When my oldest niece, Faith, was born in 2006, there was nothing but joy. I was present for the labor and delivery, and was enthralled the moment she made her entrance into this world.
Up until that point, loving her was the closest I'd come to knowing how much a mother can love someone they've just met. My only sister's baby girl, related to me by blood.
|Faith, just moments old. Sept. 06
I visited a couple of days a week for those early weeks, giving my sister a much-needed break, just admiring her as she grew. Smothered her with hugs and kisses as much as I could, and just loved her as best as I could.
And then Max was born, and I really did learn what it's like to love as a mother. To love so much it hurts sometimes.
Christmas, 2008, before Max's first birthday, Katie excitedly announced she was pregnant again! Due just weeks before Faith's third birthday, I was happy but also struggled with jealousy. Katie was growing the family she had always wanted, and I was still coming to terms that I'd never get another chance to have a baby.
I'd like to think I kept a strong facade during her second pregnancy, but I'm not entirely sure I did… watching her belly grow, taking photos of her at about 35 weeks, almost 2 months past the furthest I'd gotten. I struggled constantly, but tried not to let it show.
When Katie invited me to be present at the birth again, I was happy. At first. I'd be part of an entourage of doula, photographer, future godmother, Katie and Jason AND medical staff. I could deal, right?
I couldn't have been more wrong. Sitting in that delivery room, just doors down from where I'd been monitored before Max's birth, it took every ounce of my willpower not to run screaming from the room. I found myself crumpled to the floor, concentrating on my breathing, while my second niece, Josie, was born.
Lost in the chaos after her birth, I left without even holding her, saving my tears for the sanctuary of my car in the parking lot. Looking back through my blog archives, I never even shared her birth on here… that's the kind of headspace I was in.
And then Jan. 2, 2011. Our family is celebrating Christmas together, and I give Katie a bottle of wine as a gift. “Oh, great!” she says. “This will come in handy IN SEPTEMBER!” Stunned looks around the room, and she confirms moments later. She's pregnant again, due right around Josie's 2nd birthday in August.
A few weeks later, I sent her an email letting her know where I was emotionally; about the difficulties I'd had being at Josie's birth, and that I needed some time to come to terms with her having another baby. I promised that I'd “come around to happy,” but that in the meantime, I needed space.
I then proceeded to spend the remainder of her pregnancy, about 34 weeks, avoiding her. Avoiding contact as much as I could. Seeing her belly grow, all the talk of baby names and Team Green, I wasn't ready for those conversations. So I stayed away.
And then a phone call.
Katie thought maybe she was in labor, and did I want to be present at the birth? I said yes, and that I'd bring my camera. Because I'd been present at the other two, I didn't want the new baby (called OMeGa in utero) to feel less important if his/hers was the only one I missed. I figured that, worst case, I could hide behind my camera and focus on taking great pictures, instead of paying attention to what was actually happening in front of me.
And you know what? I did it. I was there, I was present in the moment, and I cried. But in a good way.
|Lydia May, born Aug. 25, 2011