This time last week, my life changed. I had been waiting for this for months now, but never imagined how I would feel once it arrived. My brother and sister-in-law have been expecting a baby. A baby, who would be a surprise as to whether it was a girl or a boy. The anticipation built over the months, as did the stress of not knowing and not being able to properly prepare for a girl or a boy, but we prepared for a baby none the less.
My entire family is really close. I have a big group of cousins who I grew up very close to. Some I even consider as close as a sibling. Some of those cousins have already begun to have babies; they’ve made me a God-mother and an “aunt”. I say aunt in quotations because although we’re not siblings, their children refer to all of us as aunts an uncles. I feel like I’ve been an “aunt” for years. I’ve been totally in love with their children and consumed with every stage of their little lives. Then I found out my brother would be a dad. I felt the same all along, I figured I’d feel the same once the baby arrived. I actually never even thought about it, until I was hanging out at home, having some wine with a friend I’ve known since I was four and he said something like, “Just wait until you’re an aunt.” I told him I already was. That my cousins kids were my nieces. I felt like I was an aunt, I behaved like an aunt, I did all the “Auntie” type things with them already. He said to me, “It’s not the same. It’s still not your brother or your sisters kid.” I shrugged it off and kept sipping on my wine. In my heart I disagreed with him. I didn’t understand what he was trying to tell me. His sister has a daughter, so I figured his statements must have been coming from how he felt about his niece. I figured he just didn’t know how I felt about my God-daughter and “niece”.
But then the day came. I got a call at around 7:45 a.m. last Tuesday telling us to get ready. THE day was here. In a few hours, I’d be an aunt! I was thrilled, nervous, anxious to know if I was getting a niece or a nephew and filled with love and anticipation. I rushed to get ready, I stopped for breakfast with my parents, after they warned us we’d be there for a few hours. This baby was in no hurry to arrive. I got to the hospital around 11 a.m. or so. I hung out with my brother and sister-in-law and I waited, I joined my parents in the waiting room and we waited; her mother joined us shortly later that afternoon and we waited together; my family started to arrive and we all waited together.A few joined us from afar via FaceTime, technology really did play a big part in this birth. We waited and we waited. We’d check in on the parents-to-be and made ourselves at home in the waiting room. As the night turned into early morning, some family went home to sleep. My parents, her mom and brother, my cousin and I stayed together in anticipation for this little miracle to arrive. Our nerves were a wreck as the dark early morning sky turned into day light. The doctor, the midwife, the nurses, they all knew us by name at this point. Texts from family kept coming in asking for updates. Asking where this baby was. Sending prayers and love.
Finally, after over 28 insane hours of waiting, praying, hoping, and more waiting, around 1:30p.m. the little angel was rolled out to us. We all yelled with happiness, thankful for a healthy baby! We hugged, we cried, we hugged some more. My brother had planned out a game he wanted us all to play, but after over 28 hours of labor, no sleep for those of us waiting and all our nerves in shambles, he couldn’t put us through more. We couldn’t tell what the baby was.” Girl!” “Boy!” “Girl!” “Boy!” we all yelled. He wouldn’t let out a peep. They asked the new grandparents, myself the Auntie and the new uncle to follow them to the nursery. We all waited by the window for the big reveal. The nurse slowly unwrapped the baby, leaving the clear bassinet covered so we couldn’t see. She held up the baby with my brother and showed us all the little naked body, a little naked behind! We all kept yelling, “Girl!” “Boy!” We took our individual sex teams serious. Finally, in a Lion King style, when Muffassa introduces Simba to the kingdom, the baby was turned over and revealed to us! We all cried, jumped, clapped, hugged, screamed! It was a GIRL! The waiting and anticipation was over. My heart filled the minute I locked eyes with this little miracle. Before I even had the sex confirmed. I loved that little bundle, like I didn’t know I could. I stayed by the window watching every single thing that was done to her. I waited for the nurses to give her the first bath, I watched as all the blood work, pricking and monitoring was done. I snapped pictures of every. Single. Moment. I did not move from that window or hospital until that little baby was safe in the room with her Mommy and Daddy. I felt like I needed to protect her. Like I needed to make sure she was ok while Mom and Dad were taking care of room change and things. I felt like I had to step in while they weren’t able to be there. Once she was rolled into their room, clean, safe and bundled up, I kissed her little pink and blue stripped baby hat and went home. After all, I was now over 36 hours with no sleep.
Although I didn’t meet her until an hour after she was born, my life changed at 12:34 p.m. on August 15th when my first official niece was born. We didn’t meet her until an hour later because her mom and dad hogged her all up with love for an hour before sharing the news, and yes we were practically dying for news in that waiting room.
I’ve been lucky enough to be able to see her every day. If only for an hour or two on some days, I’ve had a chance to kiss her and watch her change. I’ve already had the opportunity to hold her little hand while the nurses pricked her for tests, I’ve had the chance to feed her, to rock her to sleep and most importantly to just love her. I never thought I could feel this way about 7 pounds and 7 ounces of a little person, who isn’t mine.
I’ve been thinking about why this feeling is so different. The only thing I can come up with is that she belongs to my brother. Him and I share the same DNA. We share the same blood, we share the same upbringing, values and many of the same thoughts. We both think our parents are crazy at times, yet we both understand the madness. We both have a little bit of each other in each of us. I had never thought about this concept, but I’m thinking that must be it. It makes me think that a little bit of me, of my DNA, is also in this gorgeous little girl somehow. She’s the next closest thing by bloodline that I’ll ever have, after my own kids someday. It’s an incredible and amazing feeling that I can’t really describe or put into words. Though I’ll try. It’s wonderful to know I can be there for her throughout her life. It’s crazy to think that the guy who used to pick on me, break my toys and beat up the wrong boyfriends in high school, is now a father himself. The guy who used to read my diary and tease me for days after my first kiss. The one who used to tell on me when I snuck to talk on the phone later than curfew. The one who shaved my Barbie’s heads and amputated my dolls. The one who made me play endless rounds of kickball in the yard and attempted to teach me to climb trees; the one who I had to get rid of my bunny as a kid for; the one who would hold me in headlocks and wouldn’t let go til I cried or screamed for help. Also, the same one who used to stand up for me when a guy broke my heart. The one who’d pretend he was in a band and sing into the microphone and dance when I made him. The one who’d tell my parents to back off when they’d get upset. The one who understood what it was to lose my grandmother more than anyone else. The one who hugged me and wiped my tears when my grandparents passed. The one who was beside me as we baptized OUR God-daughter. The one who’d watch movies with me and bad TV til the sun came up when we were off on summer vacations. The one who understands what I mean when I say the rocks and the pier. Hopefully one day we can take this gorgeous little girl to the rocks and tell her about all our sunsets fishing as kids and adventures as teenagers there. I’ve come to the conclusion that all of these memories and feelings must be why my feelings for this little girl are so inexplicable.
Now she’ll have this wonderful father, who I saw grow up to be the amazing, responsible, loving, tough guy he has grown to be, as an example, as the person she calls Papi. I know he’ll stand up for her too. He’ll beat up the ones who break her heart; he’ll wipe away her tears; he’ll hug her when she’s hurt; and he’ll know when to back off as a parent. He’ll also play kick-ball with her and Barbie’s too because he’s learned not to shave their heads or amputate the dolls. He’ll stay up all night watching movies with her; he’ll pretend he didn’t see her sneak the cell phone for one more call before bed; he won’t read her diary because he won’t want to know about her first kiss. I’m also sure that if she ever wants him to, he’ll pick up that microphone again, pull out those dance moves and be in his second music band. He’ll teach her all about the pier and the rocks and it’ll become her favorite place in the summer too.
We’ve only had 167 hours together, but already she’s changed my life forever. I have so much to tell her, that I must put it in a letter . . .
Welcome to OUR family, Ally Victoria!