Tag Archive | babies

Meeting my Niece

I am one of those crazy people who dig road trips, but I was unsure whether I was going to love the one we went on yesterday to see my sister and her new baby. For one, it was a long way to drive (over two hours) for a short time to visit. We planned to stay only an hour or two, so as not to overwhelm Sis with too much company while also trying to adjust to being a new mommy. In addition, my daughter was in some sort of mood yesterday and an extended time in a car with a crabby two-year-old is not exactly a party. And also, most importantly really, I have purposely spent very little time around newborns since my miscarriage last year. I did not know if my heart would fare well in seeing my tiny niece and knowing that, right now, Teddy Graham would be about three months old.

But all in all, it went well. Cupcake wanted little to do with her new cousin and was only worried that the baby might steal her cup of orange juice. She spent most of the time chasing the cat around the house, with my husband following close behind. Poor kitty. Poor Honey. And me? I was okay. My niece is small and beautiful. I held her from the moment I arrived to almost the moment we left. She stared into my eyes, wide awake, for a good while and eventually fell asleep as I rocked her gently. She didn’t say a peep the whole time we were there. And I am ashamed to admit that it wasn’t until the drive home that I even thought about Teddy. I don’t know if this makes me a horrible mom, or if it just means I am finally on my way to some sort of healing.

And one other thing…as I held my niece, I was surprised by how natural it felt. How right. There have been times recently when I have wondered if I would even know how to take care of a newborn again. If I would know what to do, or how to hold one, or rock one, or love one. It seems so long ago that Cupcake was that small. But I was reminded that, somehow, mothering a baby is like riding a bike. You just never forget how to do it.

And I am so glad that, finally, I have something to be confident in.

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I have a niece.

Yesterday, at 38 weeks pregnant, my sister delivered her baby. It’s a girl, though none of us knew that until the birth. She has the same middle name as Cupcake, which makes me grumble a little, but whatever. I waited on pins and needles all day yesterday, and then finally at 8pm, my brother-in-law phoned with the news. And after I said my congratulations and wished them all well, gave them all my love, did and said all the things I was supposed to, I hung up and felt my chest rip open with immense sadness.

It was completely unexpected and I can’t quite explain it. But I think it has something to do with this: my sister wanted a little girl desperately. So much so that she talked of adopting one down the road if she never had the chance to give birth to one. She would watch my daughter longingly and say wistfully, “This is why I want a girl so much.” So I should be happy — thrilled — for her, shouldn’t I? But you know what? In that moment, as I heard the news, I was not. I think a part of me wanted her to have a boy because then, I would still have the one thing that she wanted the most.

My sister’s life is not perfect. I know this. She has struggled with cutting herself, bulimia, depression, anxiety, and was taking meds for all of this until she got pregnant. She and her husband also have an enormous amount of debt (more debt than our house is worth!). But beyond that, I have always coveted what she has. A better house. A Master’s degree. A childhood that is not shadowed by sexual abuse. A father she respects and has a good relationship with. Fertility. It’s not fair that so many things have come so easy for her and, here again, she got exactly what she wanted: a baby girl. It’s just not fair and, instead of being happy for her, I felt sorry for myself.

I know this makes me a horrible sister. I know it puts me in a very ugly light and it feels like a brave thing to do to admit to how I feel. A very big part of wanted to ignore these feelings, or lie about them, but this is the one place I am completely honest, with myself and with everyone else. I am not proud of the way I felt, but I make no excuses for it either. It is what it is. My relationship with Sis is so complicated and I am just beginning to realize all the pain that still lies under the surface and all the muck there is to wade through before I am truly healed.

But please, make no mistake: I will still love this niece of mine. I hold no contempt towards her or her mother. Even today, with a little distance from the news, I am feeling better, happier, more ready to embrace the addition to our very unique family. Next weekend, we will take a road trip to meet the baby. I am excited to do so, but anxious as well. I am not sure what kind of hard feelings holding a newborn will bring up for me. It will, in fact, be my first time holding a baby since my loss and seems like a very big step to take.

My one consolation in all of this is the baby that continues to flourish inside of me. Skittle is the one who is holding me together right now, keeping my heart from being too heavy, allowing me to welcome my niece with joy. I heard the heartbeat with the doppler again today and so I can now face another baby shower this weekend with hope and relief. I am happy to carry this baby for thirty more weeks or so (please please please let it be thirty), but I cannot wait to hold this child in my arms. Hearing my sister’s birth story has only made me more desperate for another of my own. For my own child to enter this world in the same health and great expectation. I want that with every cell in my body. And I know I can do anything, I can get through this pregnancy and a cousin’s shower and holding a newborn that isn’t mine, as long as Skittle is okay.

And right now, s/he is and so I will go on.