“N&S: Nurturing Love, Ch. 75-76: , 5/11/12 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #182)
Author’s Story Recap from the previous posting: Margaret celebrated her 21st birthday in January 1852 amidst her family. She received cherished thoughtful gifts from them all–pearl drop earrings to match her necklace from John, a beveled glass hand mirror from Fanny and Watson, Mother Thornton made her a lovely crocheted shawl, and her father Mr. Hale gave her the baby book and scrapbook about her life that he and her mother had been keeping for her. It was a lovely birthday. Now all that awaits them is getting through the Winter time and looking forward to the time when their babies will be born.
Author’s Mature Content Note: These chapters deal with childbirth–which can sometimes be frought with complications, especially for 1852.
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 75: Winter turns to Spring and John and Margaret’s Babies Want to Arrive early
Though it is now 1852, pregnancy and childbirth for women are still a major health concern. And with Margaret expecting twins, the concern is doubly so for her. And, though it is not well understood medically yet in 1852, twins tend to come a little early. So, although John and Margaret thought that they might have their babies near their first wedding anniversary on May 18th, the babies have their own time table in mind—three weeks earlier. It is Easter Sunday in late April 1852 and John and Margaret are sitting on a bench in Marlborough Mill’s new park—something else new for all employees to enjoy—as the Mill children look for Easter eggs and prizes for their Easter baskets this morning around 9:00am. Margaret feels a little uncomfortable since she is almost 9 months pregnant with twins and this is her first outing in a long time. But, she did not want to miss today’s Easter Egg Hunt.
John: Ever the solicitous and devoted husband, John asks. “Margaret my dear, is your back still hurting you? Is there anything that would give you comfort?
Margaret: “Yes, it is. I thought that I must have lain on it wrong last night, but the pain seems to come in waves.”
Gretchen: Just then, one of the 10 year old Mill school children having just heard what Margaret said comes up to them and asks. “Oh Mrs. Margaret,” Everyone’s nickname for Margaret—to differentiate her from Mrs. Thornton senior. “… are you sure you’re not getting ready to have your babies? My mother always has back pain when my brothers and sisters are born.”
John: Looking at Margaret with concern—and knowing that Gretchen’s mother is also a midwife and that she works with the doctor, he asks. “Gretchen, will you please go ask your mother to come over here for a minute?” Gretchen nods and goes to fetch her mother.
Margaret: “Oh John, it can’t be the babies yet. It’s too early.” She looks a little fearful.
John: “Well, my dear. Better safe than sorry. And you must admit, your plumpness has far exceeded Fanny’s. So, the babies must be full grown.”
Margaret: Trying to keep the mood light she says smiling. “Well, John Dear, just like Fanny, I’m not too keen on being referred to as being plump.”
Midwife Jenny: Quickly walking over to John and Margaret, she asks. “Mrs. Margaret, Gretchen here said that you were feeling back pains?”
Margaret: “Yes Jenny, but it comes and goes.”
Midwife Jenny: “Mrs. Margaret, may I feel your tummy?” Margaret nods and the midwife does so. Then she directs her comments to John. “Mr. Thornton, Sir, I think we should get Mrs. Margaret home where she can be more comfortable. I think that she might be going into labor after all.”
John: “Of course!” He says standing quickly. “I’ll go get the carriage driver to come over here.” Margaret nods as she winces while experiencing another sharp pain.” I’ll be right back, darling.” John kisses Margaret’s forehead and he dashes off.
Margaret: Once John has left, she worriedly asks the midwife. “Jenny, isn’t this too soon for the babies?”
Midwife Jenny: “Oh Mrs. Margaret, not when you’re having twins. I delivered a full month ahead of time and you see my two big strapping boys over there with the red hair.” Margaret looks over to see the tall boys helping little ones find eggs and she nods.
John: Having run back quickly to Margaret while the carriage is taking the path to them he says. “Margaret Darling the carriage will be here any moment.” Then to the midwife, he asks. “Jenny, will you come with us to the house please while we send for the doctor?”
Midwife Jenny: “Of course, Mr. Thornton, Sir. Now, Mrs. Margaret …” Jenny says helping John get Margaret into the carriage. “… you’re going to be just fine. If having babies was a problem, I wouldn’t have had eight children of my own.” Then she calls her boys over and says to them. “Boys, go fetch the doctor and ask him to come to Mr. and Mrs. Thornton’s home. Tell him that Mrs. Margaret is probably in labor.”
John: “Thank you Jenny. And Gretchen, would you please go to Thornton Manor and have the servants ask my Mother to come to our home? Please tell them that our babies might be coming.”
Gretchen: “Yes, Mr. Thornton, Sir.” Then as she skips away toward the Thornton mansion, Gretchen turns toward Margaret and says. “Best wishes Mrs. Margaret! You’re going to be a wonderful Mummy.”
Margaret: Margaret smiles at the little girl’s kind remark and says. “Thank you, Gretchen.”
To be continued with Chapter 76
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 76: Margaret Gives Birth in her Bedroom
It is now 9:15am on Sunday morning. John, Margaret, and Midwife Jenny take the carriage back to John and Margaret’s home. Then John and Midwife Jenny help Margaret into the house and John carries Margaret upstairs to their bedroom. Thompson, seeing the unexpected commotion asks.
Thompson: “Anything I can do for you sir?” She asks looking up the stairs at them.
Midwife Jenny: The midwife answers authoritatively since they are in her realm of expertise now as she looks down the stairs at Thompson. “Yes, please bring up hot water and a basin for washing our hands and the Mrs.’ womb. We’ll also need clean towels, an old bed sheet—and fresh bedding for later.” Then to John she says. “Mr. Thornton, Sir, I’ll help you get Mrs. Margaret undressed and into her birthing nightgown.” Then to Margaret she says. “Mrs. Margaret, you don’t want your water to break and spoil your pretty dress, now do you?” Margaret shakes her head no.
So, John and Midwife Jenny help Margaret change into her short pink nightgown. Then, John and Midwife Jenny place Margaret sitting on the commode chair in the bathroom for a bit in case her water breaks—and it does, as if on cue.
Margaret: “Jenny, how did you know that my water would break so quickly?” She asks in astonishment.
Midwife Jenny: “Mrs. Margaret, in addition to midwifing at over 100 births, I have had eight children of my own. So, you get to know how and when these things happen. Mr. Thornton, Sir, let’s help Mrs. Margaret back into bed. You’ll be carrying her now.”
John: “Certainly, thank you Jenny.” He says lifting Margaret into his arms.
As they walk back into the bedroom, they see Thompson standing by with warm water in a pitcher, a bowl, and extra towels and bedding. Again, Midwife Jenny takes charge.
Midwife Jenny: “Thompson is it?”
Midwife Jenny: “We’ll need four towels folded in half and layered underneath where Mrs. Margaret will be sitting.” Thompson does that and John helps Margaret sit down on the towels. “Now, we’ll take one of the old bed sheets and tie it around the post at the foot of the bed here so that Mrs. Margaret has something to hold on to when she is pushing.”
Margaret: Moaning in pain. “ Ahh! Ahh! Oh my. What was that? That feels very different.”
Midwife Jenny: “Well, Mrs. Margaret, you might just be having these babies before the doctor gets here.”
John: John looks at Margaret in concern and says with alarm to the Midwife. “But this is happening so fast.”
Midwife Jenny: “Yes, she’s lucky.”
John and Margaret: Unintentionally in unison, they say. “Lucky?”
Midwife Jenny: “Mrs. Margaret, would you rather have twenty minutes of pain or twenty hours of pain?” Jenny says with her eyes wide as she washes her hands with warm water in the basin.
Margaret: “Aah!” Margaret moans in pain, then says without hesitation. “I’ll take the twenty minutes. Though, my back has been hurting all day since I got up.”
Midwife Jenny: “Yes, you’ve probably had ‘soft’ back labor since you woke up. But, now you’re getting closer to having these babies. Mrs. Margaret, I have to check your womb. May I?” Margaret nods and Midwife Jenny pulls back the sheet and lifts up Margaret’s short nightgown, checks Margaret’s womb visually and with her hand, then she says. “Okay, not only has your womb started to expand, but I think that one of the babies’ heads is very close.”
John: Oh my! What should I do? How can I help?´ He asks not knowing if he should stay or go.
Midwife Jenny: “We’ll leave it up to Mrs. Margaret here, but I had my husband with me through each of our babies being born. Not only did he appreciate me more knowing what I went through, but he got to be the first one to hold them when they were born.”
Margaret: “John, if you want to, please stay.”
John: “Of course, Margaret Darling.”
Midwife Jenny: “Okay, birthing the twins is going to get sweaty and messy. So, Mr. Thornton, Sir, I suggest you change into your pajamas right away and we’ll have you sitting behind Mrs. Margaret here to help prop her up and support her as she delivers.”
John nods his head and goes to his dressing room and changes into his pajamas. Though he is the Mill owner and he is technically the Midwife’s boss as one of his mill workers, she is currently in control of making sure that Margaret and their babies are safe. So, John does not question her commands and he does as he is told to do. John returns to their bedroom in his pajamas—shirt and pants–and he slides into bed behind Margaret who lays back against him gratefully.
Margaret: “Thank you John Dearest.” John kisses Margaret’s forehead and he enfolds her in his arms. Then Margaret experiences more sharp pains and pressure. “Oh, my! Oh, my! “
Midwife Jenny: “Here we go.” Midwife Jenny peels back the sheets from Margaret’s abdomen, pushes her nightgown back behind her so she is not sitting on it and getting it wet. Then she brings Margaret’s knees up into a bent position and says to John. “Mr. Thornton, Sir, please support your wife’s back as she leans forward with the next pain.”
John: John kisses Margaret’s cheek and does as he is asked. “You can do this Margaret Darling. I love you so.”
Margaret: “Aah! Oh my!” Margaret writhes in pain and then she feels a whoosh. “What happened?”
Midwife Jenny: She pulls the first baby out, turns it upside down and taps its back side. The little baby girl cries instantly with a loud and hearty yell. “You have a girl.” Midwife Jenny takes a barrette out of her hair douses it in the steaming hot water and then clamps it over the baby’s umbilical cord and cuts the cord. Then, she wipes the baby up a bit, swaddles it in a towel and then she hands Margaret and John their first baby whom they both look at in wonder.
John: “Oh my darling, she’s beautiful.” The baby wails again. “And noisy.” They both laugh, then they each kiss their daughter’s cheek before handing the baby to Thompson to put in the first of two bassinettes near their bed.
Margaret: “Oh, John. We have a little girl!” John kisses Margaret’s forehead and they embrace a moment. Then Margaret starts to feel more pain. “Oh, my! Oh, my! Aaah!”
Midwife Jenny: “That’s right Mrs. Margaret. Push, push.” And Margaret strains for a few more minutes and then, her second child is born. Midwife Jenny, as before holds up the child–a baby boy this time–and taps its bottom. The baby wails and Midwife Jenny cuts his cord, cleans him up a bit, swaddles him and hands her son over to Margaret. “It’s a boy!”
Margaret: “Oh, John Dearest, we have a son, too.”
John: “Oh, My Darling Margaret. This is so wonderful. You’ve been so brave.”
Just then the doctor arrives and Midwife Jenny tells him what has happened so far. The doctor pats Midwife Jenny on her shoulders—because unlike some of his medical colleagues, he knows the value of a good midwife—then he smiles at John and Margaret. The doctor takes the baby boy from John and hands it to Thompson to put in the other bassinette.
Doctor: “This is wonderful you, two. Congratulations! You were in good hands with Midwife Jenny, here.” Midwife Jenny beams at the compliment. “Let me just examine Mrs. Thornton a bit until she delivers what we call the after birth.” Then spying something unusual—and hearing something unexpected with his listening tube—he asks Midwife Jenny. “Have both babies been born?”
Midwife Jenny points over to the baby girl and baby boy each in their own bassinette.
Midwife Jenny: “ Yes. Why?”
Doctor: Handing her his listening tube to Margaret he says. “Listen to this.” She does so and then stands up with a look of surprise on her face.
John: “What’s wrong?” He is concerned. “Is Margaret alright?”
Margaret: “John, I’m fine, I’m still feeling a little pain. Actually, ow! Oh, my! Oh my!” Margaret strains some more as the doctor looks between her legs.
Doctor: Saying alarmingly. “Stop pushing. You’ve got a third baby in there and its head is crowning, but the cord is wrapped around its neck. I have to remove the cord or the baby will suffocate. Mr. Thornton, distract your wife from pushing while I try to remove the cord. I’m sorry my dear, but this will be painful for you.”
Margaret: “I don’t care. Save our baby.” Then as the doctor reaches his fingers in to Margaret’s tight womb, she screams in pain. “Aahh! Aahh!! Aahh!! Oh, please, oh please, Aahh!!!” Then, she faints from the pain.
John: “Margaret, My Darling. Doctor, what’s happened?” John is so worried that he’s losing Margaret, too.
Doctor: “She’s fainted from the pain. I’ve almost got the cord undone. There.” The small baby almost pops out. Then he and Midwife Jenny work on the baby—holding it up and slapping its bottom, but it doesn’t cry. “It’s not breathing.”
Midwife Jenny: “Then we have to breathe for her.” John now knows that he has a second daughter. Midwife Jenny covers the baby’s mouth and nose with her mouth and she breathes slow puffs into the baby and then pushes gently on its chest. She does this several times and then the baby starts wailing.
Doctor: “Good job Jenny. The baby is small but looks well formed and doesn’t seem to be suffering any ill effects. Jenny you tend to the baby and I’ll see to Mrs. Thornton.” The doctor delivers the after birth and sees that Margaret is not bleeding excessively—despite having triplets. He checks her pulse and it is a little rapid, but that is to be expected after a difficult birth. Then, he listens to her lungs and she seems to be breathing fine. “Alright, Thompson, let’s get these soiled towels cleared away and put clean ones down so Mrs. Thornton will feel comfortable when she wakes up.” Thompson does so. “Let’s also apply some cool compresses to her face and chest.” Thompson does so. “Thank you Thompson, now please go down stairs and bring up a cold ice pillow. After giving birth to triplets, she’s going to need it.” Thompson nods and heads downstairs and then quickly brings an ice pillow and places it on Margaret’s tummy with the sheet over her abdomen.
John: “But will Margaret be alright? “ John is still concerned because Margaret hasn’t woken up.
Doctor: “She’ll be fine. She’ll probably wake up when she hears the next baby cry—it’s innate in mothers. You know Jenny, we could also see if one of the babies wants to nurse and that might also wake Mrs. Thornton up.”
John is completely engrossed and overwhelmed with what has happened. He and Margaret instantly have three children—two daughters and a son. John is still sitting behind Margaret, cradling her in his arms. Then Midwife Jenny brings over their first born daughter whose little mouth is moving around. Midwife Jenny raises the short hem of Mrs. Margaret’s nightgown up on the right side and lays the baby girl next to Margaret’s breast. But since Margaret is still in a faint, John will have to help Margaret hold the baby for her to nurse it.
Midwife Jenny: “Mr. Thornton, Sir, you need to put your right arm under Mrs. Margaret’s right arm to help her hold the baby at her breast until she wakes up.”
John does as he is asked and to his astonishment, their baby girl starts suckling at Margaret’s breast. John watches this in amazement as Margaret’s head is laying on his right shoulder and he kisses Margaret’s forehead. But, Margaret still is in a faint.
Midwife Jenny: “Okay, here comes baby number two, your son. “
Midwife Jenny raises Margaret’s nightgown on her left side and places the baby boy at her left breast. John instinctively supports Margaret’s left arm and helps her hold the baby in place. And, their baby boy is nursing happily now, too. Finally, Margaret’s eyes flutter open and she looks down to see her babies nursing at her breasts.
Margaret: “Oh, John Dearest, are our babies are alright?” She asks breathlessly.
John: “Yes my Darling Margaret.” And he kisses her adoringly and relievedly. Though Margaret had only fainted for five minutes, it seemed like an eternity to John. “Can you bring our third baby over?” Looking down at Margaret he says—since she was in a faint when the baby was born. “Margaret Darling, we have a second daughter.” Margaret smiles.
Midwife Jenny: Bringing the littlest baby—and the last born—of the three she says. “I think we need to wean your older daughter off the breast now and let this little one get some nourishment.” Margaret nods as the Doctor takes her first born and bigger daughter and puts her in the bassinette. Then her youngest and littlest daughter clamps onto her breast and starts suckling. “Well, that little one sure is hungry.” Midwife Jenny says with zeal. They all laugh—glad to see that the tiniest baby is able to take nourishment.
Doctor: “Mrs. Thornton, I’m going to examine your womb again now to see how it’s doing ten minutes after you finished giving birth.” He does so and doesn’t see any excessive bleeding and nods his head. “Good. And your assessment, Midwife Jenny?”
Midwife Jenny: She also takes a look and says. “Good.”
Doctor: “Alright. Well, Mr. Thornton, since you are engaged in helping your wife nurse at the moment, would you like me to give your family an update?” The doctor asks while washing his hands in the basin. “They’re waiting downstairs in the foyer.”
John: “Yes please. Ask Mother if she’ll make some tea. And Thompson, will you go and make some sandwiches for lunch for the family and everyone here?” He says motioning to the doctor the midwife, and Thompson, herself. “After Mrs. Thornton—and I? …” He says amusingly. “… are done nursing our babies, I’ll come down and bring them up in small groups when Mrs. Thornton and I are ready to show them the babies.
Thompson: “Yes Sir. And may I say congratulations!”
Margaret: “Thank you Thompson and Jenny and Doctor. We couldn’t have done this without you.”
Midwife Jenny: “Well, my dear Mrs. Margaret. You’ve been one of my fastest first birth mothers. Thirty minutes to give birth to all three babies—after six hours of labor that you weren’t aware of.” They all laugh.
Now it is time to clue the rest of the family in about their newborn children.
To be continued with Chapter 77
(1) The “North & South: Nurturing Love” story logo is a composite of three images, with text that I added:
(a) John Thornton (as portrayed by Richard Armitage) having just kissed his love Margaret Hale (as portrayed by Daniela Denby-Ashe) and them gazing lovingly at each other in the North & South (BBC 2004), episode 4 (pix 346) train station kissing scene; the image was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode4/slides/ns4-346.html;
(b) a cropped image of the brambled tree branches in the Milton cemetery as John Thornton walks through it in North & South, episode 3 (pix 15); the image was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode3/slides/ns3-015.html;
(c) a masked image of the yellow rose John Thornton picked in Helstone in North & South, episode 4 (pix 271); the image was found at
Previous Story Links for “North and South: Nurturing Love” are found at