Is the number of my first and second cousins, with the arrival of Lucas Patrick this weekend!
My cousin Erin, TK’s sister, is the proud and able mom, whipping through labor in a matter of hours and bringing the relaxed air that only a nurse who works with babies can offer to the thrilling, overwhelming uncertainties of new motherhood. (She confirmed she’s confident in her ability to take care of her new son. Prepared for raising a child, on the other hand? She’s as much of a newbie as the rest of you who’ve been down this road.)
I’ve seen a lot of new moms, and Erin ranks among the top in post-birth radiance. The M.A.S. and I, along with my dad and stepmom, had a great visit yesterday afternoon at the suburban hospital where Erin used to work and now delivered. Erin is often sandwiched between too many larger-than-life personalities in our family – TK and I are two of four cousins all around the same age who generally jostle for the throne in our hierarchy. (Actually, it’s no competition – I’m a distant third to my cousin “the general” Kristen, with Tracey acting as a COO of sorts in the day-to-day operations of the fam. Our lone male cousin long ago learned to do his own thing.) On the other side, Erin and TK’s younger sister Jane is a glamazon more than capable of holding her dazzling own as the youngest and most glitterati of the family. Erin is thus squarely in the middle, not only of her sisters, but of our overall brood. Luke joining her and her high-school-sweetheart-husband seemed to round out their chill, solid relationship in a manner that should only ground her further in the midst of all our clannish noise and antics. Nonetheless, my mom shipped 3 months worth of coffee to them this morning as they checked out of the hospital.
Given the span of five years between us, Erin was my cousin who bore the brunt of our torment when my friends and TK and I were growing up. I’m pretty sure we never convinced her she was adopted, though not for any failure of effort on our part. She knew the sex of my cousin Jane when my aunt was pregnant when the rest of us didn’t, because my aunt knew we wouldn’t believe her anyway if she told us. Now, when my friends see or get updates on Erin, one of them never fails to utter “We’re old!” (Jane, in contrast, is nine years behind us, and proved unrecognizable to my friends when they assembled for my grandmother’s funeral in January.)
Erin is also one of many sibs and relatives of my high school friends, so her extended crew is one I still trade updates with over beers when I turn up occasionally at Braintree functions. Erin and I went to camp together with all these peeps, and I have photos of us in matching sundresses that we picked out together for my mom’s wedding to my stepdad earlier that summer. My college friends know her too, from when she visited me my sophmore year at Deis, and again when she crashed with me in NY after my business school graduation, where we smoked practically an entire pack of cigarettes together before taking the party back to my apartment with some of my Deis girls. The visit to her in the hospital yesterday was one of the few other moments I got some quality time with just her.
(It was also the M.A.S. second visit to see a new baby in the hospital, after his brother was born when he was 8 and 1/2 and he turned up in his Little League uniform to visit his new sibling. Mostly what the M.A.S. remembers about this moment was that his parents bought him a present of a baseball encyclopedia to cushion the blow of the new baby).
As Erin settles in for the permanent realities of child rearing, I wonder if she’ll remember the $50 I offered her to have a boy when I learned she was pregnant. Though the panoply of daughters my friends have churned out would indicate research is correct that fewer boys are being born, Erin, as my stepmom and I were talking about yesterday, also seems to be leading a current pack of expectant moms with baby boys on the way. In fact, my cousins Eric (ok, his girlfriend Jody) and Claire, with their respective baby boys due, should deliver cousins 37 and 38 later this summer.