RAEWYN Billings had to pinch herself on Sunday to make sure her motherhood journey was real.
The Ashtonfield woman celebrated her second Mother's Day after welcoming baby Lilly on May 7, 2018.
It was not an easy road to become a parent. At age 19 she was diagnosed with endometriosis, but was hopeful she would still be able to conceive when the time was right. "I always though I would be a mum," she said. "I knew it would be a challenge but it definitely was not as easy as I thought."
After building an impressive career in science, moving to Canada for four years to continue her study in the field of genetics and eventually returning to the Hunter, she found herself having to undergo yet another surgery for endometriosis. It was after this stay in hospital that her specialist said those words - "it is now or never".
"I thought by 25 I would find Mr Right, we would get married and have kids," she laughed. "It was so unrealistic."
With the support of friends and family Ms Billings decided IVF was going to be the pathway to fulfill her longing to have a child.
It took three long gruelling attempts, but the week before her 40th birthday she got the good news. "It was amazing," she said. "I still pinch myself that she is actually real."
Lilly's birth was bittersweet however, because as she arrived, Ms Billings father was admitted to hospital after an earlier terminal illness diagnosis. He spent four precious months with his new granddaughter before he lost his battle with the illness.
"I don't know how we could have got through it without Lilly," she said. "She brought so much to our family. I can't imagine life without her."
This year Mother's Day marked a whole year of Ms Billings new life in her family of two and give her a chance to appreciate her own mum. "If I am even a small pinch of what my mum is, then Lilly is going to be a very special girl."