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From An Auntie's Point Of View
Member Name: Silverwillow
Firstly I should mention that I am 23 years of age and I have no children. You're now asking yourself why I'm writing on this topic! Well after reading through several accounts I thought I would give an account but from a different viewpoint.
My sister was 17 when she found out she was to be expecting. I received a very cryptic call and was told to return home (6 hour train journey) as soon as possible. It was midnight before I reached home and slumped on the sofa. I knew something big was going on as the family were tense and my sister was in a seriously cranky mood. They'd made her wait up for me getting home, which was unusual. When she told me, my first thought was that this was some kind of sick joke and I was silently furious, the longer the silence continued the more I realised that this was reality. It was followed by hugs and quiet words of congratulations before she hurried off to bed.
That night I didn't sleep, I lay awake thinking of what I'd got up to between the ages of 17 and 21, all the places that I'd visited and all the mad, random things my friends and I had done. It would be so much harder for her and her partner of 3 years, they would miss out on so much (or so I thought, I was wrong).
The next day I was rather quiet and I watched everyone as they found out the news, the fear in my sisters eyes at having to wait for yet another disappointed reaction. At this time in our life my sister and I weren't very close, arguments over the years and generally being complete opposites had made it hard for our relationship to be anything more than blood sisters. That all changed in a second that day.
I realised that my sister needed someone to talk to about the positives of having a child, someone to share and bring out that excitement that she was so desperate to show. So I kickstarted it, and anyone that upset her by being negative (realistic was allowed as long as it was in a positive manner) suffered my wrath. I've worked in finances since I was 17 and I knew that the matter of housing, transport, child costs needed to be discussed but she didn't need more questions thrown at her, she needed help with the answers.
That weekend my sister and I were sharing a hotel room on our family weekend away. When we were alone we'd talk about baby, names, how I would be the best auntie in the world to that wee person and I would make sure that he/she knew she was loved from the word go. I was having no one refer to that child as a mistake and I was never going to let that child think that for even a second his/her family hadn't been excited about their life! But most of all we talked about how she was going to be a good mum. I'd noticed when she thought no one was looking that smile when she held her tummy, I'd heard her talking to her tummy in the shower and most of all I'd seen the change which happened in an instant when she went from a teenager to a mother when that doctor confirmed what was happening.
For some reason, I was the poor soul that got the stories of the less 'magical' parts of pregnancy, gore and all, but it brought us closer. We laughed our way through the NHS-issued hospital books that were older than us both and we talked about it everything. I mean everything - we sorted out a lot of what had happened over the years, explaining our actions, our feelings and why we reacted the way we did. By the time she was 20 weeks, we were more like best friends than sisters.
My excitement during those weeks had spread and soon everyone was dropping off 'a little something for the baby.' We had all pulled together and found my sister a little two bedroom house, she bought my mum's car off her as it was more suitable for baby seats and she was holding down two jobs.
The closer the due date came, the closer we got. I saw the dirty looks that people threw in her direction when we walked through the High Street and she was covering her bump, yet there were no second glances towards younger girls pushing prams. What is the difference? I wanted to wrap her up and protect her from it all. I grew very protective of her and often returned the glares exclaiming loudly at the rudeness of people. (I have no shame!) I'd soon have her laughing and giggling again, explaining that the dirty looks were because she was heavily pregnant and running about in size 6 jeans.
Her due date arrived and right on time, she went into labour. RJ was born at 8pm that night with a very straightforward labour. I wasn't allowed to visit her until the next morning and I don't think I slept that night between excitement and nerves.
When I walked into that room my first thoughts were my sister, she was pale and tired. I was heading to sit down next to her when she nodded towards the cot in the corner and I stopped dead in my tracks. I just stood and looked at him, he was perfect (coming from the lass that HATED to be around any child under the age of 5). I didn't want to move him or wake him but then those big blue eyes opened and I melted.
Holding him in my arms, I felt everything that I feel for my sister but a million times stronger. I would give this child anything he wanted, protect him from everything I could and love him as much as my heart would let me. It's the most overpowering rush of emotion and adrenaline I have ever felt, here was this little person that I'd only just met but I already loved him as if I'd known him forever. I promised him there and then that I would always be there for him. Feeling that as an auntie, I can't even begin to guess at how much stronger that must be for a mother holding her child for the first time.
My sister was contacted during her maternity leave by her main job and asked to return to work a bit earlier as they were promoting her to manager. Putting her priorities in line, it was best in the long run if she accepted. By the time RJ was 6 months old, my sister was a branch manageress of a national company, reaching her weekly targets with ease, a house owner and had her own little car. She'd achieved more than people twice her age can hope to achieve.
Things are different now, those that were cynical at the start adore that wee boy. It's hard to believe that they doubted my sister's ability as a mother, that they were disappointed in her for something out with her control. Only one person has used the 'mistake' word when referring to my nephew's life since and she will never dare utter it near my ears again. I will not stand for it. Yes he was unplanned, but NEVER a mistake.
Comparing her life to mine during the ages 17-21, yes they are drastically different but both of us were just as happy as each other. Our priorities were very different but now we have the same one at the top - RJ. That child has changed all our lives and that change is definitely for the better.
My sister and her partner are now expecting baby number 2! This time was totally different for them. They were able to tell everyone without worrying how they would react and I'm so happy that this was the case. Everything will be different this time for them, but I stand the same, my sister and her children come before everything in this world for me (much to the disgust of my husband).
This has turned out to be quite an essay but if you've managed to get to this point, thank you for reading. I suppose I needed to vent about my experiences with the more narrow-minded in our society, those I've felt the need to protect both my sister and my nephew from. I want people to realise that age is not a factor, because regardless of whether you are 17 or 37 if you put that child before anything else and try your hardest to meet his/her needs, but most of all love them more than anything then you will be a great parent.
Summary: People need to remember that age doesn't matter!