I became an aunt again yesterday, when my youngest brother and his wife welcomed their son into the world. He was nearly a week overdue, but arrived after only five hours of active labor; here's hoping his cousin takes notes on the speedy birth (listen up, baby).
He's lovely and perfect and kissable. He made a perfect first test subject for the new camera I had happened to buy that afternoon.
When we walked into the birth room, I thought immediately about my niece, now 21 months old, whom I had also seen within hours of her birth. (More like minutes, actually.) My laparoscopy had been only a few weeks before. I was preparing for our first IUI. It was among the lowest and hardest of infertility days, because I had started to hope again, and that felt particularly dangerous and vulnerable.
I walked in and saw her, and her poor exhausted mother (who had endured 47 hours of labor - again, baby, take notes on yesterday's birth). I stayed for about three minutes until it hit me: that might never be me. Ever. I might never sit in a bed with my new child in my arms, still panting from labor, exhausted beyond measure and joyful beyond reason. I might never be her.
I ran out of that room as quickly as I could, trying to make sure no one saw me, and stumbled, sobbing, into the lobby of the birthing center. My husband held me and took me home, crying all the way. I loved that child, and I very nearly hated her at the same time, because she was everything I wanted and, at that moment, it had never felt so far away.
Last night was different. Oh, infertility reared its ugly head - I panicked on the ride home until I felt the baby kick, worrying that I'd suffer some horrible irony and my child would die the same night its cousin was born - but it didn't take over.
I'm quite sure you never get over infertility. But I also think it's possible, at some point, to put down the burden of it and walk on. It will have changed your posture forever. But it does not have to define me.
Believe me, I'm quite aware that I say this from a point of great privilege; and that I might feel very different under different circumstances. All I know is, I'm grateful that the tears last night were of joy.
Happy first day of life, baby nephew.