June…in September

I am something new.

I am the same as last week but also forever changed.

I have become an aunt.

All thanks to 8 pounds of purely precious June Marie Bruce.

The road to aunt-ness has been a journey of great anticipation, some years of lonely impatience, nine months of admiration and awe at a thoughtful and strong preparation for parenthood, and tears, oh there have been tears.

After Christmas 2011, I sat in my mom’s kitchen in Colorado with my adult siblings around the table and my two young children underfoot, and asked Laura when she and James (then married 3 years) were thinking of having a cousin. You can see the lens by which I viewed their life was through my own- their baby would give my kids a cousin and give Drew and me some parenting peers in the sometimes lonely role of being the only couple with kids.  I guess the loneliness was a bit more acute that evening because when Laura told me it would be another couple of years, I started crying. Everyone just kind of looked and me and let me feel it out…no, Laura wasn’t going to have a baby for me…obviously. Deal, Linds and give people baby-making space!

Drew and I forged ahead and had another baby ourselves (ah, Oakley) in 2012. We think our kids are some of the luckiest in the world…Eli, Andi, and Oaks are loved by 6 sets of aunts and uncles who know them and enjoy them. A life blessing 12 people long.

On Valentine’s Day this year, I cried aunt-anticipation tears again. Laura and James told Drew and me over lunch of final Valentine’s Day present coming 8 months later! At that table, the tears were for Laura and James- their family was growing. My joy was first for them, then for me…as it should be.

From March til September, Eli, Andi, and even Oakley, got around the cousin idea. Eli would introduce Laura’s belly to his friends, “Want to meet my cousin?” Andi drew pictures and wrote stories of Laura’s journey through pregnancy to the hospital and into new-mom joy. Oakley’s anticipation was purely physical, he hugged Laura’s tummy, pointed when we asked where the baby was, and carefully calculated to find a seat on her lap in those last days.

Oakley and I got to be a part of the early stages of Laura’s labor on her due date. That day,  Aunt Laura and Uncle James were remade as they worked their own kid into the world over a thrilling, tiring, focused, un-medicated, and triumphant 24 hours. It was September 27th that they became brand new themselves; they are now “mom” and “dad”.

Laura was completely mentally and physically ready for the work of working her baby from the inside out. James was steady and encouraging, unflinching in his advocacy for Laura and the life that was soon to be in his arms.

When we heard there was a baby to snuggle after Laura’s night of hard work, we loaded up and headed to the hospital with one multi-colored flower, one still gender neutral balloon, and 5 giddy people.

To see Laura holding her baby brought the final tears on my pilgrimage to being an aunt. I was overwhelmed with the joy for seeing a healthy baby finally here and my strong sister, so ready to be a mom. She introduced us all at once as we crowded around and climbed up on the bed, “This is June Marie.

“It’s a girl baby!” I cried! Andi and Eli were excited…not even the slightest slight from Eli, the boy-est of boys. We loved June from that very first moment. To see Drew with a baby girl in his arms and to know how uninhibited his happiness and love was for this baby and her parents, was a moment I’ll remember in that hospital room for a long time.

photo 2 (32)photo 2 (33)photo 4 (22)

June Marie is a gift. As I know her now, I think she’s just wonderful. To see her is to see sweet and small, intricate and healthy, precious peace, and tiny photo (54)strength.  The doctor called her vigorous in her first minutes and she does indeed do life with her own energy. I’ve seen her eat, sleep, and wiggle, I’ve seen her follow the voice and the face of her mom and dad, and tolerate a photo session. I’ve been with her at Royal’s playoff watch parties and division series tailgates! She is strong and social. Hallmarks of a girl who will make her way in God’s world with deliberate action and a passion to be around other people. June puts her curled up hands to rest on her sweet, soft cheeks, sticks one leg straight out, and cuddles in close for your touch and warmth. You cannot deny her desire to be wrapped up in the love you freely have to give to her.

June, as your aunt, I’m amazed. I am encouraged that I already love you so much and miss you when I don’t know what’s going on in your day. To add love for you expands the heart and head space I have for kids in my family. I have three kids and one niece and that feels so good. I want to be a really good aunt to you June, and I will have to learn how along the way. Right now, as I hold you, know I’m praying for you, and studying you, and cheering you on as you adjust to the very new world you’re in. 

I will continue to hold you in my head and arms as you adjust to the world as it changes around you and you change within it. Know that I will love you always and no matter what. Know that you have parents who will steward your life with care and creativity and great, great love, but that you’ll also have an aunt, uncle and three cousins just 10 minutes away who are ever ready to play with you, take care of you, and hold you dear even when you no longer fit on one forearm. 

We celebrate that you are YOU, and you are here. We will be on watch to see and cheer who you will be. 

Welcome June. Thanks for making me an Aunt. Let’s grow up together. photo 1 (31)photo 4 (21)


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