I am fortunate to be an aunt to two nephews and two nieces, all of whom I love dearly. I hate living far away from them, and I really enjoyed my time with them while living back home while Andy was in South Korea. Today, my youngest niece Payton turned 1. This little lady is special to me – again, I love all my nieces and nephews – but she is special because I was there to witness her birth.
My sister Jessica had asked me to be in the delivery room early in her pregnancy. I was thrilled, having been through it three times myself, and I was so happy to be able to witness this since I knew we would be moving to Italy soon. I got the call as I was doing laundry on a Tuesday night. My children were already in bed, so I left them with my mother-in-law and headed up to the hospital, not even changing out of my workout clothes. My sister is pretty much a champ during labor, so I did not know how long or short this would be. I brought my spring Vogue, a nice 600+ pages, and a big Diet Pepsi. I was ready.
Unfortunately for me but fortunately for my sister, I did not have to wait long. Our other sister Elizabeth and I were both there to watch as Jessica made drug-free labor look almost blissful. It was only a few hours after I arrived there that with two pushes, Payton Jean made her arrival. She was born on February 22, and she was so beautiful. During my own labors with my girls, I could not stand to watch or think about what was happening to my body. I would avert my eyes from any mirrors and refused to look down at my child as I pushed. For this, I was fascinated, not to sound too gross. I watched this miracle happen like I had never seen it before, despite my obsession with labor and delivery shows and my own experiences. The first time I saw that little girl and then held her, I was hooked.
Payton’s first week or so was a little rough – she swallowed some meconium or baby poop during delivery, and she spent a week and a half in the NICU. It was hard, since Jessica also had my nephew to worry about. However, that is what is great about family – they can help at the times you need it most. I lived only five minutes away from the hospital, so I made visits almost every day. My mother-in-law even helped by watching my girls so I could go up to the hospital. I could give Jessica a break and let her relax, but I mostly just loved my bonding time with Payton. She was so beautiful and looked even smaller than we really was under the tubes and machines. I could have held her for hours.
When she finally came home, I tried to spend as much time with her as I could. I often employed the, “I’m moving to Italy soon, so I should get to hold her whenever I want” excuse. I loved that she seemed to be attached to me too, always quieting down when I held her and eating really well. She even smiled a lot! I’m still saying that I will be her favorite aunt (sorry Elizabeth!).
Today, that little girl is growing up and turning 1. I wish so badly that I could be there with her to celebrate. I miss my family always, no matter where we are living, but living this far is especially challenging, and birthdays and holidays are always bittersweet. I sent her a GapKids outfit for her birthday – I’m the aunt that buys clothes, but always good clothes – and hope to see some great pics of her at her party. Someday, maybe she’ll read this and know how badly I wanted to be there and how much I love her so much. Happy Birthday Payton!