made the 10 minute drive, which felt like an eternity. I just wanted to get to him and hug him. I was carrying his child. I arrived at his house and pulled in for the first time. Just pulling into the driveway, I felt this overwhelming feeling of being home. I walked around back as he was working on getting his pool up and running. It was August 27th, 2018. I put my feet in the pool and for a few minutes we talked as if nothing had happened and everything was normal.
We decided to go inside and sit on the couch to talk about what we were going to do next. The biggest decision we would ever make was on the table for discussion. We weighed all of our options. Mark was raised very involved in church and as a man of God. Both of us felt that terminating the pregnancy didn’t seem to be something we could possibly go through with. Still, we couldn’t come up with a concrete plan on what we were going to do. We decided we would take a few days to process this huge development in our young lives.
He invited me to stay, so I sat on his couch and began watching TV in an attempt to feel some sense of normalcy. I was already feeling symptoms of fatigue from the pregnancy and fell asleep quickly on the couch. I remember him picking me up and bringing me to the bedroom to rest. He tucked me in and we held each other close. It was heartwarming, peaceful, and it felt right. We took the next several days to think about everything and come up with our plan. Every night since the positive test I spent at his house. It all just felt so right, like I was where I was supposed to be and with the person I was meant to be with.
On September 1st, we decided we were definitely going to keep the baby and be together. He asked me to move in and I began moving all of my belongings from my mother’s house to his. The house became ours. It became the home we would raise our child in as a family. My heart was so full. Though the next few months weren’t easy by any means.
There was a lot of mistrust and fear of being left alone, considering our past. Mark worked all week in Connecticut so I would spend Monday through Friday alone with my thoughts and worries. Eventually, we both decided his current job situation was no longer working out and would not be a healthy situation for our relationship or our family. Mark took a week to find a new job with a different company where he could be home every night. This was a wonderful change for our relationship and proved his dedication to our relationship and unborn child.
On October 20th, 2018, we went in for an early gender ultrasound, I was around 13 weeks at the time. We quickly threw together a last-minute gender reveal at our house that day. It was a very special and intimate day with some family and friends. We did a baseball gender reveal where I threw the ball and Mark hit the ball with a bat revealing either pink or blue. I remember being so worried that I would throw the ball wrong and ruin the whole reveal. This was a big moment in our pregnancy… finally learning the gender of the baby we created together.
It was a GIRL! I was so thrilled and so surprised as Mark’s family is mainly boys, and he had me convinced this one would be, too.
There was one thing missing from the gender reveal that I regret to this day. My father. I was too scared to tell him about my pregnancy so I kept it from him until the day after we found out our baby’s gender. We worked together Monday through Friday so you can imagine it was a very hard secret to keep and there were many moments I just wanted to throw away all of my fears and tell him the news. The day after, I sent him a text with a picture of us holding up the girl signs we bought at the ultrasound office and a brief message saying, ‘Mark and I are pregnant, and we just found out we are having a baby girl in April.’ I still feel horrible for not mustering up the courage to tell him in person or even just give him a call. He wasn’t angry, but more worried about me.
We were blessed to have people in our lives that supported us on this journey and grew very excited for the arrival of our daughter. It was April 19th when I woke up with some leaking that I ignored. I chalked it up to the fact that women’s bodies change so much and do some wild things when pregnant. I put on a panty liner and went out for a day of shopping with my mother. It wasn’t until later in the afternoon, in an antique shop in Lambertville, that I noticed the leaking had gone through my pants and it was NOT normal. My mom and I called Labor and Delivery and they requested I come in immediately to get checked.
Luckily, our house was on the way so we stopped to grab my packed hospital bags, called Mark to meet us, and headed to the hospital. My heart was pounding and I grew very nervous of what was to come. Is this really it? Am I really going to have my baby in my arms soon? I was 38 weeks and 5 days pregnant.
We arrived at the hospital and I remember the fear growing in me as we got closer to the hospital and eventually into a triage room where they swabbed the fluid to determine if it was really my amniotic fluid. I kept telling myself, this can’t actually be real. It was my amniotic fluid which meant all of those months of growing and carrying my child in my womb lead to this moment. It was baby time!
I labored naturally for several hours before deciding to have the epidural to conserve my energy for when it came time to push. My labor experience was lovely and comfortable. I grew less worried and more excited to meet our beautiful daughter. It was 11 a.m. when I was dilated to 10 cm and pushing time was here! I pushed for 1 hour and 40 minutes which honestly felt like 15 minutes to me. We had Dierks Bentley’s The Mountain album on repeat. It was beautiful and those songs still take me back to that life changing day. The song that stands out to me the most was the song The Mountain, ‘It was only a mountain.’ I was going to get through this and in the end my baby would be here. The other mini love of my life.
At 12:47 p.m. my beautiful Layla Kay was born. She rocked our world. Mark and my beautiful mother were there with me to welcome our beautiful girl into this world. The experience was something I remember so vividly and it’s one I will never forget. I would do it a million times over. I held Layla for about an hour before we moved from labor and delivery to the postnatal ward. We spent 2 nights there learning the basics of how to care for our beautiful new life, little Miss Layla. She didn’t leave my side the whole time we were there which is something I was very thankful for.
After 3 days in the hospital, we brought our baby to her new home for the first time. Thankfully, my mom had spent the last day we were in the hospital preparing the house for us and cleaning everything. Mothers are amazing and they never stop caring for their babies. I learned a lot about being a mom from my own mother and continue to learn more everyday.
We’ve had our rough days and our amazing days just as every new parent does. The first two weeks were the hardest with learning how to breastfeed and also going through some major hormonal changes that I wasn’t prepared for. There were moments when I felt sad and in a state of shock with my new life. The mom guilt had already set in. How could I possibly feel sad with this beautiful angel in front of me? This is something I always share with new mothers because I felt so alone with the way I was feeling. It is normal to feel sad sometimes and to mourn the life you once had. My life now is one I would only dream of having years ago. If someone showed me, 4 years ago, a short clip of what my life would look like today, I wouldn’t believe I could possibly be so blessed.
I am now a stay at home mom and I am able to raise my daughter the way we see fit. I document our best moments and our not so great moments for my daughter to watch back when she is old enough to understand and wonder what her babyhood looked like. I have a beautiful family who I would do anything for. In my heart, this is what life is all about.
I’ve had my struggles with being a new mom and handling Layla’s different health issues and developmental delays. When Layla was 8 months old, we had her fitted for a helmet for Plagiocephaly which is flatness of the back of the head. This was something I struggled with and I feel most parents who go through this struggle much more than the baby actually does. With the Plagiocephaly she was also diagnosed with Torticollis, which is stiffness of the neck and Strabismus (a lazy eye). On top of these 3 issues, she was having some developmental delays which left me feeling overwhelmed and like I was doing something wrong. We attended Physical Therapy two times a week for many months.
Now, Layla is 14 months old and beautiful and smarter than I could imagine. The Plagiocephaly and Torticollis are resolved with the treatments. We are still addressing the lazy eye with eye drops. She now does telehealth Early Intervention appointments for her development every month because she has improved so much! I couldn’t be prouder of Layla, Mark, and myself for making it through the tough times but coming out stronger than ever.
In the end, I believe everything happens for a reason. Everything fell into place with Mark having just bought what is now our family home, and soon after, the news of our pregnancy. We are blessed beyond measure and cannot imagine life without our Layla girl. Surely there is so much more to come that I cannot even possibly imagine. I’m ready to keep riding and hold on tight.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Helena Havens of Lambertville, NJ. You can follow her journey on Instagram and Youtube. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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