My sister had twins over the weekend, which means I am an uncle. I am very excited about this. The good news is we saw them the day they were born and they are beautiful (of course 🙂 ). The bad news is that my sister hasn’t wanted guests the past couple of days, which means we haven’t seen the babies since delivery… As someone who suffers from post-illness chronic fatigue, I’ve had to put a lot of thought into how I can be involved – I just don’t have the energy to make meals, run errands, etc. But I do love babies and kids, so have decided that I will be available to watch the kids as needed, which is less stressful for me than cooking, cleaning and running errands. Right now, she doesn’t want guests, but I know from experience that after the excitement (and nurses) dies down, people watching the kids is a god send :)… My family — starting with my grandma — is strange about guests. They just don’t like having them. My mom can’t relax when she has guests, and is a wreck before guests and exhausted after them, and I know that my grandma was the same way (I remember her complaining about my aunts and other guests when they’d stay with her). I too didn’t look having roommates or guests in my early adult years, but with my very-social wife’s influence plus having a cabin where guests like to stay was able/forced to learn to relax and take guests in stride. Also, there was a wonderful wonderful wonderful Dear Abbey letter where a woman wrote that she lived in a remote area with 4 kids and 2 dogs so loved having adult guests, and they were welcome to stay and make themselves comfortable but they would just have to deal with the mess and the dogs etc. I love that letter – it reminded me that what is important is not having a perfect house, it is the people, and if having a slightly dusty house is what is required to relax around guests, so be it. I am glad I’ve learned to accept (and embrace) having overnight guests. I used to want to spoil them with good meals and a perfect house, but now have just learned to spoil them with my interest in them and embracing them 🙂
My sister was implanted with donated (fertilized) eggs today, which means hopefully she could have a baby by Christmas! I am super excited and have been checking in with her, but my wife M thinks I should play it down, since there is a realistic chance the eggs won’t take, leading to disappointment/pressure for her if we are too excited. But my fear is this: when we *aren’t* excited for her, when we aren’t cheering her on and rooting for her, she might feel alone…
When I was battling lung disease most people were afraid to ask me how I was doing. They might ask my wife privately, but they never asked me. Which made me feel so alone while fighting a potentially fatal and emotionally devestating disease (devestating, because it took away so much of my identity, such as extremely high energy and terrific health). I don’t want to make that mistake with other people – I’d rather make the mistake of asking too much, or showing too much interest and having her tell me to back off, then to not ask at all and have her feeling privately isolated.
Along the same lines, she has been feeling emotional and alone through this two year process, which has included hormones, fertilization tests, etc. etc. She said at breakfast a few weeks ago that it is hard not to feel alone. Believe me, I get it – I never felt so alone as those months I was recovering from my disease. It took me a few months of therapy to recover from that – I suggested she get therapy, but I don’t think she will. Which is too bad – therapy took me from feeling utterly alone and devestated to feeling very grateful for being alive, something I don’t think I could have done on my own.
So I will moderate my approach, but will continue to check in. And to keep my fingers crossed that in nine months I’ll have my first nephew/niece.