Things are far enough along that I can write about this in my semi-anonymous blog: my older sister is expecting her first child in April.
This has been a strange and interesting journey for me so far, as the auntie-to-be: my sister is my only sister, and we look and sound similar enough, despite our seven-year age difference, to have been confused for twins in the past. Seeing the changes she's going through in her pregnancy make me wonder how similar my experience might be someday in the future.
My big sister has been very generous with information about the process of pregnancy, which I'm grateful for - there are so many things a woman just doesn't think to ask about these things, so many changes that make some sense, but that I could see not considering until it's my own body surprising me. Like with many things in life, my elder sister is learning from experience and then handing me the cheat sheet, telling me to file these things away until I need to know them. This is definitely the advantage of being the youngest sibling.
While I continue to appreciate the top-notch job my sister does of being a good sister, I am also - like always, when encountered with a pregnant woman - in awe of what she's doing right now. She is growing a person. And she is doing this while going about her days: walking the dog, going to work, taking a swim. She's been growing a person for 22 weeks now, every hour of every day. Women really are incredible in this way, and sometimes the sheer wonder of this capacity we have is a little overwhelming.
My sister was staying at our apartment a few weeks ago when she felt the baby move for the first time in a way that she could definitively tell (she had been feeling "gas" before, but she confessed that the whole pregnancy made her so gassy she wasn't sure what she was feeling! Another note for my future files). When she described the little "dum-da-dump" tapping feeling she felt, right at the front of her belly, I envisioned the tiny hand that played this rhythm, and was amazed. She's growing a person. As I type, even, she's still growing that person. That's... pretty cool.
Over this past weekend we spent a good deal of time with my husband's two new cousins. One is 6 months old, the other 5 weeks. When I was holding the 6-month-old and gazing at sparkling Christmas tree ornaments with him, I realized I had some trouble imagining a time when he didn't exist. I've heard people say this about children before, but this little trailblazer of a cousin might just be the first tyke who made me feel it: there was a whole family, a whole world before him, but now that concept doesn't make sense, because he's here.
I understand that the Mormons believe we all have "eternal" souls, that is, our souls were hanging around waiting to be embodied before we were born - it's part of the reason they have large families. It's not a belief I necessarily share with them, but when a 6-month old baby makes you confused about what life was like before him, it makes one understand where they're coming from.
It's a bit intimidating to think that, this time next year, I'll feel the same way - though surely with more intensity - about my new niece or nephew. Right now it's still hard to imagine my sister and brother-in-law with a child of their own, and myself as an aunt. Soon, we won't remember anything but that.