I was 18 when the doctor told me the weird and random autoimmune disease made it likely that I'd never be able to safely give birth.
Up until that point the only thoughts I'd given to child birth were ways to prevent it. I don't think my brain and heart really got it at that point.
A few years later I was shopping for a baby shower for a friend and burst into tears in the baby aisle of my favorite Target. I still didn't really get it.
Then it was my tag line, my smart ass line about my barren self, how child birth might kill me so I just drink wine and play with my dogs. Make other people feel uncomfortable when I talk about it so I don't have to find a way to feel comfortable with one life decision taken completely out of my hands.
Instead, I'd be the cool aunt who could sleep in and take kids to the zoo and then return them to their parents.
I still hadn't dealt with it, I still haven't dealt with it, is that something you even deal with? It's just a thing in my life. Maybe my platelets and immune system will learn to live together in my body peacefully or maybe they won't.
I got dogs. They became my babies. Now I have a real baby that's not mine, but he gets to be mine one day a week and every day for the rest of our lives, or as long as he'll let me be his Aunt Kate. Although he can't say Aunt Kate. He can say dog and tries to kiss Molly and Bella just like he does me so he may think I'm the head dog at my house.
This is sweet baby Elijah James. When he was a newborn I tried really hard to convince his father to change his name to Spencer James so he'd be named after me. I wanted to put my mark on him to guard him forever.
His first few months in the world were a kind of bizarre chaos that I previously only thought existed in lifetime TV movies starring Valerie Bertinelli, and now know also in my family. Now he is here. He is perfect and he inherited the fake smile I used as a child and inherited from my mother when she was a child.
We wrinkle our nose and show you all our teeth. I'm not sure why, but it's a thing. He has blue eyes like the Pops he'll never know but here thousands of stories about and he loves to hold tight to you while he sleeps. Jenny Lewis songs soothe him when he cries in the car and anytime you hand him a stuffed animal he will kiss it on the mouth.
He will be one year old on February 3rd. It feels like yesterday he was a tiny newborn with dark hair that stuck straight up and we tried to figure out how our dysfunctional family was going to shelter him in the world.
Now he toddles around, throws balls and loves to read the mail. We have long talks about everything and he's the best brunch date I've ever had.
I may never have my own child. I may adopt as many as they'll let a foul mouthed workaholic have, who knows.
This boy stole my heart the first time I saw him sleeping peacefully in the chaos around him. He brings out the best in me, I've never been patient or kind or even cuddly until Eli decided Aunt Kate was a cuddle toy.
We sit for long times with his head on my chest. His hand on my face or patting my back. He smiles at me and gives me the side eye before doing something he's not supposed to. He can do whatever he wants as long as he gives me kisses on demand and learns to say something that sounds like my name.