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When the Village Has a Baby
by Danielle Lafhaj
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January 30, 2019

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13 Minute Read

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When the Village Has a Baby

She and her husband were living the life of the D.I.N.K: Double Income, No Kids. In preparing for motherhood, she realized that it was her village of women whom she truly wanted to honor.  

Danielle Lafhaj (Courtesy of photographer @worldtravelingq)

This past May, after returning to Washington, D.C. from a restorative two weeks traveling throughout Indonesia and Thailand with my husband, I noticed I felt a bit off. At first, I attributed this to jet lag, returning to the hustle and bustle of being a medical consultant, and an inbox of 500+ email messages. However, by the following week, I knew it had to be something else. And eventually, I found myself in Target fronting an endless row of pregnancy tests. An hour later, I found myself staring at a positive result.

Ever wonder why most of the time pregnancy tests come in a packs of two? It must be because of the disbelief one feels when they see that positive sign — confirmation becomes a necessity. The second test did its job — results confirmed, I was, indeed, pregnant.

Enter an onslaught of emotions — disbelief, excitement, trepidation, nervousness, downright fear, and a mourning of the life that my husband and I were currently enjoying —  the life of the “D.I.N.K.”: Double Income, No Kids. 

My husband and I had been married three years, and were financially stable and enjoying our D.C. life to the fullest. Just the night before I found out I was pregnant, I had worked all day and then attended a rosé soirée with my girlfriend only to come home and eat a few crackers and cheese before climbing into bed.  Only a very small percentage of our circle had already taken the road toward parenthood. Was I ready to take care of someone who would be completely dependent on me 24/7?    

My husband and I felt emotionally ready for children, but I couldn’t help thinking how much our life was about to change and, if we were really ready, how much my life would change. As much as my husband would be by my side, any new mother will tell you, in those early days, especially if you are breastfeeding, the baby wants and needs mommy. A majority of what daddy can offer is support.

With all of this on my mind, I waited three days before I told my husband we were pregnant. At first, I told myself I was doing this because I wanted to find a unique and exciting way to tell him, but by day three I realized I was putting off sharing, because, once I did, this would be real, and a new reality would set in. But, by the end of the third day, I knew I couldn’t wait any longer, so I taped the positive pregnancy test to the bathroom mirror and wrote with a dry erase marker “We are going to be parents!” 

The next few weeks were filled with the excitement of sharing the news with family and friends, our first doctor appointment, and pondering first names. Once the initial shock wore off and we started to settle into our new reality, I shifted into planning mode, because if anything can help ease my anxiety, it is a timeline and a task list. I sketched out the next nine months with important dates and deadlines: the car lease was up in November, so by that time we needed to decide on a new baby-friendly vehicle; should we stay in our one-bedroom apartment or break our lease early to secure more space; researching and opening a college fund; and, of course, when should we have our baby shower or “Baby Bash” as we called the co-ed affair. 

Danielle Lafhaj and her village. (Courtesy of photographer @worldtravelingq)

We decided on mid-October for the Baby Bash and once a date was selected three of my closest girlfriends stepped up to handle planning. I was beyond excited to celebrate with everyone, and, when I thought about it, I realized I had not had all of my close girlfriends gathered together in the same place since my wedding, in Manhattan, in 2015. I also had no idea when we would all be together next.

This sent me on a bit of a detour reminiscing about my wedding and looking through the beautiful pictures I had, not only with my husband, but also with my bridal party. While the wedding itself was about the union, vows, and new roles my husband and I were stepping into, it was also about honoring the friends and family who had supported, loved, and nurtured us throughout our relationship and our individual lives.

These individuals had been there throughout the rollercoaster of life; they had supported us when we were flying high, but also picked us up when we hit the bottom. All of them had been there since the beginning of our relationship, offering guidance and a voice of reason as we began dating. In taking part in our journey to marriage, each one of them had played a role in molding us into who we had become, and, because of that, they deserved to stand right next to us at the altar, because while two people were taking vows, we were also uniting our villages.  

This reflection really made me think about this new motherhood role I was about to step into, and, realizing as scary as it was, I was not alone in this, but, in fact, I was supported by such a strong community of women that I couldn’t fail. Of course, I was blessed to have a supportive husband, but there are some things he could not answer. As I further reflected, I realized that for support with certain fears and concerns, I consistently turned to a handful of women.

Danielle Lafhaj and her village. (Courtesy of photographer @worldtravelingq)

Each of these women had played an active role in my life for at least the past decade, if not longer.  They had seen me through some of my most difficult struggles and consistently poured life into me at times when I was too weak to do so myself.

I admired each of them for the strength they have shown in various situations. Some were mothers though a majority were not. But regardless of their own personal understanding of motherhood, I could always call on them, no matter what, and I knew in my heart how invested they were in this new journey we were all about to embark on. 

These thoughts led me to the idea of honoring my village of women.

The decision to marry and to have a child are both life-changing moments that require a tremendous amount of support, and that support is the origin spirit behind bridal showers, baby showers, and “bashes”, as it was with our Baby Bash. Our Baby Bash had become a rather large event with an invite list over 100, and we ended up having over 65 guests in attendance. It was a truly diving co-ed celebration focused on love and life. But, with my new reflection, I knew I wanted to also focus on the love and respect I had for the core group of women in my life. It became important to me to spend some quality time with them, to honor our relationship and the years of support they have bestowed on me.  I realized I wanted a way to show them how significant they were in my life, that we were all in this together, and that yes, I was having a baby, but in a real sense, our village was having a baby.    

I proposed to my planning committee the idea of holding a small gathering the day after the bash with ten of my closest girlfriends. I wanted a way to capture this moment of having my tribe in one location all supporting the upcoming birth of my first child. Since my husband is a professional photographer, I proposed starting our day off with a photo shoot in his studio — think coffee, mimosas, breakfast, and music, while taking pictures with my tribe.

Courtesy of photographer @worldtravelingq
Danielle Lafhaj and her village. (Courtesy of photographer @worldtravelingq)

It was a magical day, captured in the results of the images. The pictures turned out to be more beautiful and powerful than I ever could have imagined. These photos serve as a personal reminder of the strong women I have behind me at all times, cheering for my success and providing a sense of peace when this new journey seems overwhelming.

I believe these women will play prominent roles in the development of my child’s life, and that my child will realize they not only have their mother but eight other women to turn to for support, advice, and guidance as they strive to carve their own path in the world.

These photos serve as a reminder to our child of the support and dedication they have received from these women from the very beginning.  I also hope these photos will serve as a reminder to each of these women of the important role they have played in my life throughout the years, and in how they have shaped the mother I am soon to become.  And perhaps, as one Instagram comment stated, “I have just secured eight babysitters for life!”

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