I’m beginning to suspect La Serpiente Aquatica Negra is clairvoyant. At about 4 this morning, she woke up and started calling for her mother and her father. I tried to sleep; my wife got up, went into her bedroom to console her, and then her waters broke. So, rather than going into hospital on Canada Day for an elective c-section as we’d planned, we had to spend the early morning in a state of disorganisation, trying to figure out what to do with our first child and how to get to the hospital. Rather like the first time around, but with an extra toddler in the mix. The three of us got a taxi to the hospital, and all the way there La Serpiente was in fine spirits, laughing at her toy puppy, and shouting “boobies” frequently.
La Serpiente Aquatica Negra got dropped off, along with a suitcase of soft toys and a bag of her favourite foods, with one of our friends, and my wife staggered into the hospital and then got lost, so I spent a few worried minutes rushing around trying to find her before discovering she was already in a delivery room. Then we had a few fraught hours where there was a lot of pushing going on, but just as with our firstborn, there wasn’t enough downwards motion. Perhaps my family has a tendency to sharp, membrane-piercing heads that just don’t want to travel down a birth canal.
But I’m not here to debate anatomy. I got rushed out of the delivery room at a few minutes before 11, and at 11:16 our second daughter was brought into the world, and shortly after presented to me. Like La Serpiente, she came out with dark hair (lots more of it than her sister) but because she hadn’t had to go through 24 hours of shoving, she didn’t have a pointy head, and both of her eyes were open. She squeaked and made the usual alien noises for about twenty minutes, and then she went away for observation for a while and I hunkered down in the room we had booked, to try to rest and wait for my wife to reappear.
Our second child is a bit heavier than the first was when she came out: we now have a seven pound infant on our hands. She cries a bit but again, newborns aren’t that loud. That’s not to dismiss the volume they can produce; she’s still fairly good at complaining. I, as usual, feel like a bit of a spare part at some points, and had to make myself useful by going out and eating sandwiches. What a proper father I am. Newborns don’t really do much (just as you don’t want an exciting childbirth, you don’t really want an exciting newborn); they sleep, they eat, they excrete. There is something magical about what they turn into though.
About five, I went to retrieve my first daughter and introduce her to her sister. She’d been awake since 4 this morning, with a two hour nap at lunchtime, and hadn’t remembered to eat anything (her day had been fairly disrupted, I guess) so she cried all the way from the Botanic Gardens to the hospital. She was fairly happy to meet our new (as yet unnamed) child but that may also be because I was bribing her with promises of rice puffs later on. I took her downstairs through a maze of corridors (there’s no lift in Thomson Medical Centre that gets you all the way to the ground floor from the 6th – you always have to negotiate steps somewhere), bought her rice puffs, then realised I needed to get her medical insurance card so I can take her to the doctor tomorrow for her cough. So back up through the maze, then downstairs again, and then halfway through calling a taxi I realised I’d left my doorkeys back in the room with my wife, so back up again and back down again, and by now La Serpiente was loosing patience, and howled all the way home. Towards the end (about 6:30) she began to cry the word ‘napping’ again and again, which is a sure sign she’s overtired, but her spirits lifted when we got home and found Toffee Puppy stuck in the gate of our apartment. Clearly our friend had discovered the one essential toy La Serpiente can’t sleep with, left at her house, and brought it over to us so I could get her to sleep tonight.
But La Serpiente didn’t realise this, she just thought her dad was the greatest father ever for securing Toffee Puppy. So dinner was fairly easy, and bathing not too problematic. I put her to bed and she was already trying to sleep on the floor before I got her in her cot; a few run throughs of “When I’m Bigger” and she went down without any complaint. All that was left was for me to eat sausages and have a celebratory beer.
It’s odd having a second child. I don’t feel particularly prepared for it (although I doubt one extra day would have made all the difference.) I suppose I should have some confidence about what I’m doing, as we’ve survived two years with the first one without major mishap. Most of the dangerous things in thh house have been baby proofed, I can be relied upon to change a nappy and bath a child, we have all the clothes we could possibly need for a small girl in the tropics, etc… Then again, we didn’t have it competing for attention with any siblings before – that will be interesting to deal with. I feel a little lonely at home, rather than being able to stay with my new daughter 24-7, but on the other hand that does mean I can sleep in my own bed and drink beer as and when I want to . Some pluses, some minuses.