If you had told me two years ago that I would love my niece as much as I do, I wouldn’t have believed you. I certainly thought I would love her. I’d cleared her a nice little berth of expectant love, and if you’d every explained to me how much of my soul she would command, I would remind you that A.) I am dead inside and small souled and B.) as the saying goes, you can’t grow an oak tree in a thimble.
And I was hoping she’d be a boy. There I said it. A girl would force me to face my complicated issues around femininity. What if she liked barbies? What if she didn’t like ponies? Could I find her a Amelia Earhart costume that involved a tutu? Was that an insulting question? Would I be the weird aunt if I gave her dino stuff and a sword?
The anticipation built. I lived with my brother and sister in law then, and every day for the last month I came home and said “BABY?” to Bethany, as if she’d casually driven to the hospital, delivered a baby, driven home and forgotten to take it out of her purse, all in the last ten hours. Bethany, swollen with babyhood, never once hit me for doing this. She is a fucking saint.
And then came that weird wild wonderful morning she was born. I got the news that she was on her way while I was sleeping over at my friend Helena’s, and sometime during an ultra rare (in San Diego) summer thunderstorm, we both headed to the same hospital.
I was not in any way prepared for her. I mean, I’m generally unprepared for life. I actually used the word “vagina-mangled” to my sister in law. In my defense I said, “she’s not vagina-mangled at all!” but still. Bethany still talks to me.
I held Kensi and found myself telling her I’d buy her a barbie. And ice cream, and a pony. I had this sudden desperate need for her to like me.
I realized soon after that I loved her, like a cavern had opened up in my chest except that instead of space, there was just a big airy space in my body devoted to buying her fluffy tutus.
So that’s my life now. I become medically unhinged when my sister in law sends me pictures. Sascha says I become a series of guttural noises. I will fight anyone who suggests she’s not the most perfect creature ever spawned.
I mention all this to say, I’m not ready for them to have another one.
But they are.
Going to have another one, that is.
I am wrecked.
And I’d better get ready for my heart to grow 16 more sizes.