It was also significant that I met my toddler nephew for the first time. I was anxious, staring at him wondering when I could touch him without me shattering. My SIL was sweet yet aware, so she didn't push him toward me. We did it in small steps, such as me sitting next to him, then me touching his hands- you get the idea. Gradually, it was pretty much as walking into the cool water, getting body adjusted to the temperature, you know? In time, I was able to hold him but not long. He isn't the type to cuddle, and at this time, I'm all right with that. It was humble to find that I already love him at sight, and I do look forward to see him again. SIL and I are talking about doing that again in a few months.
I was pleasantly surprised about numerous relatives being supportive, not pushing for me to socialize with children until I was ready. After a few hours, I was able to talk with some cousins' children, especially one pretty much a clone of me- a book-lover, geek, liking math and science. Imagine a 11 years old girl and a woman in her 40's chatting about graphic novels and pre-teen books (such as Harry Potter- we both found we absolutely LOVE Hermione Granger!) One relative even brought up adoption fundraising- I was touched that she has some awareness how this option can be challenging in terms of finances. I admitted to her that I have been thinking about that.
In all, the family visit was much better than I expected when it came to my emotions. I didn't break down. I didn't cry. I didn't hide in the bathroom (well, I did hide in public in a way.) I didn't avoid the pregnant relatives.
That's a good step, in my opinion.
It was two days later, when it was time for me to fly home. The flight was in the afternoon, so I stopped by to see my other grandma (with dementia) in the morning. I wanted to grab some more time with her, she was becoming very fragile. It was when I was about to hug her, when she patted my stomach and said "you're pregnant?"
A crack in the shield. That moment, I knew I was going to lose it. I tightened up my shields and smiled, while telling her no I wasn't, that I was plump. Then the aunt wanted to stop by a store to get something, on way to the airport, so I went along with her.
When I realized where she was going, I was thinking, "you're kidding me or what?" Nope, she was going to the baby section, the least place I needed to go, especially now. I called out I was going to the restroom, instead. I waited for her outside.
So, when the layover was in Chicago, there was two hours before the flight back into town. I gave myself something I deserved for not losing it all, like crying on the floor.
Got an Upside-down pineapple drink, finding a corner to myself, and started reading my new book, "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that can't stop talking."