Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I'm an Auntie

We were the first of our friends and relatives to have kids. It was a rough road, as is any road when you are the first to travel it. But we have managed and the family has been ready to have more 'babies' for a long time. My sister-in-law is the next to embark on the journey. And we couldn't be happier.

But her delivery was much different than mine. She is living 3,000 miles away from her friends and family. I have spent the last 9 months conspiring on a way to get to be there for her when her baby is born. After all, she was there when my daughter came into this world. Then when I had the irrational fear that someone would steal her in the middle of the night while I slept she and her husband spent the night in the hospital in hard wooden chairs, someone keeping guard all night long.

I had gone through all the scenarios in my head; perhaps we can take all three kids, maybe just the oldest and I could go, or perhaps just my husband should go. Once I got the scenario figured out money would be another issue. And timing. But my new niece proved herself stubborn (like the rest of the family) and refused to turn around, she was breech. I figure she just really wanted her aunt and uncle to hold her from the very beginning. So with an actual birthdate we could make our trip work.

It was a last minute decision, mostly because my husband had to take time off of work and school. Also because all the child care arrangements had to be made. But we decided it should be a surprise. So we boarded the plane in Burbank at 9 pm on Thursday night, the day before Sabrina's birthday. Three timezones, one taxi, and 9 hours later (or 6 hours, depending on how you count) we were in a big hospital in Manhattan.

After some problems with security we were able to surprise the mother-to-be. It was fantastic. We grabbed a few zzzzz's in the lobby while she had her baby. It was just enough to keep us going for the rest of the day. And William was a doll on the flight and then again in the lobby. He really made the trip easy.

I thought I was prepared to see my niece for the first time. After all, we have lots of friends with babies now. Most of them I have met within the first week of life, some I have even visited in the hospital. And I have been through 4 deliveries of my own. But this was different. I felt such love for this little girl. I don't even know her, but looking at her I could see years of growing up; playing dress up, riding a bike, prom, and graduation.

But what really surprised me was the incredible bond I felt instantly with my sister-in-law. We have always been close, we stood up for one another's weddings, she is the Godmother to our children, we have shared a bathroom and in a bed in a pinch. Butthe last few years the miles between us have made it difficult to keep our relationship strong. We have both been busy and the mundane activities of life have kept us from picking up the phone or sending emails.

But as she looked at her daughter with the same adoration I have for my children I knew that once again we were sisters. Sisters in motherhood. We share the same fears, hopes and aspirations. When our babies cry the same thought jumps to mind. When the pediatrician looks at our children we hold our breath waiting for the same conclusion to be spoken, "your child is fine". I find myself obsessed with how much my children eat, when they eat, and how often they soil a diaper. She, too, was keeping track of all these things. Even looking with worry when the baby was too quiet.

I know other mothers do these things, but watching her do them . . . it reminded me of the truest love of all, motherhood.

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