Dear Savvy Auntie,

My niece will be born any day now and I'm really nervous.

My sister announced her pregnancy about a month after I had a really rough abortion that I had a hard time coming to terms with and I didn't share with anyone. This will be my mother's first grandchild and everyone is thrilled, including me.

I will admit certain parts of her pregnancy was really hard for me and I took coped by alternating being super supportive and taking some distance. Now we are going to welcome a beautiful baby girl into the family and I'm a bit scared. I don't know if I could handle the 'you don't have a child' or 'you are trying to be her mom' comments and I don't want to step back so much so that it's weird and I'm not in the baby's life as much as I should be.

I love this baby girl so incredibly much already and I'm not sure how to handle this. What would be expected of me when the baby is born? What would be viewed as overstepping boundaries? Any advice?

Nervous Aunt in Waiting

Dear Nervous Aunt in Waiting,

You have been through a difficult loss (my condolences) and must first spend some time mourning your abortion and what might have been. Perhaps, you could buy a plant or put a small stone in an existing one to commemorate your decision. It is important so that you don’t bring your unresolved feelings to the new niece and your sister. Keep in mind that you have a warm community of aunts on who can offer you support and understanding.

There is no recipe for aunthood; so, don’t go in search of the “right” way to behave and feel.  Each relationship has its own characteristics and you will see how it unfolds as you meet your niece and she meets you. Try to stay open to the true nature of your interactions.

You must take your cues from your sister about how much involvement she would like. Some new mothers want all the help they can get and others need to prove they can do it all themselves. Keep in mind that these attitudes change in a very short time; so be flexible.

Try to ignore the family’s comments…”what about you?” They are expressions of their own needs and desires and not a commentary about you to take personally.

I suggest you think of a special gift for your niece that initiates the special relationship you wish for… something handmade?  A “lovey” she sleeps with? Or a big cozy stuffed animal? Don’t forget a lovely gift for your sister…she will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
I hope this is helpful and allays your anxiety, so that you can be more focused on the present time and have less negative anticipations.

Best of Luck,
Natalie Robinson Garfield


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