When my husband and I decided it was time to take the plunge into parenthood, we were focused solely on the excitement of our future offspring. How thrilling to have this adorable, miniature version of ourselves to nurture, love, and care for!
We forgot to realize that, in having a baby, we were also having someone else’s grandchild, cousin, or niece. We were adding to what was already a large group on both sides of our family.
This realization came when we shared the happy news at the 3-month mark in our pregnancy. Suddenly everyone had an opinion, prediction, or piece of advice to share with me and my changing body. Some family members dubbed the newest member “the caboose,” which I wasn’t a fan of. Others shared horror stories of how so-and-so was a terrible colicky baby and “hopefully that’s not hereditary.” I began to feel claustrophobic in my own skin. I was carrying this little human that apparently belonged not only to me but 35 other people too!
My husband and I live far from our families.
Mine is in Canada, and his is mostly in Texas. Until this point, we had managed healthy relationships with everyone with good communication and frequent visits. Now, we had to think about people coming to stay with us to see the baby. Some family members insisted they be present at the birth. By my second trimester, I was borderline obsessed with worrying about how we were going to include everyone when our daughter entered the world.
As my due date approached, we had planned what we thought was a great visiting schedule. My husband’s parents would come immediately when the baby was born since they were closer. They would spend a few days with the baby and help when they could. Then my parents would come a few weeks later. For some reason, I also thought adding my brother, his partner, and my two aunts was a fantastic idea too.
Fast forward to week 37 and I was induced early for hypertension and preeclampsia at Lovelace Women’s Hospital.
As scary as that was, I was more stressed about having to share my sweet new bundle of joy with everyone. She was my baby, and I wanted her all to myself! I cherished those hours in recovery with my new baby. I cuddled her in my arms and dreaded the moment I had to hand her over to anyone but my husband.
Finally, we made our way home where my husband’s parents were waiting anxiously to meet her. (We had successfully asked for no visitors at the hospital, albeit with some hurt feelings and unsmoked cigars). I waddled into the house, shaking with worries about saying the wrong thing or unexpectedly snatching the baby from some prying fingers. Here we were, the moment where I had to share my baby.
As soon as I saw my mother-in-law’s eyes light up when she saw her granddaughter for the first time, I understood it all. My fears melted away as she cried tears of joy holding her granddaughter in her arms. My father-in-law looked on and began to cry too. I couldn’t believe I had wanted to keep something so precious from them. At that moment, my entire outlook changed: my baby was extremely lucky to have a family that wanted her and loved her.
She was truly blessed to have a village to take care of her before she was born.
Over the next few months, my parade of visitors arrived. Everyone reacted similarly, basking in the innocence and sweetness a newborn brings. Instead of resenting their comments, I listened intently, joining in on their ‘what-ifs’ and wondering who this little girl would turn out to be. I’m proud to say I now look forward to that extra set of hands, words of wisdom, and unconditional love my daughter’s extended family shares with her. I love that she looks like her grandfather, has her dad’s long legs, and has my big front teeth. As time goes on, she continues to reveal how she fits in with our combined families, and it makes my heart feel full.
My daughter, her granddaughter, his niece, her cousin, our little caboose.
Originally published March 2022.
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