My first nephew was born to my best friend and her husband (also DH’s brother, if you’re still following me – it’s all a bit Midsummer Night’s Dream) last Saturday. I have visited the child twice, and on both occasions been catatonic with excitement and trepidation in the preceding hours. The excitement comes from the new beginning the new baby represents, the trepidation comes from simply not knowing what other feelings will be unlocked in me as I gaze down at his angelic little face – jealousy, resentment, anger?

The first visit was to the hospital, some 12 hours after he was born, and it was wildly biased towards the excitement bit of the spectrum. We marvelled at the miracle that brought him to life, at the mere existence of his ten little fingers and ten little toes, at the feeling of our big family expanding. It was an amazing, tear fuelled love-in that I shall remember for the rest of my life.

I was more guarded about the second visit, this time to the house. I literally hid behind a wall of presents – artichokes, olives, salami, bread, cake, oranges, cuddly donkeys – trying to cover up my woeful lack of baby knowledge, trying to cover up any sadness, any jealousy, any unidentified weirdness that might weedle its way out of the woodwork and bop me on the head.

Turns out I needn’t have worried. Caring for a newborn baby looks like a complete and utter nightmare and frankly I’m glad the in-laws are doing it first. Best friend answered door looking shattered, drawn, tired; everything that describes someone who looks like they’ve unexpectedly been dropped on the Moon after a gruelling 12 day journey wearing only the thinnest of Top Shop gladiator sandals. She then spent the next 20 minutes looking obsessively for a piece of paper, like you do when you’re completely overtired i.e. forget what you’re looking for after five minutes and instead wander around trying to work out what’s wrong. There was baby apparatus everywhere; it looked like a dinosaur had banged its fifteen tonne tail down in the middle of a nursery and then turned around a few times. Best friend looked worried, the father looked worried, the Mother-in-Law looked worried, the baby looked worried – I should note at this juncture that the baby was healthy and looked fine – but still, best friend looked worried, father looked worried, baby looked even more worried. Was the baby breathing ok? Did anyone find that bit of paper? Isn’t he better off sleeping in the middle of the cot? The milk hasn’t come through yet, topping up with formula, where’s that bit of paper, get the sheepskin, SOMEONE GET ME THAT DAMN BIT OF PAPER.

You could have cut the atmosphere with the bluntest of blunt knives.

Then, the kicker. When best friend was having a hug with Mother in Law, Brother in Law started to cry (not much, just a few mans tears). He said was worried about my best friend. Now I was worried. In the three years I saw him support my best friend through the blistering grief of losing her sister, not once did he say “I am worried about her.”

This was going to be more difficult than we all thought.

And In that moment I wondered how unhinged I was, spending all this time actually wanting a baby – actually wanting the sleepless nights, the wailing, the puking, the sickness and the crying. Then I remembered what day of my cycle I was on and resolved to put the ovulation kit on the bottom shelf in the bathroom. It would be so much easier to reach it there when I needed it in a few days time.

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