This is my second daughter

This is my second daughter

I caught this one. I literally caught her as she was being born.

My wife and I chose to have home births, and everything went (relatively) smoothly with the first and third kids. There were some complications with No. 2, however, so we went to the hospital so my wife could be induced.

Once there, one thing led to another, my wife ended up on all fours in the hospital bathroom, the OB couldn’t quite get to her in time (I’m really rushing through this story), and I was the nearest person to the action. When I, well, looked underneath to see how things were going, I saw the top of a baby. I stuck out my hand, and this little girl dropped headfirst into my palm.

I promptly scooped her up to my chest, accidentally snapping her umbilical cord and sending blood fountaining everywhere. The OB had made it into the room by then and calmly clamped what needed clamping, checked what needed checking, and calmed down what needed calming down.

She’s had a relatively less chaotic life since then (my daughter, I mean; I have no idea how the OB has fared). As the second kid, she looks up to her big sister, for good and for ill. She’s the cuddliest of the three, and (don’t tell her siblings I said this), she has the best comedic timing.

Her: I’m hungry.
Me: …
Her: Actually, I’m thirsty.
Me: …
Her: Actually, I have to go potty.

She’s as stubborn as her older sister, but in a different way, which feels unfair to me. Until I had two kids, I didn’t know there were different kinds of stubbornness.

The biggest lesson she’s taught me is that a second child isn’t a repeat of the first child, which—sure—sounds obvious, but I’m amazed at how long it took me to figure it out. I love her distinct personality, her subtle zaniness, and her hugs. She’s a peacemaker, which I admire, but that quality also makes me worry, because I want so desperately for her to stand up for herself and make her own voice heard in a world/society/school/family full of voices trying to talk louder than she can—or will.

I’m apparently worse at drawing dimples than I am at hands, but I can’t draw ripples on the sides of her face, thus those little dents in my illustration.

Finally, some questions (and I ask for no reason, no reason at all): Fellow second children, did your parents take fewer pictures and videos of you than they did of your older sibling? And how messed up are you because of that?


5 thoughts on “This is my second daughter

  1. Gabrielle

    yes, way less pictures. the excuse “oh, the camera was broken,” only goes so far. it has definitely influenced my picture-taking life. i also blame most of my problems on being the second.

  2. Carleen Butterfield

    Second daughter reminds me so much of my mother–her great grandmother. There may have been some early “soul” transfer. They are both great observers and know just what to do and say when necessary. Not a lot of drama. Gentle wisdom and kindness. They have purposeful filtering of the world around them. There is something so special when they pay attention to you and observe you kindly with big, gentle brown eyes. Just watch!

  3. Ask Josh: he’s a middle/2nd child, also. Very few pictures exist from his childhood, yet he doesn’t seem to care much. I’m guessing, the not caring much about pictures, is also a product of being a middle child! He’s also definitely a peacemaker.

  4. Uhm, there are fewer of me than my older sis, but even fewer of our younger brother…Dad explains it as an inevitable result of his shift from pro photographer to pro desk jockey in order to support a family. But even as a hobbyist photographer, there are more than enough pictures of our childhood (much more than most kids of my generation); so, I don’t feel messed up from a few dozen pictures less than my older sibling.

  5. Elsa

    I never missed not having as many pictures; it goes with the territory. I love to blame my foibles on being the second and middle child, but really I love it. I love that I’m the peacemaker. I love that I get to be a voice of sanity and compromise rather than the voice of “I think this way and all of you must hear me!!” I love that all my friends and siblings get along just that much better because I am a buffer. And I love that my friends and siblings occasionally slow down enough to ask me what I really think, so that I don’t always have to referee or seek peace or negotiate or hide my own thoughts for the sake of the group good.

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