Or actually, the slow, downward spiral that will result in a crash. A crash that will hopefully come in the comfort of my own home, with no company and witnesses of the ugly mess.
Because my precious little baby is back in the hospital, and I have to wait until morning to find out if she's still okay.
Because I will have to wait days and days to snuggle her up and kiss her and love on her and smell that little baby smell. Assuming she's okay.
Because I am once again an "only"....
"Only" the aunt. People who don't know our history do not understand there is so much more. Aunt NotTheMama is so much more than "only," the big brother wants her to look like me because I'm the funnest aunt. I may not BE Mama, but I am able to step in with a large number of children, and be substitute Mama when the "real" thing can't be there. With almost equal parts spoiling, loving, and discipline - Aunt NotTheMama is fun and bends the rules to some varying extent as long as safety is not compromised, but you still have to behave and eat your veggies and have manners.
Strangers do not even begin to know that Aunt NotTheMama can be counted on to be Mama at any time, with little to no notice, with sick kids, in the middle of the night, get them to have fun in the midst of tragedies, etc etc etc.
So "just" the aunt doesn't get to go in the nicu. And it's just hospital policy. And I'll just have to look at her through the window. And just wait until she comes home. And just take another slap in the face, another stab in the heart, because while family sees me as special, to the rest of the world, I am still "just" and "only" the aunt.