My little sister M.E. is expecting a baby. Her due date is July 20. She’s 4 and a half years (and 4 days and 30 minutes) younger than me. She hasn’t had a baby before.

I’ve never been an aunt before.

When my mom was pregnant with M.E., I called my mom’s belly my belly. When the two of us lived with my dad for 6 months while he was working in North Carolina and my mom was finishing her undergrad at Florida State University, a lot of M.E.’s care became my responsibility by default. When our dad stayed in NC and the two of us returned to Florida to be with my mom while she did her Master’s coursework, I was still heavily contributing to M.E.’s care. During those years I was 8 and 9. She was 3, 4, and 5.

If she has her baby on her due date, I will be 43 and she will be 38. She is very grown.

I asked W. to help me remember that being a big sister and an aunt does not mean being a volunteer postpartum doula. I don’t trust that I won’t sacrifice my own health and my time with my own child in order to show up for her and her baby.

Postpartum time is one of the most isolating times of life and I forget that when she is postpartum, I won’t also be immediately postpartum. (Because once you’re postpartum at all you are always postpartum, but being immediately postpartum is different.) I have ingrained anxiety that I will have to relive that time alongside her.

The first few months postpartum were one of the most isolating times of my life and I don’t think I can take that away from her. Even if it were possible, I think it would be detrimental to my health to do so.

I hate this distrust I have of myself, of my ability to hold boundaries. I hate that I feel like holding my boundaries will mean hurting her.

It would be good for me to remember that I am not remotely the only person in her life who can show up for her. It would be good to remember that while I kind of was when we were kids, except for the things our parents did for her, I’m not now.