Finally Meeting My Niece

My brother had a baby girl in January. Libby. His first child. As we started shielding a month after Emma and Gary announced the happy news, and because they live a couple of hours from us, we had to watch the pregnancy unfold over the internet. Congratulatory cuddles were replaced with squeals down the phone, scan updates were given over video chats, and the growing bump was admired via photos. Excitement and joy and worry and nerves were all conducted from afar. It was strange being separated during this important stage of their lives. And even stranger being unable to meet my niece when she eventually arrived.

Libby was born during the third English lockdown, when we were all restricted from travelling anywhere, or seeing anyone. So, unable to welcome her into the world with aunty cuddles and kisses, we instead cooed at her down the phone. Her early life was, once again, watched from afar. Photos and videos and photos and videos, plus regular Zoom calls with the sleepy newborn. We got to see her tiny fingers clutching Gary’s, we got to watch her curled up with her Mummy, we got to see her sleeping and waking and bathing and smiling and playing and grabbing and even having her nappy changed! 😉 We shared lots of her early weeks, which was amazing. Wonderful. Heart-warming. 🙂 But I was still desperate to meet my gorgeous niece. See her in person. Snuggle her and cuddle her and look into her beautiful blue eyes.

And amazingly, wonderfully, thankfully, I got to do so, on the very day that the lockdown was lifted! Knowing I wanted to hold the newborn, and to protect me from any coronavirus risk, Gary and Emma shielded for 2 weeks before meeting us. Yep, no shops or meet ups or pram rides in the sunshine. Libby even had her first injections a few days early, as they were originally planned during the shielding period! So so incredibly kind. And they also did coronavirus tests a few days before, and on the morning of the visit. They did everything they could to make it safe for me to hold her. 🙂

And it was fabulous. Brilliant. 🙂 Although already nine weeks old, she was still tiny, still light, still like a newborn. And so incredibly chilled and happy. After 69 days of longing to hold her, I made up for it by cuddling her for 6.5 hours! My arms ached by the end! 😛 They even went for a walk together, and left her with us for a while- first aunty babysitting duties! It was wonderful to see my brother and Emma so happy, wonderful to watch their pride as they finally got to introduce her, and wonderful to have company and to entertain again. After six months of shielding, they were the first family and friends we’d seen.

And over the last few weeks, we’ve had wonderful reunions with more of our nearest and dearest. After six months of missing them all, after six months of watching them through a screen, after six months of being apart… it was fabulous to finally see them all in person again. The little people had grown so much bigger! 😛 And it was brilliant to introduce them all to Kepler! Dinners in the garden, bike rides in the wood, rambles in the field, picnics in the country. Sunshine and drizzle, warmth and cold. Big coats and lots of layers. It’s a sign we’ve truly missed each other, when we’re all excited about eating our sandwiches together in the rain! 😀 To keep safe, we all took coronavirus tests before meeting up, they didn’t come into our home, and we continued to socially distance from each other. It’s still not quite the same obviously- I’m desperate to hug everyone and give the kiddies scooter rides again- but it was amazing nonetheless. A massive step closer to normality. 🙂

The sun is shining, I’ve seen some of my favourites… the storm clouds are drifting away. 🙂

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