Beatrice, Nyan and I live in New York. Almost all of my family lives in Iowa or a neighboring state. Most of Beatrice’s family – including her parents and five siblings – live in England, with aunts, uncles and cousins scattered across the globe, from Burma to Singapore to Tokyo to Houston. Most of our close friends also live far away – the Midwest or England, for the most part.
Point is, it’s pretty easy to feel isolated. So thank god for family.
Beatrice’s brother Ricardo visited for a week earlier in July, missing Nyan’s birth by seven days. My parents, as you’ve read, arrived in New York about a day after Nyan’s birth and stayed for close to a week, providing immeasurable assistance with those early days when we had no clue what the hell we were doing. And on the first Saturday of Nyan’s life, we were visited by Beatrice’s Aunt Nyo and Uncle Min Han.
Aunt Nyo, or Auntie Pixie, is a younger sister of Beatrice’s father. They’ve lived in Frederick, Maryland, for about a decade, and as it happens, every July 30, they drive up to a Buddhist temple in Englishtown, New Jersey, to pay respects. Englishtown is maybe an hour from Brooklyn, so after they finshed at the temple, the drove up the New Jersey Turnpike and came to visit us.
We spent a lovely few hours with them – talking, getting to know each other (I’d never met them before), having dinner, laughing – the usual family stuff. They spent the night at a hotel just a few blocks south of us (this area of Brooklyn is home to several new chain hotels, which is odd when you realize that they’re in the shadows of the Wyckoff housing projects and almost spitting distance from the Gowanus Canal, a sluggish body of water that’s even less scenic than its very unattractive name.) My parents were still in town, and they too spent that night at another one of these new hotels, because we had yet another family member arrive that Saturday evening: Nyan’s Aunt Emerald, a.k.a. Auntie Zuzu, a.k.a. Beatrice’s sister.
We’d arranged for her to arrive on July 30 – a week before the due date – with the plan being she would help Beatrice with her last week of pregnancy and pitch in for the first week of Nyan’s life. That didn’t work out, of course, as Nyan came early. And thank god for that: she was with us for a full two weeks, and needed every second.
Emerald is a nurse and a mother herself, so she knows her way around a baby. She helped out with feedings, diaper changes, cleaning the apartment, running errands, teaching us the best ways to hold and feed and burp Nyan, and perhaps most important of all, providing constant companionship and sisterly love to Beatrice.
She left Friday evening to return home. We threatened to steal her plane ticket, bribed her with cakes from the bakery around the corner, begged and pleaded, but no dice: she’s had to go. (She wasn’t happy about it either; I’m told (I was at work when she left) that she had to tear herself away from Nyan. Those two definitely bonded, as you may have seen in this video.)
So now, and for the next week, it’ll be just me, Beatrice and Nyan, for the first time. We’re not too stressed about it – we’ve got the basics down; Beatrice especially so, but I’m doing alright. Next weekend, two more of Beatrice’s brothers – Dominic and Sean – arrive from England for a week’s stay. Then it’s another week on our own before Grandma L. comes back for another visit. After that, who knows, but we expect to host a steady stream of family and friends from around the world. (We’ve also finally set up Skype on the laptop, and had our first video chat earlier today with Bea’s parents, Ricardo and a fresh-off-the-plane Emerald. Skype’s pretty cool, and it’ll definitely help us stay connected with peeps around the globe, too.)
The point, if there is one, is that while we may be pretty isolated here in Brooklyn, we’re also blessed to have a strong, loving network of family who are all doing whatever they can to welcome Nyan to this world – including, in many cases, giving up their own free time and traveling long distances to help out. So to everyone, we say: “Thanks for your support!”