I am about to become a great-aunt (or at least a pretty good aunt.) My niece in New York is expecting. I’m very close to her, and I admit, I absolutely cannot wait to hold that baby.
For the past eight months, there’s been nausea, heartburn, cravings, mood swings, and most recently, the obsession to clean house. My niece hasn’t felt too great, either.
It’s been a very long time since I’ve been pregnant, but like riding a bicycle, it all comes back: the realization of how change is the only constant, the need for loose clothing to hide bulges, and wondering if there’s enough air in the tires for the ride.
There’s the weird pregnancy amnesia –strikingly similar to menopausal amnesia. Oh, and BTW, God, thanks so much for those hormone fluctuations and the gas. Nice touch.
As my niece gets closer to her due date, I become a little more obsessed with getting ready to insert oneself into the No. 1 spot of Favorite Whatever. My plan is two-fold – learning and shopping.
I begin my part of the learning process by watching exactly two-and-a-half episodes (please don’t judge, but honest, I can’t tear myself away from the weirdness) of a reality show on Freak TV about Jill and Jessa and approximately 48 other young women who all look identical, who are all within three weeks or three minutes of their due dates, whose names all begin with “J,” and are somehow part of the Duggars. In these charming vignettes, the women shed tears every 10 seconds and alternately smile and speak to large audiences because apparently now they are celebrities. There are a lot of close-ups of male and female adolescent complexions. (Not that I’m trying to be picky, but, um, it’s HDTV, you know? Pan out a little, people.)
We are introduced to Sierra, who is also rather great with child, and referred to as the “ultimate party girl,” which might or might not explain the pregnancy. I don’t even want to consider the auditions for this show, but moving along, Sierra is planning a baby shower for one of the expectant Duggar-esque moms, complete with food, games, and moments of tear-filled, close-up drama, an intimate event for 160 people in the settlement. I mean, family.
“We always just crank it out really fast,” says one of the young women. Perhaps she was referring to the food.
Sierra goes on to explain a baby shower game: six fathers-to-be shop for and prepare homemade baby food. Tabasco sauce, ground pepperoni, cigars or something. I can feel my blood pressure rising and that is not good for the baby. I mean, my niece’s baby. I go into the kitchen to scrounge up some nachos to calm myself.
The next day I go to Macy’s for baby shopping therapy. I’m stuck in a long line. The man up front is returning something, with no receipt. I’ve been in his shoes. And they were way, way too large for me. The newbie cashier sends for a supervisor.
Since now we are all in a holding pattern, I ask the idle cashier about coupons. There are loud, irritated sighs behind me. Hey, it’s not my fault we’re getting nowhere. My mind floats to daydreams about soon cuddling a newborn.
The line lengthens, and there is a building sense of chaos, partly due to a Good Samaritan who suddenly races to the head of the line to report a parking lot incident. Jeez. Some people.
In my peripheral vision, I feel one of the women watching me pretty intensely, with a hard, cold stare. I turn to confront her and realize I’m about to get snarky with a mannequin. Oh, boy.
Getting ready for this long-awaited baby is taking on a life of its own. I’m pretty sure that the symptoms will calm down – for both me and my niece. But for now, I wait.
I wait in line at Macy’s, and I wait patiently for the coming of this child, recalling the amazing, special moments of being a new mom years ago. I wait, knowing there will be a lot of excitement when my niece goes into labor. Afterward, the hospital room will be full of visitors, many with well-intentioned advice. There won’t be 160 Duggars, but our family does take up a lot of theatrical and emotional space. I’ll get to New York and try to keep my old-lady advice to myself.
And when faced with a big crowd between me and that long-awaited infant? I’ll take a deep breath of love, and do what worked so well for me back in the day. I’ll muster up all the kindness and energy I have.