December 25th was supposed to have been a quiet, leisurely day. It certainly started out that way. My daughters woke up late. I made pancakes. We watched episodes of “Sesame Street” and “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” while my husband assembled the last of their Hanukkah presents. We cuddled on the couch. My younger sister was nearing her due date, so I checked my phone.
There were two missed calls from my parents.
I frantically dialed my father’s phone number. He answered on the second ring. “It’s a boy!!” he shouted into my ear. Apparently, the baby couldn’t wait to meet us. My sister’s water had broken overnight. She and my brother-in-law left for the hospital at dawn, and the baby was born soon after. Mommy and baby were well. He rattled off the baby’s name and weight. We hung up, and my father sent me a picture. And it hit me: I was an AUNT!
I quickly put together three dinners–all meals that could be eaten one-handed. I put them in tupperware and went to drop them off in my sister’s freezer. The next morning, my husband stayed with our girls while I made the drive to the hospital alone. I parked, signed in, and was handed a special ID. I made my way up to my sister’s room, and knocked on the door.
And there she was. My sister was pale and tired and still in a hospital gown, but she was sitting up in a chair. She had just finished her breakfast when I arrived. She smiled.
My sister and brother-in-law looked like all newly-minted parents: exhausted, anxious, and thrilled. I thought about all the wonderful things they can look forward to: quiet moments rocking the baby. The wonder of his first smile. His first words. His first steps. Little clothes and hats with animal faces. The smell of his skin after a bath. The weight of a small, snoozing body, curled up on an adult chest.
I also vividly remembered all the challenges that accompany a 7-pound bundle: Trimming his impossibly tiny nails. Breastfeeding struggles. Colic. Reflux. Nap strikes. Diaper rashes. Sleep deprivation. Going back to work…
How can I help them? I wondered. How much should I tell them? How can I prepare them for how drastically their lives will change? I wanted to shower them with early parenting wisdom, but didn’t know what to say.
Then I saw the baby, and my entire vocabulary packed up and left the room. There were no words; just an instant, overwhelming flood of love. My nephew was a perfect blend of his parents, and it made me smile to see their features blooming in his tiny face. And he had little elf ears, like me. (Sorry, buddy. I’m not quite sure how that happened.)
They let me hold him. I brushed a finger along his arm, amazed. This little person would call me Aunt, and it was a title I wanted to earn. I silently promised him that I would always be there for him. This little boy will grow up alongside my daughters, and I hope they will be friends as well as cousins. I grinned, thinking of all the fun they will have together… and the trouble they’ll likely get into. Three bright, beautiful Jewish kids, who will run amok in New York City. Oy.
I knew I needed to give him back to his parents, and I would, but I wanted to steal a few moments more. My daughters enjoyed music from their earliest days, and I thought my nephew might feel the same. I grabbed my phone and found my Kveller-inspired Hanukkah Mix. I hit the “shuffle” tab, and the opening bars of Matisyahu’s “Miracle” quickly filled the room. I rocked the baby gently to the beat.
I thought of my daughters, who loved this song. Each time they heard it, they spun around the living room like drunken dreidels, and then collapsed in a laughing heap. I looked over at my sister and brother-in-law, and I knew they could handle the challenges of parenting. I glanced down at the perfect, healthy baby, who was still sleeping on my arm.
“Do you believe in miracles?” the song asked.
Yes, absolutely. Completely. Yes.