Tales of a WhatsApp Auntie - Exciting News

Finding out you're going to be an auntie for the first time is exciting news - even if you live on the other side of the pond



I made a decision almost half my life ago to pack my bags and travel to the UK, to study, meet new people, and explore new places - but it meant leaving my family behind.

Leaving a family behind

To give you a little background, we're a close family. I have two younger brothers who I adore, and parents who met in the 2nd grade - and we actually like spending time together. We even set off on a 7 month camping trip together when we were 16, 12 and 9. Not only did we survive - we formed a bond greater than we'd had before. Being stuck in a tent while a bear sniffs around your campsite can have positive outcomes, and bring you closer together.

So leaving my family behind was a big decision, at first I dipped my toe in the water, and spent a summer in Ireland waitressing and working every hour under the sun (well, grey sky to be precise). I loved it, and returned the following summer on my way to Australia to study. I made a quick stop in England on my way and became a nanny of 4 girls (10, 7, 5 and 3 months). This experience changed my life and my plans. I stayed in the UK and studied here, got a full time job, a boyfriend, new friends - and I learned that I could love a child even if they were not my own. It was an experience that made me realise I could influence a child's life in so many ways without being their mother.

Exciting News

My brother had been sending messages for a few days asking when I was free to chat - but we were on holiday, and in a different time zone, so a call never happened. You can imagine my sheer delight as I'm sitting in the passenger seat of our car, driving the back roads of the Netherlands, when I got a WhatsApp message... and it was a scan! I think I let out an embarrassing squeal of delight, and couldn't suppress a smile - already filled with love for this little being - my first real role as an Auntie. My friends' children all call me Auntie, but there was something different about this moment - I was officially going to be an Auntie.

The long wait... Well not so Long

With a due date on the horizon, there was lots of time to wait. It was hard to know how you could be helpful from so far away, when in fact there is very little you can do when you live next door. I'd chat to my brother and his wife every now and then, and get updates, and of course as a nanny offer advice (when they asked for it). But it was going to be a long wait till the little one arrived.

Eventually the announcement was made that the little one was in fact a little boy, and with that piece of information that love that I felt initially started to grow. And, the countdown continued - even though I knew I wouldn't get to meet him until I next went home, I couldn't wait for him to join our family.

It turned out we didn't have to wait that long, he was eager to grace us with his presence and one Monday three months before the due date, I got a message to say they were headed to the hospital. This is the moment when being on the other side of the pond really kicks in. I'm not there - but this is also not about me. The biggest issue for me was not being able to give my little brother (and my sister in law) a hug in what had to be one of the scariest days of their life.

Even typing this the emotions come flooding back and my eyes are welling up with tears - I can't imagine the strength they had to gather in those days. I was so proud of how they held it together.

They had friends to rally around them and parents, but I wished with everything I had that I could have been there as a big sister. I had to remember this was one of the things I traded for a life overseas - it tugged at the heartstrings.

Bradley was a fighter, he started to pass all of the doctors' tests with flying colours - not a surprise knowing he came from hearty stock. He had moments where he had us on tenterhooks - moments that I could offer words of support but that all important hug had to be send through a WhatsApp message.

This was the beginning of a new adventure - how could I be an Auntie who was present when geographically I was a number of time zones away?

I'll let you know what it's like to be a WhatsApp Auntie in my next post.

Michelle Barr, WhatsApp Auntie

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