Victoria Springer was enjoying a beautiful evening with her friend Cecilia Butterglove. Sitting outside their respective homes and sipping tea, they nattered on; sharing recipes, moaning about ironing and discussing Victoria's pregnancy cravings.
|"Rice cakes. All day long, rice cakes!"|
Despite the baby's due date having already passed, Victoria was unconcerned. "Sydney was almost two weeks late, you see," she justified herself. "I'm pretty certain this little one won't be rushing either."
If ever there was a moment to speak too soon, this was it. Not five minutes later had Mrs Springer given out a small squeal of horror and surprise.
|"My water's broke!"|
"Darwin!" yelled Cecilia. "Come quick!" The door of Babblebrook Grange was flung open, and Darwin leapt into the precipice, equally astounded. Panicking, he stood motionless, until Cecilia had the sense to bark some life into him.
"Phone the paramedic, Darwin!" she delegated impatiently, then turned back to her flustered friend.
"Right," Darwin mumbled, returning to his senses. He scrambled back inside and hastily called the number.
|"Hello? My wife's gone into labour! Yes, it's Darwin speaking.|
Babblebrook Grange, on the Meadow, please. Come quick!"
Sydney came downstairs, her homework interrupted by all the commotion.
"What's going on?" she asked her father. His face said it all. "Today? I'd better get my coat and shoes on."
"You can't come, Syd," Darwin replied immediately. His daughter pouted her bottom lip. "We could be there for hours. No, you'll have to stay with Beverley and Cecilia tonight."
Sydney made to argue, but Darwin had already rushed out to attend to his wife. Making up her mind, she dashed back upstairs and grabbed her shoes from under the bed. Her homework could wait!
Thomas Nightingale, the paramedic, arrived as soon as he could. With no ambulance service in Glen Fallow, he would have to make do with a wheelchair and some speedy footwork!
Victoria thanked her old friend for being so collected in the unexpected situation, and told her not to wait up. Cecilia bid her good luck and gave her one last squeeze of the hand before she was wheeled away with spectacular haste. Boy, that Thomas could run!
Darwin struggled to keep up, but fortunately the hospital wasn't too far. Just as they were approaching the door he felt a shadow trailing behind him.
Darwin was too ruffled by the urgency of the occasion to be angry. Instead he carried on behind his wife, now moaning as the labour pangs began.
|"We're all ready for you, Mrs Springer, don't worry."|
Victoria was whizzed through the waiting room with Darwin close behind. Sydney tried to follow but was stopped by Imogen Hawthorn, the receptionist. "You just sit in here, my love," she said kindly - but sternly. Sydney knew better than to argue. She sat down on the bench, fidgeting with impatience. Soon she would have a new baby brother or sister!
Then she remembered; Cecilia would be expecting her!
"Mrs Hawthorn, could you please phone my mother's friend, Cecilia Butterglove?"
|"I was supposed to stay at her's while mum and dad were here.|
She'll be wondering where I am."
"Of course," Imogen replied. "Now you just settle down with a nice magazine. It could be a long wait. If you get sleepy, just tell me and I will find you a bed."
* * *
Meanwhile, Dr Murdoch Petite and Nurse Emily Winters were overseeing the birth. Rupert was at Victoria's side, encouraging her as she groaned.
|Sydney, oblivious. Dr Murdoch with the forceps...|
"You're doing so well," Emily said, "Keep pushing, and breathe steadily."
Darwin held on to his wife's hand, barely flinching as she squeezed his to smithereens every time she contracted her muscles.
|"The baby is crowning. You're almost there."|
"You can do this," Darwin whispered to his beloved wife.
|"You're so close. I love you."|
Victoria pushed with every last inch of strength in her body, letting out a majestic grunt, and then...
|"You have a beautiful baby girl!"|
And Dr Murdoch didn't even need the forceps.
Helped by Darwin, Victoria sat up and smiled radiantly. Her new baby howled and Victoria gave thanks for this gorgeous living, breathing, person that was now joining her family. She took the baby in her arms and cradled her, as Darwin rushed through to the waiting room to call the girl who was now his oldest child.
|"Come and see your baby sister, my darling."|
Sydney saw this tiny little baby and felt herself brimming with love. Her sister! She knew in that moment that, whatever happened, she was going to protect this sweet little girl with all her heart.
* * *
When Dr Murdoch finally declared it safe for them to return home, they sorted out the wheelchair and all the staff at the Glen Fallow hospital bid them goodbye.
"She's such a cute little thing," Imogen smiled, cooing.
"Not feeling broody now, are we?" Dr Murdoch laughed, and everyone chuckled along but Sydney, who was far too busy adoring her little sister to bother wondering what he meant.
|"Bye! Safe journey home."|
"Call me tomorrow, Mrs Springer. I'll book a check up next week."
"Do I have to go to school tomorrow?" she yawned, trailing her feet. Darwin roared with laughter.
"I told you not to come! And besides, school isn't tomorrow, it's today."
Sydney's eyes widened with horror.
"Your father's teasing, Sydney. Of course we won't make you go to school. I think we're all to tired to do anything today, even Addie."
"Yes, your new sister, Adelaide."
When they reached the Meadow, their eyelids slipping with exhaustion, they were astounded to see two faces greeting them.
|"You stayed up? You shouldn't have!"|
"We couldn't wait to see the new Springer."
Cecilia and Beverley took a quick peek at Adelaide, congratulated the family and then retired to bed. The Springer's followed suit, climbing upstairs straightaway to their beds. Sydney, however, stayed in the kitchen, setting a tray for tea and biscuits. Decaff tea, of course. Nobody was keen to stay awake.
She brought it upstairs and presented it to her grateful mum, who was already tucked up in bed with little Addie.
Darwin smiled at his family, swelling with pride for his wife and eldest daughter, and feeling the new chapter in their life starting to begin.