Some time, in maybe, late July I got a call from my sister (we will call her C). This was quite weird in itself as C and I are not exactly close. She is 4 years younger than me, we are pretty different people and we haven’t lived together (or even close to each other) for over 13 years. We usually see each other, maybe twice a year, we connect every so often through Facebook or maybe an odd message but that is it. Don’t get me wrong, I love her and would probably commit murder to protect her but we just are different people.
So…back to the phone call. My instant thought was something had happened to mum or my grandpa, or you know something awful. But that wasn’t it.
I cant really remember how the call went but I remember 3 words that made me feel sick… “I’m pregnant, Gem”. Typing those words out, and remembering that feeling actually just bought tears to my eyes.
I wanted to end the call immediately. Then I wanted to shout at her, ask her how the hell she could be so stupid, cry, be sick… I know it sounds over dramatic but it genuinely felt like my stomach had fallen out.
Instead, I asked her how she was and if her & her partner were excited. She said she was happy and they were nervous, because it wasn’t exactly planned (she didn’t think a baby was in their future, at least not for a good few years) I remember trying not to cry and show how unhappy I was. I was obviously pleased that she was happy but the overwhelming feeling was devastation and I didn’t know how to handle it.
For anyone who doesn’t know, being a mum has been the ONLY thing I have ever been totally sure of.
I have known that I wanted kids since I was a kid and I can’t actually imagine my life without them. However, I am now 31, I am single and there are no guarantees that I will ever be able to have kids (please don’t give me the platitudes, I’ve heard them all!) I KNOW that there is time, I KNOW that you never know what’s around the corner and I KNOW that fertility is weird. But NONE of this makes me feel any better.
The day C told me she was pregnant was hideous. I put the phone down and cried and cried and cried some more. Then… called my mum and sobbed my heart out to her. I was angry, I was jealous and I had this empty feeling inside that has never really gone.
I also felt utterly guilty.
Why could I not just be happy for her? Why was I so upset? Was I a bitch for not being happy? I voiced this all to my mum who was amazing and had apparently been expecting my call and knew that I would be heartbroken. We spoke for about an hour and by the time I had put the phone down I was able to tell my sister how I really felt. And she was also amazing, of course she was! And then I cried to B (my boyfriend at the time) and he tried to be amazing (he actually did pretty well) but he didn’t really get it.
As the weeks went on I continued to struggle with the fact that my little sister would be a mum before me. I cried at almost every mention of it and could not shift that feeling of guilt. The two hand in hand were torture. I kind of pushed C away even more, I wanted to be the supportive big sister but I just couldn’t. I know that was hard for her, I know she needed a big sister to step up and stop being a selfish dick. But my brain and heart just couldn’t do it.
LUCKILY, my mum suggested to my sisters brother, lets call him Bob, that he get me involved in the baby shower. In my past life I was an event manager, so party planning is kind of my bag. Mum SAYS she suggested it to utilise my skills but I know that she did it to get me involved and try and make this a positive thing for me too. I was also able to really talk to Bob about how difficult I was finding it all and that helped ease the feelings of jealousy.
And honestly, getting involved helped loads. I LOVED designing the decor, and creating a memory book for her as well as a super cute “guest book” and I was able to absolutely surprise C as she had NO idea I was coming.
Don’t get me wrong, seeing her pregnant was HARD. I felt pretty sick, I did NOT hold back tears and I had to duck out when they went home to listen to baby, in fairness I was poorly but I probably would have ducked out even if I wasn’t!
I slowly started to feel more connected to C and the little alien she was growing inside her. The closer we got to the due date, the less jealous and guilty I felt, the more I started to love the little bean who wasn’t even here yet.
Then…she went into labour and I cannot explain the feeling that rushed through me when I got the call. I was excited, nervous, but also had the background feeling of jealous and then the guilt monster stirred too! She was in labour all night, and then, at 11:15am on 14th January, I got a call “hi Aunty Gemma” and that was it, I was in floods of happy tears. I had a nephew.
I now love him so deeply, I cannot explain the feeling at all. I would do anything for the little squidge.
Yes, there are still days where I find it really bloody tough. There are moments when I cry and moments where the jealousy comes out and I just want to scream F**K OFF when people are saying how well she is doing (she is doing phenomenally, I am so bloody proud of her!). But I also want to be the best aunty and big sister I can be. I am so proud of C, and her partner, they have taken to parenthood so well. I am so excited to see the squidge grow up, to take him to his first rugby game, to be the cool aunty that he wants to hang out with but that he can also talk to. I can’t wait to HOPEFULLY see him become a big cousin and show my kids how to be cool, teach them how to wrap his mum round their little finger just like he will wrap me round his!
I guess I have written this for more catharsis than anything else but I also want others to know that it is OK to feel these things. It doesn’t make you an awful person, it doesn’t make you a crappy sister or brother. Recognising these feelings is important but they make you human!