I was thinking a while ago about all the things I had expected to feel when my niece was born. I thought that I was going to be so jealous as I watched all the things that I knew would never be part of my life unfold in my sister's life. Growing up my mom and her sister had 5 daughters in a 42 month period. I'm the oldest by 3 1/2 years. We were also very close and had such fun together. Spending time with our cousins was generally the best our childhood got. It was one of the safest places, because my aunt wouldn't allow my father near her home. So there was never danger like so much of our lives as children. I had thought my sister and I would get to watch this with our own children someday. And instead my sister and I had a messed up relationship and I certainly wasn't going to be bringing children into our midst. I thought without that shared bonding there was no hope.
I thought that I could never understand the much more normal life my sister lives and that she could never understand the more challenging parts of my existence. I thought things would automatically work out just as she wanted them to. If she wanted a home birth and all sorts of restrictions on how she would raise her child then i was sure she'd have things just as she thought. After all, from my perspective she bounced out of our past and landed on her feet.
I did not expect that my sister would have everything she had planned about her birth to not happen. I did not expect that there would ever be signs that something isn't made the same way about my little niece that is there in most babies, that my tiny, sweet, beautiful niece may have her own set of difficulties in this world. If I did think about that I figured it would be the scary things our family already has: frightening types of diabetes (3/4 of my mother's sons are now gone to early graves due to diabetes) and bipolar.
I may be wrong. She may have not a single thing wrong except for a birthmark that will be so easily treatable. Everything else that may be wrong (and I can't be more specific here right now because some of what I think is speculation based on clinical observations and I'm not qualified to diagnose, nor am I sure. I just know I see things that worry me, and that there are things her pediatrician wants checked that may lead to other things) is speculative right now.
But even then, I have just learned that just because I got sick and she didn't and because I was more severely sexually abused than she was, that doesn't mean my sister has things easy. Somehow I got so used fighting for everything and that not being true for her that I forgot she didn't have some magical protection from pain. She's had to hear some scary things in the last days of her pregnancy and she's had to hear that her baby needs tested for some scary things in the next while. If my suspicions are right she still will have to hear some frightening things.
When I am working with people who have had strokes who are feeling frustrated with life and afraid and frustrated by the "why me/why not me" conundrum that is life with an illness I very often share with them about my little brother's stroke at 8 hours old. Inevitably they are shocked, then amazed at his story of healing. Generally they take away from that story that nothing is insurmountable and nobody is exempt from life. Yet I had forgotten this myself.
The one thing I never dared to hope for seems to be coming true; my sister and I are at least talking like friends. Everything I expected, once again, was wrong.