what kind of aunt am I?
January 28, 2012 9:06 AM   Subscribe

My nephew is 5 weeks old, and I still didn't go and see him. How bad, abnormal am I?

The day after my brother and SIL got a baby, everybody took the train / plane / car to go and see him. I wanted to come too, but because it was not totally expected (the baby came two weeks earlier than expected) and because it was Christmas time I had a hard time finding a plane / train that would bring me to them. My parents told me that I could wait a bit and come a little later, that it was no big deal.
I was so happy for my brother and SIL but I wasn't like "oh, I can't wait to see my nephew", so I waited.
And I am still waiting. The end of semester at school is pretty tough, I work every day, I don't have one free weekend. But I am wondering : if I really wanted to go and see my nephew earlier I would gone and seen him, right?
Yesterday I asked my brother when I could come and he told me that next week was perfect.

I'm feeling bad, and here are my questions :
- am I selfish for not showing up when the baby came? Maybe I hurt my brother and his fiancé? (I know I'll have to ask them this question).
-Is not being thrilled by the birth of a baby abnormal?
I am not fond of babies, I don't feel anything particular when I hear that so and so got a baby. But I'm happy around kids though, I love playing with them, telling them stories, etc.

Some information that might be relevant : I'm female, 24, in a wonderful relationship with an awesome guy. My brother is two years older, and it's his first baby. Though we are not deeply close I have a great, healthy bond with my brother.

Here's my throwaway email : lostnewaunt@gmail.com
Thank you in advance for your help!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (52 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You have your whole life to spend time with your nephew. In the grand scheme of things, 5 weeks is nothing. And it's not like your brother & SIL weren't busy, too (in fact, when you asked him, your brother didn't say, Come today! He said, Come next week!). You're fine! Go, meet the baby, make no apologies.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:12 AM on January 28, 2012 [24 favorites]

I guess it's on the less-common side to wait a while to visit a nephew, but it doesn't really matter what other people do. The only thing that matters is your relationship with your brother. So - ask your brother if it was hurtful to wait to see the baby, and take it from there.
posted by insectosaurus at 9:13 AM on January 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

New parents are often swamped with visitors right when a baby arrives - I think it's actually often nicer to wait a few weeks until the crowd has thinned out. That way you can spend a little more time with them all. And there's no obligation for you to feel any special way about a baby you've never even met - as long as you're happy that they're happy, and interested in the kid and how they're all doing, I think you're just fine. Just go when you go, don't fret too much, and try to be helpful. Unless your brother and SIL have a lot of help already (babysitter, housekeeper), do some of that stuff when you visit - take care of the baby so the two of them can take a nap or maybe even go out for a meal together, do their dishes, cook dinner - they will think you are an awesome aunt. Also, bring some gift for the baby - a stuffed animal or baby blanket or cute outfit - it will help make it clear that you've been thinking about your nephew even though you haven't visited before.
posted by unsub at 9:16 AM on January 28, 2012 [13 favorites]

Newborn babies are really not super interesting company, and new parents have enough on their minds that not entertaining the whole family as guests all at once is probably a bit of a relief.

Why are you feeling so guilty about this when everybody in your family is pretty much completely cool with it? Go next week, meet your new nephew, and find something else to feel bad about, because this is not worth the angst.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 9:16 AM on January 28, 2012 [7 favorites]

You're fine. People have varying level of "baby excitement." I bet once you meet your brother's baby, you'll feel differently - and even if you're not super-excited about the kid as an infant, well, infancy only lasts so long and it sounds like you're great with kids.

As for your brother and SIL, they are probably so busy/sleep-deprived they've barely even noticed. Go next week, have a great time.
posted by lunasol at 9:16 AM on January 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree that if you wanted to go and see your nephew earlier you would have gone and seen him.
That doesn't make you a terrible person or abnormal, but it might have an impact on your relationship with your brother and sister-in-law (your nephew probably won't care for a while).

It sounds like your brother wants you to come, so if you want to maintain that relationship you should make a sincere effort to go. Even if you will have to shift other plans or take off work (unless you can't afford it, but you don't mention money constraints, just time, so I assume that's not the problem, and if money is the problem tell your brother that).
posted by mskyle at 9:16 AM on January 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

I've seen people wait many months to wait to see a new family member, even one as close as a sibling's child.

When my brother had his third child, I didn't see him until he was a toddler, because of expense of travel.

If you've talked to your brother and congratulated him, you've done well. Being more excited for him than about the baby itself is somewhat normal.
posted by batmonkey at 9:17 AM on January 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, wait, I don't think I understood: you *are* going next week? Then you're fine! Don't worry about it!
posted by mskyle at 9:18 AM on January 28, 2012

When I said "Go next week, have a great time" I was thinking you were planning on going next week. Looking at the other answers, I'm seeing that might not be the case. If you're not planning on going next week, you definitely will need to address it with your brother, but still, it should be ok, as long as you don't wait too long
posted by lunasol at 9:20 AM on January 28, 2012

If you have spoken to them on the phone and all that between when he was born and now, and made all the usual happy Aunt congratulations and the like. Going later is fine. In fact they are probably secretly glad of the space and time to get used to being parents. Go see him, make a big fuss of him when you get there. Apologize to your family when you get there if you feel you should, but honestly if your brother says it's fine I'd believe him. Your nephew is 5 weeks old, he's not going to care one way or the other, it's the time you spend with you later when he can remember that counts.

Being an Aunt is the best thing ever and you'll love it, but babies can be pretty boring, I didn't really connect with my niece and nephew until they hit the starting to walk and talk stage, and then BAM instant crazy mad run into a burning building for them Aunty love.
posted by wwax at 9:21 AM on January 28, 2012

It's not worth it to worry about this stuff. It was Christmas, finding transport was hard, you're in school and you work.

The question is, can you make it next week? If not, try to let your brother and SIL know.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:21 AM on January 28, 2012

I waited six months to meet my niece. Granted, I didn't grow up with my sister and don't know her very well, but ... yeah. It happens. People have different reactions to procreation, and it can take a little while for some folks to come around. For what it's worth, when I did meet my niece, I was instantly in love. I didn't expect that at all, but it totally happened.

Don't beat yourself up. Do try to send a gift or something, though, and do all the usual "liking" of various baby photos on the internetz. Make sure they know you're around and interested and happy for them, even if it's going to be May before you actually meet your nephew.

And mazel tov!
posted by brina at 9:22 AM on January 28, 2012

You're not unusual at all. Please don't feel guilty. There's not much you can do or say beyond "congratulations, cute baby" during those first few weeks, anyway. (And not everyone loves new babies. That's not as uncommon as you think, either!) Things are so hectic after a birth. The friends and family that continue to show up in the months and years that follow, those that help out when they can, maintain a good relationship with one or both parents to keep them sane, etc. ... those are the people that will be remembered fondly when the kid is older. In a few years, your brother and sister will hardly remember who showed up the week after the kid was born!
posted by introp at 9:23 AM on January 28, 2012

I would not address it with them, especially if you're going to say you just aren't interested in babies, or their baby. There's nothing wrong with feeling that way, but new parents can be sensitive. Just go next week -- that's plenty early! -- and you might find yourself interested in this baby, looking for ways he looks like your brother, seeing your brother in a new light.
posted by palliser at 9:23 AM on January 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

You don't go because of the baby. You go because of your brother.

So, yeah, go next week. Are you going next week? If so, don't apologize. Just go. If you're not, and you want to maintain your relationship with your brother and your sister-in-law, yeah, you need to have a chat.
posted by J. Wilson at 9:25 AM on January 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

As a veteran of living far away from the rest of my family, my opinion is thus:

If it involves getting on a plane, you shouldn't feel guilty.

I didn't meet my niece until a few months after she was born. Nobody in my family seemed particularly butt-hurt about it.

I'm taking my advice from your mention of planes/trains and the ability to book an affordable ticket. If you are exaggerating travel complications and really you just live a couple hours away, disregard and go meet your niece already.
posted by Sara C. at 9:26 AM on January 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Everyone who says that people who have a newborn--perhaps especially their first one--are very tired and busy is right. When I had my babies, visits from people were very tiring. I often didn't feel up to making them feel welcome or even to having a very coherent conversation. This was especially true for people who traveled far enough to see us that they couldn't be nudged out the door after only 10 or 15 minutes. If you have been in touch with your brother and SIL to say congratulations, and perhaps been the recipient of some photos that you have appropriately admired, you're probably fine. Unless they're unreasonable people, which it sounds like your brother is not.

If you go next week, that will be great. If you can't go next week, look at your calendar and find a time when you can go (even if it's a ways in the future) and tell your brother, "I am looking forward to seeing you and the baby. I can get off work the weekend of X, is that a good time for me to come?" Don't apologize for not coming sooner or having to schedule a time in another month or whatever, because that just signals, "I think there's something wrong here!" If your brother or SIL says anything suggesting you should have come sooner, just say in a slightly-regretful tone, "I wish that had been possible."
posted by not that girl at 9:27 AM on January 28, 2012 [5 favorites]

No worries. Honestly, that first month is so intense, less guests are sometimes better. Especially as they're getting used to breastfeeding and all that.

The reason that some people want to go early is they're only lumpy and newborn-y for a few weeks. It is very special and unique.

But you'll probably have more fun now that they're sorted out their initial challenges. Do everything you can to help - cook, clean, hold baby while SiL showers, get groceries, whatever you can.
posted by k8t at 9:36 AM on January 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

None of our relatives were living in or near the city in which our first child was born. We actually asked our parents not to fly out right away as we wanted to learn on our own and get our sea legs first. MIL came after two weeks and my mom after 3. The fourth week we flew on a 3 hour flight to the city in which we knew the most people and relatives for someone else's wedding. Everyone got to meet little West then.

My point is 5 weeks is nothing. In fact it may even be considered a positive. You're going when you can. I can assure you nephew will not remember or care. Heck we had a surprise birthday party for our 1 year old and we told her that day and she was still surprised.

Worry not. Fret not. Visit and enjoy.
posted by AugustWest at 9:42 AM on January 28, 2012

Newborn babies don't do anything, so you haven't missed much. Parents of newborns, however, are generally stressed up the wazoo, and would probably prefer not to entertain guests the first week they get out of the hospital.

So, go next weekend if you can, or as soon as you can, and be sure to be a hassle free guest (make them meals rather than expecting them to make you meals, try to arrange your own transport to and from the airport if that's not outrageously expensive, be willing to stay with the baby while they run errands or to run errands for them, etc) -- they probably won't be bothered.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:46 AM on January 28, 2012

Frankly, I was irritated by visitors before about 2 months. ESPECIALLY my in-laws, because I was still recovering from birth and getting zero sleep. While they're the baby's family, they're not MY family, and I still didn't feel comfortable breastfeeding around them, looking like a mess, and all the joy that comes with being a new parent.

You probably inadvertently did your SIL a favor!

I know plenty of people who don't like babies all that much, even people who HAVE babies. That's not a big deal. Be gentle and loving towards them when you're around, that's all they need.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:47 AM on January 28, 2012 [9 favorites]

I'm going to go against the pack here and say that yes, it is a little weird and your brother and his wife may have found it a little offensive. It isn't really about whether or not the baby is interesting or not, its about sharing this moment with your family members. I don't think it's a huge deal, but I would offer a very short, sincere apology when you arrive, basically just saying that you felt pretty bad about not being able to come up sooner than now. Then move on and act really excited and interested in the new baby, whether you are really interested or not.
posted by Nightman at 9:49 AM on January 28, 2012 [4 favorites]

It is within the spectrum of normal to not be all "Oh my gosh! Babies," especially when you're nowhere near said baby and are under a lot of other pressure.

It is totally OK not to hassle the parents of a newborn with your presence. Honestly, most people try to butt in too much. Your interaction with them in those first few weeks would have been very limited, anyway.

If you can't make it next week, though, you need to do some stuff to indicate that it's not because you don't like your brother, his wife, or their kid.

This is something you could say:

"Hey, Brother, I know you said I should come next week, but things are super busy here and I don't want to be stressed out when I should be enjoying time with Nephew and you guys. How does [week between semesters] sound? I'll bring cake!"

You might have a sense that you should double-extra be "Oh my gosh! Babies" because you're female and because this is your brother, but I assure you this is not the case. Many people who are "Oh my gosh! Babies" are like that about babies they've never met whose parents they've never even heard of. Some people aren't even "Oh my gosh! Babies" about their own kids - babies are boring, difficult, fragile, and messy; the "Oh my gosh! Babies" thing is mostly a gross exaggeration of God/Mother Nature/evolution's mechanism of ensuring humans will take care of the darned things. It's also wrapped up in cultural expectations: if a Mega Huge Deal about new babies was not often made in your presence as a kid, or if you were exposed to but also disturbed by such demonstrations, you probably won't fit the stereotypical mold - the one you see in commercials and movies and stuff, I mean.

Especially if you are under stress and/or tend to be less emotionally swept up in things generally, I would be less than not at all worried about this issue.

posted by SMPA at 9:51 AM on January 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

My first nephew was born on a different continent from me. My parents were there, but there was no way I could afford the plane ticket or the time off. I finally met him when they came home for a visit 6 months later.

My second nephew was born a few weeks early, the night before I was leaving for a conference a plane ride away. I met him maybe 4 weeks later. I am not particularly a baby person, either, but I don't think you or I are bad people or even that unusual.
posted by hydropsyche at 9:58 AM on January 28, 2012

My sister works in an industry that has a notoriously busy time of year, she is extraordinarily busy at work right up to April 15. My first son was born on February 28, and she didn't make it down to see him until late April. I was fine with that- for one thing, is was nice to stretch out the visitors. And I understood that there were other factors in play, like, you know, her job.

I think that if you make it clear that you care about your brother and are eager to see him and meet the newest member of his family, there's more flexibility about exactly when that happens.
posted by ambrosia at 10:11 AM on January 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I just checked, and I went to visit my first nephew five weeks after he was born. This involved flying from Chicago to New York, and I was super broke at the time, which may be why nobody found it weird. But I don't think anyone found it weird. My brother and I continue to have a fine relationship, and I'm pretty close with my nephew.

If you can't go right now, I would send a really thoughtful baby gift. If you can go next week, go and bring a thoughtful baby gift. Ooh and aaah even if you're not a baby person. It'll be fine.
posted by craichead at 10:13 AM on January 28, 2012

I'm not into babies/children, regardless of whether they are related to me or not -- so no, I don't think your reaction is odd at all. Not abnormal, and not really selfish. I didn't meet my nephew or niece until months after they were born; however, I have a different relationship with your family than you do with yours. But for more of a comparison sake, one of my closest friends had a baby and I didn't meet the child for at least a month - a combination of "don't want to intrude-I'm busy-um, babies are not my thing" and she wasn't offended in the least.

I doubt it hurt your brother and his fiancee's feelings but I'm sure that they understand that while you are happy for them, you have a life too and that maybe you aren't as excited as they are. Send a card/gift, and give them lots of hugs when you see them if you think you need to smooth things over, but I think you're worrying about nothing.
posted by sm1tten at 10:21 AM on January 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

What kind of aunt are you? In my experience, you are a normal aunt.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:26 AM on January 28, 2012 [7 favorites]

I've got a three year old niece that I have never laid eyes on. You're fine.
posted by Sternmeyer at 10:32 AM on January 28, 2012

Don't worry about it. It doesn't sound like your brother is hurt anyway so just go and visit when it is convenient.

Also..."Is not being thrilled by the birth of a baby abnormal?
I am not fond of babies, I don't feel anything particular when I hear that so and so got a baby. But I'm happy around kids though, I love playing with them, telling them stories, etc."

Your feelings are not at all abnormal, but I understand(and can relate to) how it can feel like it would be. I'm a few years older than you and would like to have a kid or 2 myself one day, but I don't really have feelings either way when someone else has a baby(including family) - in fact a lot of the time I have to remind myself that someone had a baby so I remember to ask about it. I get more excited when someone gets a new puppy.
posted by fromageball at 10:40 AM on January 28, 2012

My best friend, who is more or less my sister (we're both only children), is being induced the day after I leave the country. I won't see the baby until he's a month or six weeks old.

And after that, I have a slammed up busy life that will probably prevent me from seeing them again until the summertime.

You're fine. You're not incommunicado, you feel slightly guilty about not being able to fulfill what you evidently see as your family duty to go be interested in this event. You're not a bad person. You're a sane, busy person who can't afford to fly cross-country or whatever at no notice.
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:45 AM on January 28, 2012

You are totally fine. I couldn't imagine being a new mom, after 9 months of pregnancy, labor, and meeting my new baby AND having to entertain/have endless conversations with people. Family or not. The poor lady is probably dang tired and focused elsewhere. I would see it as a blessing to give them some time.
posted by Vaike at 11:02 AM on January 28, 2012

From what I understand (and as others have said) new parents get more exasperated by the crowd of wellwishers who turn up, manhandle the infant into a state of wailing mayhem and still expect to be fed and watered by the new parents until the dawn of a new era / they decide to go home (whichever is soonest).

You were not in a position to visit, your brother knowns that and sounds OK about it - you're good. I saw my nephs a few days after they presented themselves but didn't squeak at them - however, you may be surprised (as I was) at just how much you do feel for them even when you don't think you're likely to.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 11:18 AM on January 28, 2012

My own father didn't come out to see his first grandchild until she was older than that. And we're very close, he was excited that she was born, &c. But it was a busy time at work, he doesn't find tiny wee babies to be particularly exciting, and so he came out when she was about two and a half months old. He is a devoted and involved grandfather.

so, yeah, there's nothing wrong with you. If you feel like they're disappointed, arrange a Skype call or something and tell them that you will be down there as soon as it won't wreck you to do so.
posted by KathrynT at 11:23 AM on January 28, 2012

-Is not being thrilled by the birth of a baby abnormal?

Possibly not the majority view but certainly a hell of a distance from being abnormal. Me, I can't stand babies. They're noisy, annoying and physically repulsive to me. I think it's a perfectly reasonable reaction to be unexcited by the arrival of yet another one of the things into an overpopulated world. Don't feel bad for having a rational reaction that happens to run against the grain of accepted social mores.

Anyway, your brother seems not to have a problem with it, so why worry?
posted by Decani at 11:26 AM on January 28, 2012

If it makes you feel any better, I've yet to meet our nephew and niece, and they're about 2 and 1, respectively. Another nephew is on the way, and I have no clue when we'll meet that one, either.

We haven't had the money to make any long trips in some time, and my husband's family is really spread out. And it doesn't help that all of these kids were born/will be born into unstable relationships, so their location is liable to change at any moment. Also, neither of us are really enthused about babies, either, despite that it seems to be THE defining achievement in his family.

So don't worry about it too much. The baby-crazy people in your family have probably been keeping their dance card plenty full, and you're going to meet the baby within a perfectly acceptable time frame.
posted by Coatlicue at 11:40 AM on January 28, 2012

You're fine, unless your new nephew is in very close driving range! I saw my first niece the day after: she was born about 20 miles away. I didn't see my second niece until she was six months old: she was born 3000 miles away.

And for what it's worth, my own father didn't see me until I was almost three months old, and he wasn't even get notified that I had been born until I was about six weeks old (he was out at sea in a US Navy submarine, pretending to be a rock on the ocean floor....): I don't think my mom was real thrilled, but we all survived just fine.
posted by easily confused at 12:54 PM on January 28, 2012

No. Every healthy 5-week-old is pretty much exactly the same as any other healthy 5-week-old that has ever been alive in the history of humankind. You're not missing out on anything.
posted by halogen at 1:22 PM on January 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

FWIW, I was SO HAPPY to not have any family visitors until Baby Rabbit was about 2 months old and we had a routine established. I have friends who had continuous family visits for the first 3 months, so people have different feelings on this, but I don't think waiting a month or two is strange in the least.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 2:11 PM on January 28, 2012

You're a plane ride away and you're super busy. It's fine. What matters is that you've told your brother and SIL how happy you are for them. Actually being there in person is not remotely required and can even be a bit of a nuisance. Just try to be as helpful as possible when you do visit. And assure them that while every other newborn baby looks like Winston Churchill on a bender, their's is the most extraordinarily beautiful, obviously intelligent and all-round delightful little person you've ever encountered.
posted by yoink at 2:26 PM on January 28, 2012

Like everybody else has said, you're fine.

And I just wanted to add, right now, for you, five weeks feels like five long weeks. To the parents of a newborn, five weeks feels like three long days.
posted by Catch at 2:35 PM on January 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Parent of a 3 month old here. You did the right thing. When the baby is born, everyone's on you like a rash - especially if it's your first. You're tired, still trying to work out what to do with this little thing that's now in your life, and you could not give a shit if the President wanted to come over. Coming over = having to get dressed, having to make at least a token effort to clean, possibly having to change your still-settling schedule.

We've had many many people visit (both of us from families with four kids), and there is not a single person that I wish had come earlier.

Pro-tip if you want to be the best aunty in the world: Bring packets of high-quality nappies as a present if they're using disposables; cook some meals, freeze them, and take em over; when you arrive, don't just gaze at the baby like a moonstruck calf, put some washing on and hang it out for them, pack the diswasher, mop/vacuum the floor and take all the trash out - even if they say no. And finally, don't stay too long, two hours is great.

If you do that, they will love you with the fiery heat of a thousand suns. I speak from experience.
posted by smoke at 2:45 PM on January 28, 2012 [5 favorites]

I'm a little put off by the answers saying you've done anything wrong here or that you should apologize. Even your parents and your brother say it's fine to come next week, so it doesn't seem like you're violating any norms or expectations except those that exist in your mind.

Please relax. If you show up guilt-ridden, you'll be hindered from doing all that uber-helpful stuff that smoke advises. Bring food. Clean stuff. Give the new parents time to themselves. Help out. Hold the baby and say stuff about how cute he is. Unless they're abnormally concerned with appearances and marking down social debts--and it doesn't sound like they are--that's all you need to do to be present and helpful.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 4:00 PM on January 28, 2012

You're female? Oh yeah, you should have immediately raced to the scene of the birth at exorbitant expense because IT IS A BABY OMG and if you are female and not conditioned to leap and squeal at such things you are apparently a threat to the entire human race or something.

Yeah, no, that's not even tongue-in-cheek, I cannot tell you how many times I have encountered this attitude. So yes, you are completely abnormal. BUT TOTALLY NOT WRONG.

Some thoughts for you to consider:

1) Giving birth? Kinda sucks. There's blood and poop and PAIN, and quite likely incisions, and there's this new squalling noise in your ear CONSTANTLY, and this is EXACTLY when you're just dying to be surrounded by friends and family and acquaintances, right? seeing you at your most tired and probably least attractive?

2) New babies? Pretty much all the same. No, they don't have "your blah-blah's eyes"; they're little lumps of clay at that point, just trying to adapt to the OMG WTF WHERE DID THE WOMB GOOOOO. It takes a little while before things get to the point of oh, what's that? ooh, it moves! who's that? It's Mama! where you can watch them discover the world around 'em, see their personalities beginning to emerge. More to the point, NewBaby is not even close to the point of conceptualizing you as a person - which is when your presence matters. Right now, you are biologically related to an infant... when that child can look at you and recognize you? THAT is when you become an aunt. That is when your presence or absence will matter to the kid.

If you're worried that your brother and SIL are hurt or offended by your absence, you need to talk it out with them. But there is nothing intrinsically wrong with it.
posted by mie at 6:06 PM on January 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

This kind of situation depends on what kind of parents you are dealing with. Some immediately become obsessed with their babies, the world revolves around their babies, and those people are the ones who would become totally offended by this situation. But since neither your brother nor your SIL have gone ballistic on you by now, I think you may be dealing with sane people and you're in the clear for that kind of reaction. Huzzah! Also, as other people pointed out, if you have to take a plane to see the baby, you get a lot more leeway than those who live in the same town.

You're not abnormal-- you're not like, a closet sociopath-- but yeah, you're not typical. I have to agree with mie that it seems like 95% of women coo insanely over babies, say their uterus is crying when they see one, crap like that. But some of us--including several of us in this thread, like myself-- pretty much can't tell one baby apart from another and don't find them terribly interesting until they can talk and take themselves to the toilet. I do feel like there is some kind of Social Obligation if you own a vagina to have to coo over them periodically whether you are "feeling it" or not so as not to offend the majority, though. So while it's relatively okay to not feel super excited about an infant, I'd ah...try to drum up more enthusiasm than you might be feeling while you're on the premises, just in case.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:01 PM on January 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I didn't meet my niece OR my nephew until they were each 4 months old. My brother's family got a lot of relatives descending immediately, but I was in the same boat as you -- not enough time or money right away -- and had to wait. But my brother wasn't bothered by it - in fact, not having to entertain yet another person was a good thing -- and it was all good. (And my nephew is one of those give-everyone-a-huge-toothless-smile-the-first-time-he-sees-'em babies, so I'm assuming he was cool with it too.)

You're fine.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:27 PM on January 28, 2012

As someone who is also the parent of a three month old I want to say smoke has some great advice.

You should also consider your brother was right when he says next week is perfect. We live a long, long way from all of our relatives, so we didn't get a lot of visitors early on, but something I've heard from other parents is they faced an early rush, when they were least able to deal with in and by the time six weeks or so rolls around and you start to feel like you want visitors everybody hasd stopped coming. We are starting to hear again from friends, at the three month mark, who we haven't seen since the birth and frankly their timing is great: the baby is smiley, interactive and a lot more settled and we've got things much more nailed down.
posted by tallus at 11:48 PM on January 28, 2012

I too prefer young children to babies, and my niece was three when I met her. I was also a poor student and living an expensive flight away when she was born, so I think people gave me a little more leeway than they otherwise might have, but I started getting comments at about the six month mark ("You'll miss her whole babyhood!") My sister and brother-in-law didn't really care, they had various things going on that would have made visiting difficult anyway, but the grandparents are still a little sore about it.

At five weeks, you're fine and I doubt anyone will think anything of it, but you should try to go sooner rather than later.
posted by lwb at 12:11 AM on January 29, 2012

I think my daughter was 2 the first time my brother met her. We are abnormal, though. If he were to meet someone, fall in love and make a baby, I imagine I might like to see it while it was still in diapers, but I wouldn't rush out and buy a plane ticket the next day or anything. I guess I'd meet the baby, and this made-up woman I'm imagining, at whatever the next family gathering was going to be. Probably a Christmas, because we live on opposite sides of the continent, but even that, it's been three years since we had a Christmas together.

I don't know, maybe my friends are unusually cold, but I can't think of anyone I know getting on a plane specifically to see an infant niece or nephew in the first month of life. It would have been even more unimaginable while we were students. I didn't even fly across the country for my grandparents' funerals. That shit costs money!

When I read the first sentence of your post, I assumed you lived across town. Not getting on a crosstown bus to visit your nephew for five weeks, that I might raise my eyebrow at. Something that involves plane/train travel and a several night stay? I think you're totally fine.

Re: babies, meh. Even my own kid wasn't really interesting to me until she started talking. Oh, sure I loved her, etc. etc. but babies don't thrill me particularly. Toddlers, on the other hand, can't get enough.
posted by looli at 12:34 AM on January 29, 2012

Most of my friends with newborns don't surface with them until a few months have passed, and conversely we tend to leave them alone during that time unless explicitly invited, because newborns consume all your attention for a little while.

You seem to feel bad because you can, in fact, wait to see your nephew. I don't know why you'd feel bad about that. Some of my women friends go nuts over babies. Some of them couldn't give a shit and don't even want to hear about people before they have a driver's license. My men friends also span this spectrum. All of those people are equally normal, sensible, caring people.

You're talking to your brother, you do want to go and visit him to offer him support, you're trying to find a opportunity to do so, you're keeping him apprised of the scenario as it unfolds, and thus far all anyone has said to you is, "it's not a big deal, come when you can." You're not cold or unfeeling or discovering some unknown alienation you from the human experience. You're fine.
posted by Errant at 1:43 PM on January 30, 2012

The secret to newborns is that they are monumentally boring. I like babies, love my brother and his family, but certainly wasn't going to take days off of work, fly multiple hours, and expose them to all sorts of airport-generated germs in order to see something that wouldn't even know I was in the room. And it's not like I would have even been able to do anything useful for them, since I wouldn't have even had a car. So I didn't go to meet my nephew until he was 6 months? 8 months? old. Probably I would have waited till Christmas if he hadn't been born in January. I asked for pictures all the time and cooed over his cuteness from a distance, but spend $600 to go stress my sis-in-law out by visiting? No way. If I'd lived in the same town I would have visited immediately, but that would have been because I would have been able to help out, not because the baby itself would have been that exciting.
posted by MsMolly at 3:55 PM on January 30, 2012

-Is not being thrilled by the birth of a baby abnormal?

You've been given some very good advice here already, and I am a little late to the party, but I wanted to reply too because before my niece was born I wrote this post about how bad I felt about not being excited by the imminent birth of my brother's baby. I went to visit her the weekend after she was born and dear Lord was she dull. I was politely interested (and I brought her a cuddly sheep), but I didn't coo, I didn't go on about how gorgeous she was, I didn't even hold her. I too worried this would affect my relationship with my brother, but I just couldn't bring myself to pretend to be as excited about her as I felt I should be.

It was her birthday on Tuesday and not only do I absolutely love spending time with my little niece, but my brother and I are closer than ever. He arranges any outing involving animals around me because he insists I go too, the silly presents I get her have pride of place in their house, and we talk to each other far more than we did before she was born. And I hadn't expected this at all, but Christmas was even more fun with her around this year - she really has brought something special to our family. (Remember this is coming from someone who generally attempts to leave the room as quickly but surreptitiously as possible when people bring their babies into work.)

Don't worry about your relationship with your brother. And don't worry if you don't find your nephew particularly compelling for a good six months or so. Find your own way to have a relationship with him. It will all work out, however uninterested you are at the moment!
posted by raspberry-ripple at 11:45 AM on February 2, 2012

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