On Being Aunt Branee

May 17th, 2009

It’s been almost four years since we received a phone call that would change our lives. We were right in the middle of monitoring my basal body temperature (BBT) to learn if I was ovulating or not. So our infertility journey had begun, but not quite. One night we received a phone call from Shelton’s younger brother who informed us that he and his wife were expecting. I eeked out a discontent congratulations, tossed the phone to Shelton and collapsed on our bed sobbing. We were older than them! We’d been married longer! We wanted it more! Right? At the time it seemed completely unfair and that we were doomed to have a barren womb and barren second bedroom. Six or seven months after that call, a little guy named Stone was born. My first and still only nephew. And so with that phone call my life was changed.

I often joke that Stone is the love of my life. I like to think that he and I share a special bond, despite the MILLIONS OF MILES AWAY his parents moved (look at ANY map and you’ll clearly see that the East Coast is ONE MILLION MILES from Kansas!). He really is something special. I don’t love him “more” than my nieces, but I do love him differently. Is that being too honest? Although I can’t compare it, I imagine it’s the way you love your first child differently than the rest of your children. He’s my first. He’s the boy who added the prestigious title of “aunt” to the front of my name and coined “Branee.” While we’re not related by blood, he’s proven to me that that’s not necessary. So what if we don’t share a chromosome or two. We’ve made chicken eggs together, and that’s really all that matters.

In just a couple weeks that little boy will turn a mind-blowing three-years-old. It’s unfathomable to me that he’s turning three. What’s even more insane is that in the time it’s taken him to talk, walk, potty train and declare that Lightning McQueen might be the single best cartoon character ever, we’ve added two nieces to our brood. Stone now has a little sister, Tilton, and the other brother-in-law has a daughter, Emilee. I love them all to painful pieces. I can’t get enough of them and if you could pour them in a glass I’d just drink them with a straw.

In about eight weeks, we’re adding a third niece. Only this time, she’s mine. Little Eleanor (or Ellie) is being born to my baby sister in July. There’s a therapy session in and of itself, but I’d be lying if I said I’m not counting the days until she arrives. And it makes me consider that love thing all over again. I mean, before Stone, I didn’t know it was possible to love anyone that much. Obviously, the love I have for Shelton is impossible to explain, but it’s that “different” kind. Will I love Eleanor more or differently because she’s my sister’s? If so, it seems impossible. And to that point, what about my own kids? I already feel that I’m tapped out. I’ve reached the end of the Internet so to speak on love, I found the source stream and I’m all filled up and these babies keep finding ways to take more.

It’s a weird thing watching my sister be pregnant. I’m not nearly as painfully jealous as I expected to be. In a lot of ways I feel numb to it, yet a ridiculous kind of excitement at the same time. I’m a big crier. Always have been. And moments where I would ordinarily cry buckets, I just kind of stand back with a contented smile. I’m seeing my sister differently than I ever have before. She’s growing up (thank God!), she’s not 12 any more (clearly!), and I find myself looking forward to our conversations more than I usually do. There are six years between us, and as kids and even until recently, that six years seemed like decades. We’re as different as night and day, and so I can’t help but to think that the way in which she’ll raise Eleanor will be completely opposite of how I intend to raise my children (for no other reason than to spite me and make my hair curlier than it already is!).

One of these days, I’ll get to make that phone call to Jenna that will change her life, and make her an aunt. Will it be different because she already has a (as in singular Jenna!) child of her own? Possibly. But I will stack my auntieness against any auntie out there and promise you that I think my nieces and nephew are pretty much the raddest kids around!