For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a wife and a mom. Now, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t going to settle, and I wasn’t going to college to get my MRS degree. I wanted it when it was right and supposed to happen. But I still really wanted it more than anything else in my life.

As I sit here typing this article, nearly 37 weeks pregnant, I can’t help but reflect on my family and how we got to where we are now. Here is our story.

I met my husband almost seven years ago. He was married previously and had, at the time, a 3 ½-year-old son.  (The “half” is very important when you’re three.) The first time I met my now stepson, I was nervous. I really liked my husband, and I knew that if I didn’t get along with Zack, there really wasn’t much hope of a future for us. Well, I must have done something right because when I knocked on the door, an adorable little boy answered, grabbed my hand and said, “Hi Ryann with 2 Ns. Wanna play with my train table?” He then pulled me into the playroom and we started playing with trains. Now, dating a man with a kid certainly had it’s ups and downs, but what I can tell you about both my husband and my stepson is that my love for them continued to grow as we all got to know each other better.

When I got married, I instantly became a mom, a stepmom, but a mom nonetheless. I know I’m not a replacement mom for Zack, and that’s not what I want to be either. He has a mom who loves him deeply, and I’m grateful to her for allowing me to play such an important role in her son’s life – a role that I take very seriously. I treat him as if he were my own child – the good, bad, and ugly that goes along with it! Being a stepmom is challenging. You walk a fine line between mom, friend, disciplinarian, teacher, nurse, etc…basically all of the jobs a mom does, but there’s one big difference – the child calls you by your first name instead of the name “mom.” Navigating the stepmom life takes time, patience, and a lot of biting your tongue, but overall, it’s been a blessing in my life.

My husband and I didn’t want to wait to start trying to have kids once we got married. We both knew we wanted (more) children, and that we wanted Zack to have siblings, so when I found out about my infertility (diagnosed with insipient ovarian failure), naturally we were devastated. Biological children were essentially out of the question. Even with the most intense fertility treatments, my best chances of conceiving a child were less than 10%. Those aren’t good odds for someone who really wanted to be a mom. After much thought, prayer, arguments, discussions, etc. we decided to go the route of adoption. We were fortunate enough to meet our son the day he was born. The minute I looked at his face, I knew he was supposed to be mine. I was so in love with this little human being, this beautiful child who was born to a girl I had met less than a week prior.

When it’s meant to be, it will happen…

Adopting Vincent made me a mom, a true mom. I was able to write “Love, Mommy and Daddy” on Christmas presents instead of writing “Love, Ryann and Daddy.” I just soak up every ounce of this precious child. He is my miracle, my joy, and the love of my life. At 20 months old, he’s a little spitfire, and I can’t imagine my life without him. The cliché “when it’s meant to be, it will happen” is true in the case of Vincent’s adoption. We not only have the most perfect addition to our family, but we also have two amazing friends in Vincent’s birthparents. The relationship with them is almost as special as having Vincent for a son. I truly believe our paths were meant to cross, and we were supposed to find one another.

Well, what do they say – the best way to make God laugh is to tell him your plans? My husband and I talked quite a bit about wanting Vincent to have a sibling closer to his age to grow up with. Vincent and Zack are eight years apart, and while they adore each other, they will always be in very different spaces in their lives. We went back and forth between trying to adopt again, but we never settled on a solution that felt right for our family. When I found out I was pregnant I was shocked. OK, understatement of the year, but I didn’t and couldn’t believe it. How did I get to beat the 1% odd given to me? How did we get to be so lucky? How am I going to manage two kids under two years old? I still don’t know these answers, and I may never know these answers, but what I do know is I am the luckiest woman on the face of the earth.

All I ever wanted was to become a mom, and while my road to becoming one isn’t the traditional path most women take, I wouldn’t change it for anything. I am a step, adoptive, and about to be a biological

mom. and I am so blessed.