Togetherness

Our little Bettina is growing up. Now that she’s bottom-shuffling and learning to express herself, she has become Cesca’s perfect buddy in crime. From the day Bettina was born, Cesca was constantly asking me when her little sister would start playing with her. It seems those days are here for now when together, they are inseparable. Their favourite way of playing is very messy and involves all the toys they have, but they spend hours together, playing, fighting (mainly B pulls C’s hair when the latter takes her toys) and giggling. Oh the giggling, how I love hearing them laugh together! Bettina is constantly following Cesca with her eyes, and I swear she gives her big sister a unique look of total love which neither me nor Anthony get. And Cesca (known to us, her parents, as our full-blown diva with the sky-high self-esteem and total love of self), has found her perfect role as a big sister. Bettina is the perfect audience. She claps when Cesca calls her, she claps when Cesca sings, and she claps when Cesca gives her toys. I’ve said it before and I will repeat it now – from the moment we found out we were having another girl, this is what we wanted and wished for. This camaraderie they seem to have, this hidden bond which ties them together. Bettina was a godsend to Cesca. And Bettina is lucky in a way that Cesca wasn’t. Bettina has a full-time entertainer, talker, performer – Cesca only had me as that. And my eldest daughter is a million times better a performer than I ever will be.

They are spending more time together now than in winter, and although tiring (and draining in this awful heat), they are a laugh. Their characters seem to be different. My friends all agree on the First Child Syndrome – the first child is the one who is unarguably spoilt, has a great sense of self-worth, struggles a bit when s/he learns that the world does not revolve around him/her alone and is somewhat a bit bossy. Cesca is all that. She loves an audience, insists on being called a queen, and I’m pretty sure she will start referring to herself in the third person pretty soon. But is so much more. Her sensitivity surprises me and the love she gives is a joy. She surprised me most with Bettina – she fully accepted her without an ounce of jealousy, and every sentence starts with “Me and Bettina…” Unfortunately third parties are sometimes rudely excluded. To their face. With a pointed finger ordering them to go away.

The Second Child Syndrome mainly involves the child being somewhat more of a fighter. S/he fights to find his/her own place in the world. S/he never knows the full and total attention of the parents as the First Child did, and this is due to obvious reasons. But the Second Child is observant, more knowledgeable about what is going on around him/her and although may appear quieter and calmer than the First Child, when need be, s/he will make his/her voice heard. Bettina is more ‘gathered’ than Cesca. She has an air of tranquility around her which makes everyone who meets her remark on her jolly nature. In these nine and a half months she’s been in our lives, the only times I have known her to get upset is when she’s hungry and when it’s time to take her out of the bath. Otherwise it’s mostly she smiles, I smile.

Together they click. And how!

Christmas in July.

Christmas in July.

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This is basically the sum of my lives together with these girls :)

This is basically the sum of my life together with these girls 🙂

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Beginnings

We welcomed a new member into our family on the 30th of September. Bettina Lucia was born at 7.50 in the evening, all pink and cuddly and full of that scrumptiousness that newborns seem to have. Just like her sister, she came quick and fast. Actually she came much quicker than her sister, and I’m lucky that A made it to my side with just a couple of minutes to spare before her arrival!

That Tuesday was one of those days where I had a million and one things to do. The day began like any other day. We all woke up, my mother picked C up and I left for work. Since the Friday before we had received some last-minute school news, I had to pop by a school for a meeting after work, and had stationery and shoe-shopping planned for the afternoon. At four I left home to start my errands, and by five I only had C’s shoes left on my list. I agreed to meet up with C and mum at a local shopping centre at 5.30pm, so after pencil and file shopping, I left to walk my way there.

Every pregnant woman imagines what her labour will be like. Will it be short and swift or dragging and painful? And perhaps with a second pregnancy, it is less and more scary at the same time. I knew what was going to happen yet a part of me clanged to the hope that it would all be as fast as C’s birth was. At the same time I knew that this was not necessarily the case. I know of friends whose second labour was nothing like their first. Thoughts of 12+ hours of labour would flash in my mind, and I’d enter into a mini-panic zone. What kept me sane was the thought that God would not give me more than what I could actually handle.

I now laugh at the following part. You can however imagine my embarrassment, panic and shock at having my waters break in a public place. In a shop in a local shopping mall, which is always full of locals. Perhaps it was sheer luck that the shop happened to be nearly empty at the time, and the only witness to my ordeal was the panic-stricken shop assistant who was in a worse state than me and continued asking me whether she should call an ambulance or not. I was in no pain whatsoever and my thoughts were all over the place. Cesca was running around the store totally unaware of her mother’s crazy state. My mum who was waiting for me outside came to ask me why I hadn’t come out yet, and only realised what happened when she saw my face. I was thinking how we were going to get C’s shoes, whether my dress held any evidence of what had just happened, how I had to call A asap and how I still had to label and mark Cesca’s newly-purchased school items. And most of all how I would probably miss C’s first day at school the following day.

The walk to mum’s car seemed like an eternity. I waited there while she took C to buy her shoes. We went home, I had a quick shower, grabbed my things, headed to the hospital and then the pains started. I was super-dilated (8cm by the time the midwife checked me), and by 7pm was ready to start pushing. But I held back, waiting for 7.30pm because I wanted A by my side. Things happened so quick that Bettina was born twenty minutes after he arrived. Two hours after everything started. Talk about fast and furious.

We are now slowly settling in. Life with two children is so different than life with one. There is always someone to check on and always something to do. I am so so lucky to have help from my mother and in-laws. I honestly don’t know how I can do it all alone, and have so much gratitude towards them. I am pleased to report that Cesca is totally besotted with Bettina. From the moment she first came to visit her at the hospital, calling out for ‘my sister’, she has been a real trooper. She helps me with the nappy-changing, sings to her and ‘plays’ with her – though I am super-vigilant with the latter. However as expected, she is playing up at times. She had a tough couple of days dealing with all these changes, and at times blatantly challenges me and her father and does the exact opposite of what we tell her to do. Sometimes she ignores us completely, and thanks to school now comes out with these phrases she never said before. Right now her favourite is calling people ‘silly-Billy’. I bite my tongue and try to be the most patient I can be with her. But exhaustion and impatience do get the best of me at times, and after I sometimes shout at her, the guilt feeling sets in. The guilt feeling every mother seems to be burdened with, even though she tries her best and is always looking out for her own. Whatever I do at times, however I deal with her, I always end up feeling as if I’m lacking her and as if I could do better. I know it’s early days still, and I really can’t complain overall. I just want to be sure and certain that I’m doing the right thing, and, most importantly, that she knows it too.

So we’re all taking it in small steps and one day at a time. We have alone moments with Cesca. We take her to the playground, we read books to her and we dedicate moments to her alone. I don’t want her to feel as if she’s the ‘extra one’, the odd one out, not ever. It is harder than it sounds, especially since a newborn takes up so much of my time. All mummies know how time-consuming babies are, it’s all about them and you spend every minute they’re awake, with them. So it only figures that having a newborn and trying to spend equal if not more time with a young toddler is quite challenging.

But I’m looking at it all positively. We will manage just fine. It’s all about surviving these early days with a positive outlook, and living peacefully with the knowledge that you did your best with love and more love. And believing with hope that those around you, who are closest to your heart, recognise this.

A favourite shot captured by Auntie Ver. Running to meet her little sister :)

A favourite shot captured by Auntie Ver. Running to meet her little sister 🙂