On December 20th at 8:34am, I became an aunt to sweet baby Zoey Kate. I’ve been “Aunt Elana” for a while to children of friends and cousins, but this time it’s official. She’s my niece!
Zoey took her time coming into the world. A whole 9 days later than expected, when we got the news that she was on her way, we all packed up an overnight bag, got in our cars and drove to be nearby (okay, my mom might have been packed long before Tamara was actually in labour). The “unit” was together and at the ready to welcome our newest member.
We camped out at their house which, luckily, is right across the street from the hospital. And we whispered and giggled and waited for updates from the daddy-to-be. I’m not sure anyone got more than a couple of hours of sleep all night because even when we weren’t getting updates, we were waking up hoping we didn’t miss anything and checking our phones, or interpreting and analyzing the last update we had received, or wondering what was happening and how our Tamara was doing.
In the early hours of the morning, after a whole night of anticipation, we stopped getting updates. And we knew this meant that either they were hard at work in the final stages, or heaven forbid something had gone wrong. With a flood of relief and a rush of excitement, that final message came through and off we went to the hospital (I may or may not have run all the way from the car and told the receptionist that “we just had a baby!”).
We didn’t know anything about this little bundle of joy, other than she made her mama pretty sick, liked to punch and kick, and got the hiccups. Some of us (myself included) had started calling baby “he” because we were so sure it was a boy. Tamara’s husband Will came to escort us into the room, and there she was, our perfect baby girl, in the arms of my sister, her mama. It was quite a sight to take in… and quite a surprise. I love that in her first moments on this earth, she has already tricked us and kept us waiting. That beautiful, unpredictable, sneaky girl…
You know how often when someone becomes a new mom, they change instantly? I’ve seen it so many times. There’s a change when they become pregnant and are carrying precious life inside of them, but there’s a different, more significant change that happens instantly, like flipping a switch, when their baby is in their arms. A sparkle in their eye. A maternal, unconditional love. And instantly, everything has changed…
When Tamara was in labour, I kept thinking “I wonder what she’ll be like…” I pictured it, and I tried to imagine how she’d be changed when we would see her. I think I was bracing myself for not recognizing the person I’ve known the best for my whole life. But when we walked in and saw Tamara: Zoey’s mama, she was still Tamara: our sister and Tamara: my parents’ daughter. Her whole world had changed and she hadn’t changed one bit.
For those who know her, when you think about it, this is Tamara. It makes perfect sense. This is her in her element. She hasn’t changed because she’s always been caring, maternal and full of unconditional love. She’s always naturally assumed the role of soother, comforter, and caregiver. We always joke about the “cape of responsibility” that she has always worn, but it’s because of all that practice caring for and taking care of everyone else that she’s already such a natural mother.
And I think I’ll be a great aunt. I can’t wait to snuggle her again. I can’t wait to babysit. I can’t wait to feed her and dress her and tuck her in bed. I can’t wait to sing songs and play games and go swimming. I can’t wait to take her for manicures and go shopping. Okay woah…I can wait for all those things. I can wait because time is already flying and I want to savour every second I get with her. But I look forward to all those things.
I’m so proud of her. In just one day, she figured out how to breathe. She learned how to swallow, and eat. She found her voice. She figured out how to pee, fart, and poo. She figured out how to regularly sneak her hands out of her baby burritos. She stole the hearts of at least 10 people. And she has worn at least 5 different hats. What did you do today?
In conclusion, I am smitten. There is nothing I would rather be doing than snuggling with her right now. But after several visits to the hospital and lots of cuddles, now her family is home and they need time to get to know each other. Zoey needs to get to know her mama and daddy, and she needs to help them figure her out too. Until next time, I’ll just have to settle for memories of her perfect little ears and her tiny little fingernails, photos of our time together, and look forward to the next update, and the next visit.