So here's how it happens:
You're in your own, toddlerfied world, having a little picnic banquet on white plastic chairs at a white plastic table after morning swimming, when your mobile 'phone rings and you don't answer it because along with all the other little things that niggle you about your ageing, post-birth body you're sure your hearing's going so you only hear it on the last ring; but after you've wiped the Noddy yoghurt from your own and toddler's fingers, propped a book in front of said small one to buy a few moment's grace and found said mobile at bottom of nasty mess in out-of-date handbag, you find that the call is from your brother, who is at home.
Brother 'phoning from home in middle of the day can mean only one thing. I punch the buttons with mounting trepidation and yes, I'm right, and there it is - that's how it happens - life's map has changed. Forever.
I have become an aunt. I'll say that again. I am an Aunt. Note how it's capitalized now, giving my new-found title a little more status. I am Aunt Livvy. Hmm, not sure about that. Aunty Livvy? Auntie Liv? Whatever he likes! The momentous has happened, and Baby Cousin has been born. At 8.13pm last night, to be precise, although his existence became known to me only today, at 11.48am, according to my mobile, when I returned my brother's call. The details are banal and comforting in the face of so miraculous a thing as a birth.
I trip through the rest of the day, with this marvellous knowledge shining inside me. Anna-mouse gets away with murder (and chocolate - a word and a thing I have managed to keep from her for all of her two-and-a-quarter years, despite my own deep association with it). Little seems to matter as my mind does the vital job of updating my life map with Baby Cousin included. It's important, I've read, to take time to do this essential re-jigging of the landscape for oneself at each major life junction. It's an interesting process. I think it helps you to stay present and encompass the subtle changes in relationship that a birth (or a death) inevitably brings.
Eventually, of course, we say 'I can't imagine life without 'x' but for now, while the re-jigging is doing its thing, it's the most wondrous feeling. I keep remembering - Baby Cousin is here! I'm Aunt to Baby Cousin! - and savour feeling curiously dizzy and light-hearted to find myself on such new, welcome, unfamiliar terrain.