you probably were not expecting this so soon but I’m PREGNANT! I know you will make a lovely aunty. I hope your first niece/nephew has your determination, softness and gift-giving skills.
Auntie Terembe. I’d not thought of myself as a mother much, let alone an auntie. But there I was holding a beautiful hand-painted card congratulating me on my new title. I spent weeks after that shuffling across a spectrum of emotions – worry, joy, fear, excitement. I’ve grown up very close to both my sisters, so naturally this was an experience we were going to share together. The 10 months (yes, 10 – not nine), before our baby was born were filled with doctors’ appointments, difficult conversations and name-brainstorming sessions.
Early morning on June 6th, Tebby rushed into my bedroom – her water had broken. She was thrilled, having spent the day before eating dates and other things known to induce labour. We had a calm morning, Tebby even made her own breakfast. About two hours after she was checked into hospital that morning, her contractions intensified and she got into full blown labour. I didn’t expect it to progress so quickly but about 15:34 on the same day, the baby was here. Sage was born. A quick and straightforward delivery. My sister became a mom.
I took a week off work to help my sister with the baby. It was my first time looking after a baby this intimately. I knew what to expect generally for these first few weeks – sleepless nights, issues latching etc. But one evening we were caught unaware. As Tebby and I were sitting in her room, we noticed Sage struggling to breath. Tebby picked her up and noticed her face turn red. We ran to my mom who was in the living room knitting socks for the baby. She saw her and panicked – my heart dropped. I hurriedly called the doctor. She picked up and I explained the situation. She asked if my mom was there; I said yes. She said ‘tell your mum to suck her nose‘. I shouted the instructions to my mom and she put her mouth to the baby’s nose. A few seconds later, the doctor asked,
“Is she pink or blue?”
Sage caught her breath after about 10 seconds. The entire experience must have been about 2 minutes, but it felt too long. Even though Sage was breathing properly at that moment, we rushed to hospital in a panic – Tebby in her bedroom gown, me sans shoes and my mom holding the baby. In retrospect, the incident was benign but it triggered a persistent anxiety in me. I was chronically worried for months after.
My experience as an auntie brought into sharp focus the question of whether or not I want to be a mother. I love kids but that doesn’t necessarily translate into wanting parenthood. I’ve thought critically about it and at this stage of my life, I’m not particularly compelled to have my own children. I’d like to play a supportive role to the children in my life. I want to be an adult they can rely on. Speaking of children, I’ve been doing therapy for about five months now and we’ve recently delved into my childhood. Based on some of my experiences, I’ve learnt that I am a parented child. Research shows that parented children hesitate from responsibility as they grow older. That may explain my resistance to having children. I’m glad therapy has uncovered that for me so that I’m able to heal my inner child and live a full life.
Meanwhile, Tebby is even more of a stellar mom than I imagined. She took on the role like a second skin. Her patience, endless. Her love, boundless. I’m so proud of how she parents with intention and gentleness. It’s a tough, unrelenting but rewarding job.
Sage is now a year and three months. She scurries around, toppling things, putting her fingers in sockets and saying ‘hi‘ to everyone. She’s a social butterfly. Watching her grow is my greatest joy. I’m privileged to support my sister in raising our baby in a loving, gentle environment where her self expression will be welcomed and honoured. I’m so incredibly proud of my sister. Tebby, you are a wonderful mother. And I’m so proud of my niece. Sage, I adore you. You are so delightful and full of life. Please know you can always count on me. By the time you are old enough to read this, I hope I will have demonstrated that sufficiently for you. I can’t wait to see where the journey will take us.