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Monday, January 25, 2010

Leila Alaina Babula-Shanley

The other day I was in a carpool line picking up Dan's nephew, Kyle. As I waited I had no choice but to eavesdrop on a conversation had by two of the moms about a women they knew who was recently divorced and about to embark on a new life co-parenting her son with her ex-husband and a step-mom. I had to bite my tongue, hard, as I listened to her trash her "friend's" decisions about letting her child spend time with her new step-mom.

When I was 21 years old I got pregnant. I didn't find out I was pregnant until I was almost four months along. Luckily I took care of myself without the knowledge I was having a baby. I found out one day at a doctor's appointment. The emotions were very mixed. I was so very excited I was going to be a mom in a few short months but I was also very nervous. I had a lot to do; I had to find a place of our own and begin to start our life together. Alone. Just the two of us.

The baby's Daddy and I were never an item- if you will. He didn't know. He had by this point found a lady he really liked and they were on the road to beginning their own future.

Meanwhile, I was working very hard to make sure my child had everything it would ever need. I saved up every penny I earned at work. I was lucky, I had a great job that paid more than enough to support my single lady lifestyle. But was it enough to support the new lifestyle I had set out to achieve for myself and my baby? Time went by and I was beginning to bump in the belly region. It was time to break the news to loved ones and friends. Was it realistic to think that my partner in this particular crime would never have to know? Perhaps if I changed my name and picked up and moved my life. But in this case, that was a big NO.

Why was I so worried? My family took it okay, they weren't mad or upset, but just as I was, they were weary. How was I going to pull it off? More importantly, why did I not want my baby's father to know of his or her existence?

I didn't know the response I would get. He was in a relationship and I didn't want to come in between that with my news. I didn't so much care about me, but I was concerned that no matter how much I already loved my baby that her father may not want to be a father. I didn't mind being denied, but I didn't want my baby to be denied. It didn't deserve that. So I waited.

I was avid about keeping my body in shape during my pregnancy. I knew what a cupcake did to my thighs, I could only imagine what a BABY would do. So for weeks I worked and ran to the gym to workout. Then I met him.

I looked forward to going to the gym everyday because that's where I would see him. He was perfect. I felt like for 90 minutes each day I didn't have to worry about what was going on in my life. It was perfect. Working out left me feeling great and my little conversations with Dan were just what I needed. The best part? I wasn't hiding ANYTHING. He knew what was going on in my life just from little snippets of conversations we shared for just a few minutes everyday. He knew I was pregnant, he knew I was planning on making a life for myself and my child all by myself. My bump was becoming more distinguished and the time to tell the father was looming. I needed a male perspective. He was there for me. He talked me through the whole conversation. He even rehearsed best and worst case scenarios with me. I couldn't believe it, but I had a HUGE crush on him. It was so inappropriate given the circumstances but, it was there none the less.

Not long after that I broke the news to the father. "Whats next?" he asked me. Half excited, half terrified. "You are more than welcome to come with me to find out the sex of the baby," I told him. I could not have asked for a better father for my baby. Even though we were not together, nor did we love each other, but when I told him that he was about to be a father a smirk came over his face. Then when I mentioned that we could work it out so he never had to lift a finger and I would be more than willing to raise the baby alone and not disrupt his life as he knew it, the smirk disappeared and he gave me a look like I was nuts. "No," he said "we'll work together." We planned and talked and planned some more.

Dan was still in my life but a little more so than before. He took me out to dinner every once in awhile, or came with me to register for baby gifts. He acknowledged that I was pregnant and was so supportive. He was becoming my best friend.

When Jake and I went to find out the sex of our baby Jake came in the examination room with me. He sat next to me and held my hand. We heard the heartbeat together. And then the doctor said it. "Congratulations, it's a girl." I cried and he cried. We cried together. It was our first moment together as parents. I knew at that second he was going to be just as great a parent as I planned on being. If our baby was as important to him as she was to me, everything else would somehow work itself out.

That night we celebrated. He brought Libby, who was so supportive and seemed to be just as excited as we were. We had a very long heart to heart and gained mutual respect for one another. I brought Dan. Dan and Jake and Libby and myself all grew to be great friends in the coming months. Soon moving day came. I was extremely pregnant which worked in my favor because I didn't have to lift a finger. I just did what I do best and bossed Jake and Dan around as they moved my furniture and new baby belongings into a two bedroom condo, one room for myself and one room for baby. Jake moved several floors under us, but in the same building. Libby moved in with him.

A month later I went into labor. My family was there, and some even flew in for the birth of my daughter. Jake's family was there too. So was Libby. And Dan.

I was so overwhelmed at how many people already loved my daughter. How could this be possible? A little girl who hadn't even taken her first breath or opened her eyes had more people awaiting her arrival than I had at my Sweet Sixteen or at my graduation.

My sister and Jake were in the room with me when she was born. I couldn't believe and didn't even know how much I could love one person. I loved her a million times over than I even loved myself. She was the single most important thing in my life. From now on everything I did was either for her or because of her. Her daddy felt the same way. We named her Leila Alaina Shanley-Babula. With a name bigger than she was a little piece each of the mommy and daddy that already loved her so much.

Leila technically lived with me but had many many visits throughout the day from Daddy and Libby. Sometimes one, sometimes both. Sometimes they took her home for a few hours while I did laundry or worked from home. Dan came over once a week with dinner. Soon once a week turned into twice, and then some. Leila and Dan had a very special bond. He loved her so much. He loved her [almost] as much as her mommy did. Dan's and my relationship went from strangers, to acquaintances, to friends, to respect, to love.

When Leila was 9 months old Dan moved in with us. He took care of her like she was his own. So did Libby. People sometimes asked me about our situation and asked how I felt that I was not the only mother like figure in my daughter's life. I told whoever asked plain and simple. My daughter has four parents who all lover her equally. Was I ever jealous of the relationship she had with Libby? No. Was Jake ever jealous of the bond Leila and Dan shared? No.

The way we all saw it was that Leila had more than most children had. We might not always be able to buy her exactly what she wants but there will never be a limited supply of love. She has two sets of everything. I know that its not in a child's best interest to have parents that are not together, but what's the rule if she does times two?

Leila, Dan and I still live in our wonderful condo, along with Noelle, Harlow and Lexi dogs. Jake and Libby still live just floors below us. When Leila was a baby she left all the time but always had to come back to me. She was new and physically needed her mother. I needed to know she was sleeping within arms reach of me whenever I would wake up in the middle of the night and wanted to kiss her little forehead and whisper in her ear how much Mommy loves her.

Leila is spending her very first night with her daddy and her Libby tonight. Even though she is not only a phone call away or a twelve second elevator ride away I miss her. My heart hurts when she is not here. This is the first bump I have had in my little motherhood road. Yes, it sucks my little girl is growing up and becoming just about as independent as a three year old can be, but I am blessed that this is the first and worst bump we have hit I consider myself very very lucky.

I am so thankful for my daughter and everyone that loves her and cares for her just as they do. She's a little bit of all of us. She's grown up with what naturally I believe to be the four people with the best personalities. She looks like a mix of her mother and father. She has our light eyes and dark hair. She has my freckles. She's even picking up a little bit of her mother's leprechaun accent, as it is so kindly called around these parts. Already Leila has a heart of gold just like her father. I couldn't ask for more. I am truly blessed.

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