THE PARENTS: Alexia (Lexi) Doumbouya, 37, and Moussa Doumbouya, 45, of Germantown
THE CHILDREN: Camille, 8; Mamady (MJ), born Oct. 18, 2019
THEIR FIRST OFFICIAL DATE: Breakfast at Silvermoon Pizzeria in Abington, a favorite of Moussa and his parents.
Lexi and Moussa believe in those moments when faith and fate join hands. So, looking back, it was really no surprise to learn — on the day Moussa showed up as a business consultant at the health-care company where Lexi worked — that they’d nearly crossed paths several years earlier.
Back then, Moussa had just left a job at an insurance company, and Lexi was hired to take his place. They missed one another by about a month. But she heard colleagues mention his name and talk about his work.
Three years later, in the fall of 2014, when he showed up to advise her new organization and introduced himself, she blurted, “You’re Moussa!”
“He looked at me: Is that a good thing or a bad thing?” Lexi recalls.
Both were in relationships at the time. For Lexi, their connection would be strictly business. But Moussa had other ideas. “When I met her, she was very, very familiar. Almost like meeting a relative. I honestly felt I was going to marry her.”
Connections kept happening: Lexi met Moussa’s mother at church, then ran into her a few months later at a Dollar Store. “I wasn’t even thinking about the possibility of a relationship right at that moment, but subconsciously, our spirits really did kind of connect,” she says.
On Thanksgiving Day 2016, Lexi texted Moussa to ask about his holiday. The text didn’t arrive until 3 a.m., and since he was awake, he texted back: “It was great. How was yours?” She tapped a response; he called, and they had an hour-long, predawn conversation.
Lexi was still wary. A previous marriage had ended in divorce. She was the single parent of a 5-year-old daughter. “I’d kind of lost hope in marriage. I said to Moussa, ‘Dude, I just told you I’m not interested in a relationship.’ He said, ‘You’ll realize what I already know. God told me you were going to be my wife.’ ”
Camille, Lexi’s daughter, was a kind of litmus test: She was a reserved child who withdrew from adults she didn’t trust, but she engaged readily with Moussa. On Valentine’s Day, he invited both Lexi and Camille on a date to TGIFridays. It was after that when the two began calling each other “boyfriend” and “girlfriend.”
There was a surprise birthday trip to Jamaica — Moussa did all the planning and didn’t reveal their destination until a connecting flight in Florida — but that’s not where they became engaged. It happened instead in Pittsburgh, in the rehab facility where Lexi’s mother was recovering from heart surgery.
“I was in my mother’s bed, falling asleep. My mom was in her wheelchair. Moussa gave Camille white gold hoop earrings. Then he turned to me, got down on one knee and proposed.”
That was Easter weekend 2018. They planned to marry in the fall. But all spring and summer, both Lexi’s mother and Moussa’s father were in poor health. The two were constantly shuttling from one parent to the other. On Aug. 1, Lexi’s mother died. Early the following morning, they learned that Moussa’s father, too, had passed away.
“Within 12 hours, we had lost my mom and his dad. After that, we decided that life is just too short. We picked Oct. 20 and got married. We put together a wedding in two months.”
It was a bittersweet day: dreary rain in the morning, followed by a clear autumn sun. Camille, who had just begun calling Moussa “Dad,” was their flower girl; memories of their parents felt palpable and close. “I thought: You never know where life is going to take you,” Lexi recalls.
When they were dating, Moussa had made it clear that he wanted at least one more child. “I was going to be 37 at the end of 2019. I said, ‘If it happens within the year, fine,’ ” Lexi recalls. They were pregnant by February.
She worried about what the next nine months would bring — with Camille, she’d suffered anxiety and depression both during pregnancy and postpartum. This time, despite stress at work, high blood pressure, lingering grief, and the added risk of a “geriatric” pregnancy, the experience was more manageable.
“Moussa was there so I didn’t have to go through that alone,” she says.
He was there, too — along with Lexi’s cousin and aunt — when she was induced at Holy Redeemer Hospital, when she dilated slowly over the course of a few hours, when she labored to push out a 7-pound, 15-ounce baby who was turned sideways.
“I saw his hair and thought: Oh, my God, there’s really a baby coming out,” Moussa recalls. “I remember seeing his little head and little face. It was surreal. The love I had amplified in that moment. I looked at him and I was amazed, but I was more amazed by her.”
Parenthood feels different this time around, Lexi says. Because of her postpartum depression, “There was a disconnect between Camille and I. It was more about keeping her alive. With MJ, I got a chance to look at this person. I could give myself to him a lot better. I was much better, emotionally.”
For Moussa, infancy is a brand-new stage of parenting. “By the time I met Camille, she was walking, talking, laughing, joking.” With the baby, there are only vague clues: “If his ears are this color, what does that mean?” In the corporate world, Moussa has been a planner, a forecaster. But parenthood, he says, is teaching him to anchor in the moment.