Monday, September 12, 2011

Tilly Kid

My niece, Tilly, is twelve days old today.

Twelve days! You'd think I'd have mentioned her before now. I meant to, but I was a bit of a mess for about ten of those twelve and I've only just gotten around to snuffling up my snots. It's times like these I feel especially grateful that I'm not on Facebook and socially obliged to share my status updates. OMFG AM AN AUNTIE! SO DEPRESSED!!! The week I spent feeling sorry for myself because my brother and his wife have a beautiful new baby (and I don't) was not my finest one.

And she is a beautiful baby. "Gorgeous!" says my nana "I thought she'd be ugly, you know the way they are." But she has auburn hair and big dark eyes and little bow lips like her mammy's. She smells like milk, and I like that after I've held her I can smell her on my skin. The same is true of our cat, of course, but he smells of piss and catfood.

We visited Tilly the day she came home, and my brother gave her to me to hold. I fed her and winded her and tried not to look scared. She burped and I felt like a champion. I can only imagine how proud her parents must feel just to hear her breathe. "It's like we won the Lotto" my brother said, and he sounded like he still couldn't quite believe it. I called him the day after we'd visited to see how they were, and he called me back later that evening to see how I was. He knew I'd find it hard. I couldn't even begin to tell him how grateful I was that he acknowledged that, and that he found any room in his heart to feel sad for me when it must be spilling over with love for his wife and daughter.

It's an awful thing, to feel upset at the birth of a child. I felt selfish, mean-spirited, small. And very alone. I felt like there was nobody I could talk to about it, because I was ashamed of feeling that way and I thought that my friends and family would feel ashamed of me too. So I cried at home, curled up in Andrew's lap, red and angry-faced and colicky. And I hated myself for it. It was only when Andrew got upset some days later and I felt like I might burst with love and sympathy for him that I realised how my family had been feeling for me.

There's a whole lot of spilling and bursting going on here, I realise. Cut me some slack. I'm emotional.

My aunt Patricia spoke to me on the phone on the evening Tilly was born, and she heard the catch in my voice. "You know now how I felt when I heard you'd arrived" she said, reminding me that I too am special and loved, that my shine hasn't worn off. I felt a little like a child again, being consoled on a sibling's birthday, but I appreciated the kiss and cuddle all the same. I have a brace of aunties who take good care of me and I am determined to do the same for Tilly. Though I'm not sure about this "auntie" stuff. My aunt Carol has never allowed me call her "Aunt Carol" and it's only now that I understand why - it sounds so dowdy, so old. But I'll grow into it.

So here's to my good fortune and my happy family. "Tilly" (from the Irish tuilleadh) is a lovely, little-used word for that little bit extra over the standard measure. The thirteenth bun in the baker's dozen, a small, unexpected gift. I think it'll suit her.


Tessa said...

Tilly is a lucky little girl. She has an auntie with a heart of pure gold.

Jo said...

I remember how I felt when my sister in law was pregnant and I was trying, and even though I was only just trying it still felt... awful... no matter how I rationalised it too.

I'm sorry.

And congratulations! I love the name. Do you know if there's an English word for that expression? Someone asked me once and I came up with nothing.

Rosie said...

thanks, Tessa.

i don't know of a word in english, Jo. there's an equivalent cajun word, "lagniappe", which is defined as an extra or unexpected gift or benefit.

oh wiktionary, making me look so smart!

Anonymous said...

Don't worry, you'll have a tilly of your own soon.
In the meantime, you could give the cat a bath. They don't normally smell of piss.

conortje said...

So happy for your brother. Im keeping everything crossed and saying some prayers that I'll be saying the same for and A some day soon. Extra big hug from Paga XX

Leitrim Lady said...

Damn you for reducing me to tears in work. I love you x

Anonymous said...

Spend loads of time with Tilly, it can help release hormones. I'm sure you're probably sick of people saying it will happen for you when they don't know the specifics of your situation but while there is even the tiniest chance for it to happen for you believe it will happen for you.

Rosie said...

poetic licence, Anonymous the First. he doesn't really smell of piss, i was just annoyed at him for smashing another of my plant pots the other night and unrolling jacks roll all the way up the stairs.

who needs kids?

i'm keeping a note of all these hugs, Conor, to cash in when you get home.

Caroline! morto! i love you too.

thanks, Anonymous the Second.

eilis said...

amazing post! really beautiful. nieces rock - she'll always think you're excellent, and she'll be right....

Conan Drumm said...

I always confuse tuile with tuinne, as in béal tuinne? Which in this instance seems somehow appropriate.


Karen said...

She sounds like a little dote, congratulations!

I force all of my nieces and nephews to call me Auntie Karen. I don't answer then unless they use my title! I don't know why really, I just want the glory, I guess!

I'm sorry it hasn't happened for you yet - it's not fair, and you deserve it. I've my fingers crossed for you. If you'd like I can stick your name on an oul candle at Mass on Sunday. I pretty much hog all the candles and all the oul wans hate me anyway, so one more won't hurt!

Anonymous said...

I felt the same when my sister in law (in my eyes should've been in menopause) announced she was pregnant on her fourth. We'd been trying for 3 yrs. I was so upset. The day my niece was born i discovered i was pregnant. It will happen for you too. The very best of luck! Really enjoy your blog.