I was at work when I got the call from my dad. My stepmom was pregnant! The news was a complete shock to me. At six months pregnant with my first child and after spending the last 30 years as an only child, I was getting a sibling.
My family dynamic has always been unconventional. My parents divorced when I was five. Both of my parents remarried and divorced again. My mom had two children with her second husband, but I had always been the only child and grandchild on my dad’s side of the family. My dad remarried for a third time to a woman who is 27 years his junior and five years younger than me. I wasn’t particularly accepting of their matrimony and wished my new stepmom was older. I never even referred to her as my stepmom; she was always just “my dad’s wife.”
I was used to comments being made about my stepmom’s age. But when the news got out that she was pregnant, the jokes came flooding in. I remember one incident in particular where the joke came from someone I respected, making it particularly hurtful. “Wait, wait — so your sibling is going to be younger than your daughter?” And he exploded into a fit of laughter. I’ve never had much of a poker face, so I just stared at him in disbelief before giving him a forced but obviously miffed smile. It was then I realized I’d have to change my own attitude about the situation if I expected acceptance from others.
The truth was I didn’t know much about my new stepmom. I purposely pushed her away without giving her a chance just because of her age. As I spent more time with her, I realized that we share a lot of the same interests. But what I really noticed was how content she makes my dad. It had been years since I’d seen him genuinely happy, so I am grateful she shows him love and support. And he was over the moon about finally having another child.
I gave birth to my daughter in April which really brought our family together. My dad and stepmom visited almost daily, so I spent a lot of time with her during the last months of her pregnancy. They decided to keep their baby’s gender a surprise, so we were anxious to find out if I would be getting a brother or a sister.
Hurricane Irma hit Jacksonville the week my stepmom was due. My husband was sent out with the Navy for humanitarian relief in the aftermath of the storm, so I packed up my daughter and stayed at my dad and stepmom’s house to ride out the storm. We ended up staying with them for an extended period of time after the storm since our house was without power. Meanwhile, my stepmom was willing herself into labor using every trick in the book. When power was finally restored to our house, I joked that the baby could come out now because we freed up space in their house.
My stepmom went into labor on a Sunday morning in September and was admitted to the hospital. I anxiously stayed by my phone awaiting news of the baby’s arrival. We wagered on the baby’s size and gender; I placed my bets on a boy. Finally, in the wee hours of Monday, I received the text I had been waiting for. She had given birth to a healthy baby girl, a shock to all of us. My little sister (and my daughter’s aunt) was finally here! My stepmom requested that I be the first to meet my sister, so at 1:30 in the morning I woke up my daughter and headed to the hospital. I was honored to be the first to cuddle my little sister and welcome her to the family, a memory I’ll cherish forever.
Adding two babies to our family in the same year has been such a blessing. Twice the love, joy, and baby snuggles! My stepmom and I have continued to bond over the joys and challenges of first-time motherhood. One day when our daughters are old enough to understand, we’ll explain our unique family tree. But for now, we look forward to watching them grow up together and the many years of sharing milestones, new experiences, and hand-me-downs.
About the Author
Erin Wiggle is a Jacksonville native, sailor’s wife, and new mama. She graduated with a Journalism degree from the University of North Florida and worked at her family-owned sporting goods store before becoming a stay-at-home mom. Erin is a taco connoisseur, frugal fashionista, and lover of all things stationery and she’s almost always wearing sunglasses and the color black. When she’s not caring for her daughter, Erin spends her time searching for the best restaurant in town, discovering new places, exploring the outdoors, and writing about her adventures at erinwiggle.com.