Sunday, 10 July 2016

Baby 2: I take it all back

As Audrey wakes for the fourth time that night, I realise how wrong I'd been about everything. Mum had warned me so, so many times that parenting is one of the hardest things to do in life and I (foolishly) hadn't believed her. I yawn as I cross the hallway into the nursery.
 Audrey is, of course, still in her crib and crying her eyes out. I lift her up and hold her close to me. "Hey baby girl. Hey, hey," I say quietly. "What's wrong, eh?"
Being a baby I'm not surprised that she doesn't reply, but when she starts sucking gently on my shoulder I decide she's probably hungry. I walk downstairs with her in my arms, bouncing up and down slightly with every step.
In the kitchen, I prepare a bottle for my firstborn child and try not to glare too hard at the clock. Thankfully, it is Audrey's birthday tomorrow and the days of refusing to sleep through the night will, mostly, be gone. As she drinks her milk, I begin thinking about my plans for the next day. Of course, I'll need to work the garden, and then a trip to the grocery store to sell what I've grown. Since I'm down there, I might stop by the bookstore and say hello to James again.
James and I had decided that, barring his participation in the challenge, we'd step back the relationship and get to know each other better before we really continued anything. I for one think it's a great idea, because I can't count the number of times I'd gotten deep into a relationship with a man for them to simply turn around and leave me as soon as anything challenging arose.

Audrey falls asleep in my arms and I carry her upstairs to bed, for a few hours, hopefully, of sleep. By the time the sun rises, we're both slightly more rested and I carry her to the cake I've set up to age her into toddlerhood. Standing next to an excitable James, who had come despite the early hour and late invitation, I cheer and encourage my daughter."Good luck Audrey!" I say with a grin.
Audrey grows up into a toddler with great success, and ends up with my hair, James' eyes and the rest of his features. I'm slightly peeved that my first child doesn't look like me, but also incredibly glad that she isn't absolutely hideous. Not that I'd reject an ugly child. It's just that pretty ones are... prettier.
I set about the rest of my day with renewed vigour now that I know Audrey will be able to entertain herself slightly more. My garden is really developing, and it takes me slightly longer than I'm happy with to get everything done. Unfortunately, the only gardener available for hire in the town is much more suited to mowing lawns and weeding flowers than taking care of a large scale growing operation like mine. Also they looked at me strangely when I met them, so they were fired faster than you can say 'vegetables'.
Of course, also on my list of things to get done is some more progression in my challenge. When I head downtown to the grocery store I watch everyone who walks past, evaluating them to see whether they'd be good participants. The most likely option I see is one with silvery hair, but I don't know him well enough to just approach him on the street. Still, I make a mental note to find out who he is so that I can ask him to participate some other time. I spend the rest of the day teaching Audrey to walk,
and use the potty. 
Thankfully, she seems to take to these lessons like a duck to water, and I have one less task off my plate for the next few days. The pressing of all these burdens is really starting to get to me, and I'm almost thankful when I get a phone call from mum.
"Hey Peg. How are you doing?"
"Honestly, I'm considering ways to kill myself with baby bottles." I tell her, honestly.
"I told you it was hard. And hey, if you need help, I'm only like five minutes away. Call me if you need me. Anyway, I might have been interfering a little and found you a new father. He's willing to participate if you'll do it the 'science way'."
"Really! Who is it?" I ask. Despite how stressed I am, I want to move on with my challenge as fast as I can.
"His name's Vitus. You probably saw him around town. Silver hair, purple eyes. And he isn't related to us."
"Huh. I guess we have similar taste. I saw him down in town and I was gonna try and find out more about him. Send him my way."
Mum hangs up after telling me that she'll get him to come over ASAP and I head indoors with instructions to try and play more with Audrey. Like I don't play with her enough when I'm chasing her around the house to try and get her dressed. Yeah, I don't think I'm really a natural parent, much as I love kids. Still, I take Mum's advice and actually have a good time pretending to attack Audrey with 'The Claw'. She seems to like it too.

When Vitus arrives the next morning, my thoughts are confirmed. It is indeed the man I had seen yesterday. He smiles at me, then gestures awkwardly. "Shall we get this show on the road?" I nod and follow him down the driveway to my car, driving us both down to the fertility clinic. There, I'm inseminated and am able to continue on my way. Although it's much easier than normal impregnation, I do feel like much of the challenge has gone out of the challenge by doing it like this, especially because Mum actually sent him my way.
Of course, with a new baby on the way and Audrey all skilled up (although she seems more inclined to eat the stick from the xylophone than play on it),
it is prime time for her to have another birthday. With that in mind, I take her to the kitchen and set about aging her up. She grows into a reasonably well-adjusted child, who finds that her attachment to animals makes it impossible for her to actually eat them.

She tends to follow me around as I garden dressed up in 'dungaroos like a farmer, Mummy!' to tell me all about the dangers of eating meat. Fortunately for her, she has a very accommodating mother who is willing to work her way into vegetarian meals for her firstborn child, even when pregnant with her younger siblings.
Thankfully, this doesn't stop her from fitting in reasonably well at school, and she heads off down the valley every morning with a smile on her face.
Unfortunately for me, a happy daughter does not mean a functional house as -- to my dismay-- the toilet breaks on only the second day of my pregnancy. It's tricky for me to get down, and I am in no financial situation to call in a repairman so I'm forced into fixing it despite my difficulties.
It isn't long after that that I find myself heading down into town to register myself as a self-employed gardener. I don't know why I hadn't thought of it earlier, especially because it's one of the few things I do with my time. So one day while Audrey is busy at school, I drive down to fill in the paperwork. On the way out I go into labour and give birth to baby 2, Benjamin Brendan Everard and Baby 3 
, Clara Charlie Everard. 

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