“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 80-83: The Babies First Weeks of Life and an Anniversary Celebration, 5/21/12 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #190)
Author’s Story Recap from the previous posting: Margaret and John introduced their new babies to their families. It is still the day of their babies’ birth. Now their lives as parents really begins.
Author’s Mature Content Note: In two chapters in this installment, there are frank but discreet discussions of pregnancy prevention. I have labeled those chapters PG-13. If you are unable or unwilling to see a movie with this rating, then please refrain from reading those chapters. This is my disclaimer.
Author’s Note: My story, “North & South: Nurturing Love” will have two more installments–concluding on Monday, May 28th. There is still a bit of excitement ahead in our story–and perhaps, a ‘not so surprise’ ending. But no spoilers.
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 80: Margaret and John eat a little, sleep a little, and nurse a little Sunday Afternoon
John brings his and Margaret’s Sunday lunch and her cold ice pillow to their bedroom after he sees their families and the doctor off. John tips Midwife Jenny and then asks for her additional assistance.
John: “Jenny, thank you for all of your help again today. We couldn’t have done it without you. Margaret and I were wondering if you would be willing to come over and help out days this week and possibly next week? We’ll pay you your rate—whichever is higher, the mill or your midwife rate.”
Midwife Jenny: “Thank you sir, I will be right happy to help out.” She beams. “Shall I be coming around 7:00am and then staying until 5:00pm? That way I can then attend to my own family in the evening?”
John: “That should work out fine. Well, we’ll see you tomorrow morning.” Midwife Jenny nods and leaves. “Now Margaret Darling, let’s see if you can eat some food before the babies want to be fed again. You must keep your strength up.”
John: Meanwhile, John devours his sandwich [(2) right]. Then he says sheepishly as he wipes a napkin at his mouth. “I’m sorry Margaret Darling. I guess I was hungry.”
Margaret: Poking his stomach gently, she smiles teasingly. “Oh, you and your stomach.” They both laugh.
But soon, Margaret’s fatigue at giving birth today takes over as she dozes while lying on her pillow. John smiles at his lovely wife and now also the mother of their children and kisses her forehead as she continues to sleep. Thompson knocks and comes in to check on the Mrs. and the babies.
Thompson: “Well Sir, did Mrs. Margaret eat and drink a little something?” She whispers hopefully, seeing Madam asleep again. Well Mrs. Margaret did give birth today, thinks Thompson–and to three babies, not one. Thompson thinks that Mrs. Margaret has done surprisingly well today for one so young–just 21–and seeing as she is from a station in life when three children in a family are not necessarily found, let alone all at once!
John: “Yes, she did.” He whispers, looking over at Margaret’s angelic sleeping face. “Um Thompson. I’m going to be mostly at home with my wife during the day this week and we’ve also asked Midwife Jenny to come help out 7:00am to 5:00pm. But, I’m going to need some backup help in the evening as well. And we would really rather have someone we know. So would you be willing to work a little later into the evenings the next few weeks—say until 8:00pm? We’ll pay you extra since you’ll be working for two more hours each day. I just need to have a person with me helping Margaret in the evenings since there are now three babies.”
Thompson: “Aye Sir, of course. Happy to help out. You’ve got a lot on your hands. And Mrs. Margaret will be recuperating for at least two weeks. So, all that she’ll be able to do will be to nurse [(3)] them babies. That will probably sap all her strength.” Looking down at Margaret’s half eaten food she says. “So, we must try to get her to eat more so she can get better herself, as well as, have enough nourishment for the three babies.”
Thompson: “Right you are. Now Mr. Thornton Sir, your babies will be waking up soon and wanting their milk from Mrs. Margaret. So, we should really see if she wants to visit the bathroom first since she won’t have time to do that once she starts nursing again.”
John: He nods his head at Thompson’s practical no nonsense approach to baby feeding logistics. Then he kisses Margaret’s cheek to awaken her. “Margaret Darling.” Margaret’s sleepy eyes flutter open. “Would you like me to carry you to the bathroom before the babies wake up and want to nurse again?”
Margaret: Sleep had only claimed her for a few moments and she is still quite tired. “Yes, thank you John Dearest.”
John: Helping her out of bed and lifting her in his arms he says. “Oh, and I’ve lined up Midwife Jenny to help days and Thompson here is going to stay a bit later in the evenings so we have an extra person to help us.”
Margaret: “Thank you Thompson.” Margaret says wearily, but gratefully. Thompson nods with a smile at her mistress and heads back to the kitchen.
John carries Margaret through her dressing room and then into the bathroom. Margaret is able to use the commode and John helps her wash her face and hands before he carries her back into her bedroom. John is a most attentive husband, seeing to Margaret’s care with tenderness and love. Then John ducks back into the bathroom himself and does the same before returning to his bedroom.
John: “Thompson, since the babies are still sleeping, will you empty the commode? And give our soiled birthing clothes to Edwards for the wash?”
Of course, directions such as these–having to do with the domestic activities of their home, Rose Cottage [(5) right]–usually come from Margaret. But she is otherwise occupied as a new mother and so John makes their requests–albeit a bit sheepishly as his face pinkens a bit. In both his home with his mother and then now with Margaret, John had always taken such things for granted–not knowing how such things were done or accomplished about their home for their comfort and ease, just that they were done. John’s previous inattention to household matters would seem to be in stark contrast to his command of all things at the mill. But then, John’s home–be it his mother’s home or now his home with Margaret–was and is the domain of the ladies.
Thompson: “Aye sir.” Thompson leaves to do so. She smiles with amusement to have the master tending to such mundane aspects of the household.
Just then, baby Robert starts to make some waking gurgling noises and so does the littlest baby Catherine. So John hands Margaret Little Catherine to nurse on her left breast this time—with pillows underneath her arms supporting her—and then John hands Margaret baby Robert to nurse on her right breast. With Margaret doing double duty nursing, John realizes that he will have to do the burping. So, when baby Robert is done nursing, John picks him up and burps him with a towel over his shoulders.
Margaret: “John Dearest, you were in earnest. You really do know what to do with babies.” Margaret says with some astonishment.
John: “Ha ha ha! Well, I may be a bit rusty. But, I think it’s coming back to me.”
John lays the now sleeping again baby Robert in his bassinette and John picks up baby Rachel and hands her to Margaret. When she is awake, Margaret is rarely without two babies in her arms and at her breast [(6) right]. Then, he takes little baby Catherine and burps her before laying her sleeping in the third bassinette. Meanwhile, Margaret shifts baby Rachel to her other breast that little baby Catherine had just finished nursing at. So far, Margaret seems to have enough milk for all three babies. But, there may come a time when the babies are a bit older but still need milk that they will have to supplement Margaret’s milk with a wet nurse [(3)]. But John and Margaret will worry about that when the time comes. They need to take their babies needs one day at a time–and this is day one.
Margaret: “John Dearest, there is one thing you’re forgetting.” John looks at her quizzically–then he looks back and forth at the babies sleeping snug in their bassinettes.
John: “I don’t think so.” He pouts cutely, thinks Margaret. Then John has a burst of inspiration. “Should I give them each another swaddling blanket for warmth?”
Margaret: “No, they should be warm enough. But you need to see if their diapers [(7)] need changing. After two feedings, they probably need it.”
John: “But I haven’t noticed that they … smelled like they need it.” He rolls his eyes winsomely.
Margaret: “Give the babies a day or two of feedings and their diapers will start to smell stinky. So, we just have to check their diapers until then.”
John: “Right!” He nods his head sheepishly. Of course, it has been a long time since he was around a baby–his sister Fanny–and then she was the only baby of his acquaintance. “Well I’ll take them one at a time into the bathroom to do that.”
Margaret: “Thank you, John Dearest.” She says lying gratefully back onto her pillow.
Margaret and John had already set up a baby changing station in the bathroom to be close to running water. John takes each baby in turn and changes their soiled diapers—no excrement, just urine so far. Then he leaves the diapers for Edwards, the laundry lady, to do. Then he reports that to Margaret.
John: “Margaret my dear, you were right. They had … eliminated.” He offers a tad stiffly–uncomfortable to be speaking about a bodily function usually done in private. Of course nothing babies do is in private.
Margaret: “And what did you find in their diapers?” She asks interestedly to discern the health of their babies.
John: But John becomes even more discomfitted at providing a greater description of the diapers contents. “Uhh hmmm.” He stammers quite like a school boy. “They had only … um … passed water.”
Margaret: “Good! Well, we’ll have to think about giving them each a bath tomorrow morning—unless they urinate too much overnight and need a bath then.”
John: John nods agreeably to her–glad to have the topic of their babies discussion move on to bathing. “Margaret, It’s a good thing we have servants and helpers. I don’t know how other people do it.” Margaret nods her head knowingly. Afterall, it was Margaret who tended to their workers’ littlest ones still in diapers at the Marlborough Mills Mother’s Nursery they had established last Fall. So she gained valuable experiences in mothering during that time.
After the 2:30pm afternoon nursing feedings, John and Margaret gratefully nap along with their babies. John had changed back into a fresh pair of pajamas and lies between the sheets cradling Margaret in his arms. He is laying flat, being careful not to inadvertently roll over onto Margaret since her abdomen is still tender.
To be continued with Chapter 81
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 81: Late Sunday Afternoon Visit by the Doctor (PG-13)
Around 5:00pm on Sunday afternoon of the same day the babies are born, the doctor returns to see how Margaret and the babies are doing. Normally, the doctor might not be so attentive, but Mrs. Thornton had three babies today and they are his most distinguished patients as they are among the first citizens of Milton. Thompson lets the doctor into Rose Cottage and motions him to go upstairs. The doctor knocks on the bedroom door and finds John awake and lying shirtless next to his sleeping Margaret. The babies are also sleeping soundly. He motions for John to walk over to the sitting area of the bedroom so they can talk and not awaken Margaret or the babies. John puts on his robe out of modesty before joining the doctor.
Doctor: “So, how are you and the babies faring so far?” He smiles knowingly–being the father of five children himself.
John: “Well, we’ve had two feedings and one diaper change. I’ve secured Midwife Jenny to be an extra helper during the day while I’m here with Margaret most of the time this coming week. Then, Thompson is going to work until 8:00pm each evening so that we have a helper for at least part of the night.” John proudly ticks off what he has ‘organized’ for Margaret and their babies.
Doctor: Nodding his head in agreement. “That sounds like a good plan. Mrs. Thornton will probably be on bed rest for most of this week—and limited movement for next week. She may start moving around in her bed chamber here on Wednesday and maybe walk to the bathroom herself by the weekend. But I want someone with her when she goes to the bathroom and such. And still no stairs at all.” Then the doctor leans in to John and says in a man to man conspiratorial fashion. “And though, you’re probably not thinking about this since you just had your babies today, but you should not lay together as husband and wife to give Mrs. Thornton time to heal.”
John: “You’re right, doctor. I hadn’t even thought about Margaret and I being together intimately with all of the commotion today. But we’re a loving couple so that will come up—especially since … well …” John blushes. “Since … Margaret did not feel well enough this past month for us to be together intimately. We are a loving couple.” John says again for emphasis and he blushes again.
Doctor: “Yes.” The doctor smiles at John’s admission of his tender devotion to his wife Margaret. “And although there seems to be some evidence that mothers’ nursing protects them from getting pregnant, I wouldn’t totally rely on that. I have seen some mothers give birth nine months apart from their previous baby. Given that Mrs. Thornton just had three babies at once, you’ll probably want to give your wife a respite from being pregnant and having babies for at least two years while these babies are in diapers.”
John: John plops onto the sette dumbfounded and looks up at the doctor distressed [(8) right] at the notion of two years without being intimate with Margaret. Then John says a little sheepishly. “But doctor, Margaret and I love each other very much. I don’t think we can … um … forgo being intimate with each other for two months, let alone two years.”
Doctor: “Ha ha ha!” The doctor laughs softly so as not to awaken Mrs. Margaret. “Not to worry Mr. Thornton, no one expects a healthy and loving couple to forgo marital relations for that extended a length of time.” John sighs in relief. “Just refrain from lying together as husband and wife maybe three to four weeks at most while she recovers from the births. I can provide you with some sheaths to cover your member during intercourse which will help with some pregnancy prevention. I took the liberty of bringing a few sheaths with me for you to have for later.” The doctor hands John a sack with the sheaths in them.
John: John looks in the sack and has a quizzical expression on his face. “Um Doctor, …” Feeling a little sheepish, John admits. “Margaret is my only love. So, I’ve never used these before.”
Doctor: “Well, you use each of them once and then throw it away.” John nods his head. “Also, you can be more aware of Mrs. Thornton’s monthly cycles and avoid laying with each other intimately during her most fertile period.”
John: “And that is when?” Thinking logically and strategically about love making with his wife is rather foreign to John—understandably so since he was also a virgin when he and Margaret married.
Doctor: “Ten to fourteen days before her monthly bleeding is due to start. So, you’re really only looking at four days each month when you should try to refrain from intimacies—or at the very least, use one of the sheaths.”
John: Relieved to being given a reprieve from the absence of Margaret’s wifely affections, John says simply while blushing profusely. “We’ll try that, doctor. I mean, especially considering Margaret became pregnant with these babies almost as soon as she recovered from the miscarriage, we seem to be …” John stops, embarrassed to be on the point of suggesting to the doctor that they are a fertile couple–which also implies the loving eagerness with which John and Margaret share their marital bed.
Doctor: “Quite! And you had three babies. Now, not to frighten you, but in my experience, women who have one pregnancy with more than one baby, have a greater likelihood of having another pregnancy later on with more than one baby.”
John: Feeling a little chastened knowing how difficult it has been having three babies–and they only became parents seven and a half hours ago—John says. “We will do what we need to do to give Margaret’s body time to recover from the pregnancy. And, we already have one of each—two girls and a boy—so at most it might be nice to have a second son so the boys can be playmates. But, we’re just focusing on the babies we have at the moment.”
Doctor: “Very sensible. There is no need to get ahead of yourselves. Besides, I will hazard a guess that you will both be so tired during the next few weeks that intimacy will be the last thing on your minds.”
John: “Well, I hope not.” He smiles amusingly to the doctor. John has been without Margaret’s loving attentions for the last month–and his attentions to her–since she did not feel well enough for anything but kissing and cuddling. And now as a loving husband of almost a year, John is even more besotted with his wife Margaret and their loving intimacies. But he regains his decorous composure and nods at the doctor. “Thank you for these.” John holds up the sack with the sheaths in them. But given the frequency of the loving martial couplings–twice a day at least–John will run out of these sheaths in as little as two days time once he and Margaret share their love with each other again. “Um doctor … how do I obtain more of these?”
Doctor: The doctor raises his eyebrow only slightly, since he remembers his own early married years with fond affection. “Just come to me and I will supply more to you.” John nods–grateful to have their conversation regarding such an intimately personal topic concluded.
After the doctor checks the sleeping Margaret’s condition, by listening to her stomach and heart, and checking her pulse rate, the doctor is satisfied that Margaret is doing well and he leaves them for the night.
To be continued with Chapter 82
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 82: Sunday Evening Cuddling, Napping, Eating, Nursing, etc. (PG-13)
Around 5:30pm Margaret and the babies awaken. Since it has only been three hours since the babies last nursed and their diapers are dry, Margaret and John surmise that the babies just want to be held. So that is what they do. Handing the two oldest babies to Margaret, John cradles little baby Catherine Hannah against his bare chest. Her little fingers grab at his chest hair as she nestles in to him.
John: “Look at that, she’s actually able to grip something—even though it’s only my chest hairs.”
Margaret: Looking amusingly over at John sitting next to her on the bed she says. “Well enjoy it while you can. When they get a bit older—such as when they’re two months old—their grip and their suckling is going to be a little painful from what I’ve been told.” Baby Rachel and Baby Robert are nestled dozing off and on comfortably in Margaret’s arms propped up on pillows.
John: “Oh Margaret Dear. Um. The doctor was here while you were still napping and said that you seem to be coming along nicely. Um …” John feels more than a little sheepish about broaching the topic of making love with Margaret right after she had their babies. “Um, he also suggested that we wait to be intimate with each other to give you time to heal.”
Margaret: She nods her head, because her abdomen and womb are still sore from giving birth just seven hours ago. “That sounds reasonable.” Then looking at John, she asks. “Did he say anything else?”
John: “Well Margaret Darling, um, he said that we probably don’t want you to get pregnant again for at least two years to give your body a rest.”
Margaret: Now fully alert, she asks in a modest but eager tone as she searches for the right words. “John Dearest, the doctor isn’t saying that we shouldn’t be … loving … with each other for two years?”
John: “Whew! I’m glad to see that you have the same reaction as I did Margaret Darling. Ha ha ha!” John laughs. “No, he just suggests that we refrain from lovemaking for at least three to four weeks and then after that, during what he termed your most fertile periods each month. He gave me some sheaths to use as a further protection against an unplanned pregnancy during your most fertile periods.” He sees Margaret’s quizzical look at the word sheaths and explains. “Don’t worry about it Margaret Dear, it’s something I have to wear when we make love.” Then he points to his lap and Margaret raises her eyebrows in growing comprehension as she nods her head.
Margaret: “Well John dearest considering that we just gave birth to triplets, we shouldn’t be shy about talking about pregnancy issues.” Then Margaret looks over at John lovingly and says. “John Dear, I am unable to move with having two babies in my arms. Do you think you might please lean over and give me a kiss?” She smiles sweetly enticingly [(9) right]–looking the picture of motherly and womanly beauty with her babies in her arms.
John: “It is my pleasure to oblige you, my darling!” John says overly effusively as he leans in and kisses Margaret on her lips–while he is still holding little baby Catherine [(10) right]–and they both giggle.
Margaret: “Hmm. That’s nice. John Dear, since the babies are sleeping soundly again now, would you please lay them in their bassinettes?”
John nods his head and gently lays each baby in their bassinettes. Then he goes back lying next to Margaret on his side. Margaret turns and lays on her side and John cradles her in his arms.
John: “Oh my darling Margaret, I love you so. You were so brave today in giving birth to our babies. I’m so proud of you. And I love you more than I can say.”
Margaret: “I love you so John Dearest. Thank you for helping me. I cannot tend to our babies as they need without you.”
They kiss and cuddle—very gently—for some time. After a little while, John carries Margaret to the bathroom again. Then when he has her sitting comfortably back in bed, John goes to the bathroom.
While John is in the bathroom this Sunday evening, Thompson knocks on the bedroom door.
Thompson: “Mrs. Margaret?”
Margaret: “Yes Thompson?”
Thompson: “Mrs. Margaret, I have your and Mr. Thornton’s dinner’s. May I bring them in?”
Margaret: “Oh, yes please.” Margaret says hoping that John doesn’t walk back in the bedroom before he sees that Thompson is here—since John forgot to put his robe on and he is bare chested and in his pajama pants. Thompson walks in and sets the food tray on the table near the sitting area.
Thompson: “And how are you feeling Mrs. Margaret? Better?”
Margaret: “Yes, I think I am. But I’m still very tired. Thank you for asking.” Then seeing her shirtless husband starting to walk back into their bedroom from her dressing room, she says. “John Dear, Thompson is in here with our dinners.” John stops and backs up into the dressing room–waiting to enter the bedroom after their servant has left. “Then to Thompson, she says. “Mr. Thornton and I will enjoy our dinners now. So, we’ll see you in the morning, Thompson. Do we have enough diapers and clean towels for the three babies overnight?”
Thompson: “Yes, Mrs. Margaret.”
Margaret: “Then, I think we’ll be alright. Thompson, thank you so much for all of your help today. We couldn’t have done it without you.”
Thompson: “I’m glad to help Mrs. Margaret. I’ll be back up once more around 8:00pm to take your dinner plates and bring you another cold ice pillow.”
Margaret: “Thank you.” Margaret sighs gratefully to Thompson as she leaves her bedroom.
John: “Well, that was close.” John exhales in embarrassment borne of his modesty in almost being seen so undressed by their servant.
Margaret: “Yes John Dear.” Margaret tilts her head in amusement at his embarrassment. After giving birth earlier today with her husband, the doctor, the midwife, and her servant all in attendance, Margaret wonders if she isn’t the proper person to claim embarrassment at her then state of being undressed?
John: “I guess I had better keep my robe handy. Let me bring your food to you, Margaret Darling.” Margaret has basically a breakfast plate of soft foods—eggs, toast and jelly and tea.
Margaret: “Hmm. This tastes good. I guess I have my appetite back—which is good since the babies are being nourished from me.”
John: John gets back into bed with Margaret and he bites greedily into his sandwich and sips his soup in a mug—no spoon required that way. “I guess I was hungrier that I thought.” Then he leans over and kisses Margaret on her lips lovingly–which she welcomes.
Margaret: “Well, it’s 6:00pm now. We’ll have to see if the babies make it the four hours to 6:30pm for their next nursing, or whether they’ll want to be fed before then. So, it’s good I’m getting a bite to eat now.”
John nods as he finishes off his food. Then he removes their dinner plates to the tray on a table in the sitting area. John and Margaret decide to nap a bit before the next nursing cycle as they lay cradled in each other’s arms. They get to nap about an hour before the babies start to awaken wanting to nurse. So, John brings Margaret the two girls while he rocks baby Robert–soothing him until it is his turn to suckle. Then, when their elder daughter Rachel is done nursing, John swaps her out for baby Robert and burps Rachel before laying her in her bassinette since her diaper is still dry. Then, when little baby Catherine is done nursing, John burps her and continues to cuddle her as the Midwife told them to do to help her thrive. When she falls asleep, John puts Catherine in her bassinette. Margaret has already switched baby Robert to finish off nursing the milk in the breast where Catherine had been. Then John burps baby Robert and lays him in his bassinette.
It is now almost 7:30pm. John carries Margaret into the bathroom and then back to bed, laying her down to sleep. John checks the babies’ diapers and finds them wet. So, he takes each baby in turn into the bathroom and changes their diapers each in turn before returning them to sleep in their bassinettes. Finally, John uses the bathroom himself before returning to bed with Margaret. At 7:55pm, Thompson comes up with a fresh cold ice pillow that Margaret takes gratefully—and some fresh cold water for them to drink—and then Thompson removes the dinner dishes to the kitchen and leaves for the night. Then, John and Margaret cuddle in each other’s arms and fall fast asleep. It seems that tending to three babies is tiring for both their mother and their father.
From the Sunday evening of their birth through to the following Monday morning, John’s and Margaret’s babies seem to be on about a four hour schedule. So, at 11:00pm, and then again at 3:00am, Margaret nurses the babies, John burps them, and then John changes their diapers before laying them back to sleep. Since this process takes about one hour each time, John and Margaret try to nap during the intervening three hours. John dutifully bounds downstairs to the kitchen after each nursing shift to get Margaret a freshly cold ice pillow that she appreciates.
As dawn softly streams light through John and Margaret’s bedroom windows around 6:30am, they awaken to the pleasant scent of fresh flowers. Once again, the mill workers have shown their kindness—as they did when Margaret and John miscarried their first child—and brought wildflowers to the house that Thompson has placed around the room. John awakens first and seeing that Margaret and the babies are sleeping soundly, he visits the bathroom to freshen up, shave [(11) right], and such, then he returns to Margaret’s side. Margaret already has a freshly cold ice pillow on her abdomen that Thompson must have placed there when she brought up the flowers, thinks John. After putting on his pajama top again, John slides back into bed with Margaret, cradling her in his arms and he kisses her cheek. Margaret continues to doze for a few minutes longer, then her sleepy eyes flutter open.
John: “There you are Margaret Darling. Good morning my love.” John kisses Margaret warmly on her lips and she smiles.
Margaret: “Good morning John Dearest. Was I dreaming, or did we have three babies?” She asks a little uncertainly.
John: “You weren’t dreaming. We have three babies.” John says with his eyes very wide. “Would you like me to help you to the bathroom?” Margaret nods and he carries her into the bathroom. She also washes her face and brushes her teeth before John brings her back to bed. Since the babies are still sleeping soundly after John checks on them, John and Margaret decide to let them sleep until they want to nurse. So, John and Margaret also decide to nap a little more bit until the whole nursing, burping, baby rocking, and diaper changing process begins all over again. Margaret lays flat so she can feel the cold ice pillow over all of her abdomen. So, John lays on his side facing Margaret and cradling her in his arms—taking care, not to accidently lean on her since she is still quite sore. Then, John and Margaret nap. Then, promptly at 7:00am, Midwife Jenny taps on John and Margaret’s bedroom door.
To be continued with Chapter 83
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 83: The Babies First Weeks of Life, and John and Margaret’s First Anniversary on May 18th
The first week of the babies’ lives—for Rachel, Robert, and Catherine—involve both John and Margaret in round the clock nursing, burping, diapering, and bathing. And, despite having servants to help, it is an exhausting process. And, since Margaret is still recuperating from having given birth to triplets, it is triply hard on her. So much so, that John continues his care of Margaret at home a second week with only intermittent stops in at the Mill each morning when midwife Jenny comes in. It is a busy and loving time for John and Margaret and their babies. And the babies all thrive—even little Catherine Hannah, the smallest of the three babies is gaining weight well. When the babies are three weeks old, John and Margaret celebrate their 1st year anniversary quietly with a small dinner party with their family.
John: John takes Margaret’s hand in his as they greet their families [(12) right]. “Welcome, we are delighted that you could join us. We’ve got a two hour period before Margaret has to nurse the babies again. So, we hope to enjoy a lovely dinner with you.”
Margaret: “Yes, and a meal that is at a table.” Margaret and John laugh. “You see, almost all of my meals since the babies were born have been in bed, or sitting on our sette in our bedroom. So, being downstairs is a real treat for me.”
Mother Thornton: “Well, Margaret Dear, …” She says kissing her. “… you look wonderful. How are you holding up?”
Margaret: “It’s a challenge, but I sleep a lot in between nursing the babies.”
Fanny: Asking caringly, but in a whisper to Margaret–since such things as babies and their care are not usually discussed in polite conversation, let alone in mixed company. “And are you drinking plenty of fluids so you have enough mother’s milk for the babies?”
Margaret: Margaret whispers back. “Yes, Fanny dear.” Then Margaret admonishes Fanny to take care of her own health. “But you need to sit down considering you are about to give birth yourself.”
Watson: Walking over to where his wife now sits down next to Margaret, he leans down and kisses the top of her head. “Yes, Fanny my darling girl. We’ve taken a chance coming out tonight since you’re due to give birth any time now.”
Fanny: “Oh I’m fine.” She says swishing her hand at everyone. Fanny has not only become calmer and kinder—as her marriage and pregnancy has gone along–she has also become less of a hypochondriac. John marvels at his sister Fanny taking her condition in stride. “The doctor said that walking would help me have an easier time of it when it is time for me to give birth. I can only hope that I’ll have as quick a birthing process as Margaret.” Fanny blushes to be speaking of so intimate a topic–despite the fact that Fanny is well known for her frankness.
John: “But, without the extra babies. Hmmm?” They all laugh.
Father Hale: “There’s a good girl.”
They all walk into John and Margaret’s formal dining room and have a lovely dinner as a family. The dining room also has the three babies sleeping in more bassinettes that John and Margaret purchased so that they would have baby areas upstairs and downstairs–without having to move supplies and baby furniture around. Their wealth allows them this measure of comfort and convenience. Of course the grandparents and aunt and uncle ooh and aah over the babies–requesting to hold them while they sleep. And John and Margaret relent just this once–hoping that the babies stay asleep, and they do. Then over dessert, the adults play some cards before it is time for Margaret and John to head upstairs to nurse the babies. John carries the two older babies up the stairs first–Rachel and Robert–then he returns for their littlest baby Catherine. Margaret must still take great care in using the stairs–especially since she is in a full skirt again that she must lift up as she holds onto the banister with her other hand.
Once ensconced in their bedroom, in their nightclothes and with their babies, the baby feeding begins in earnest. Since John is back at work full time during the day, he relishes being Margaret’s evening nursing helper and baby diaper changer. John is quite the doting father to Margaret’s endless amusement and appreciation. Who would have thought that the Master of Marlborough Mills was as expert with a diaper as he is with managing his mill? But of course, their babies’ diapers are made from layers of the cut off bolt end scraps from the soft cotton fabric made at the mill–so John is not entirely straying from his field of expertise, Margaret thinks amusingly to herself and smiles.
To be continued with Chapter 84
(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
(2) Image (cropped and masked) representing John Thornton heartily enjoying his sandwich is that of Richard Armitage (who portrays Lucas North) on the set of Spooks series 7 and was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Spooks/spookspromo/album/slides/series7-03.html
(3) “Jane Austen mentions the practice [of wet nursing] in her novel Emma. Women took in babies for money in Victorian Britain, and nursed them themselves or fed them with whatever was cheapest.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wet_nurse
(4) Image representing Margaret Thornton falling fast asleep the evening after her birthing ordeal is that of Margaret (as portrayed by Daniela Denby-Ashe) napping on the grass was found at http://www3.images.coolspotters.com/photos/311112/margaret-hale-and-north-and-south-gallery.jpg
(5) Image representing Rose Cottage, John and Margaret Thornton’s home, is a composite of two images: the home was found at http://wac.2a97.edgecastcdn.net/802A97/verticals.news-record.com/files/imagecache/zoom_view/Images/TH_Kemp01_022612.jpg; and the roses that I masked and sampled them onto the home were from MS Office Clip Art found at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=roses&ctt=1#ai:MP900145125|mt:2|
(6) Manip of Margaret holding two of her babies is a composite of two images: a flipped and cropped head shot of Margaret Hale at the Masters’ Dinner (image cropped, brightened and more red added) in the 2004 BBC Production of North & South Episode 2 (pix 213) was found at http://www.richardarmitageonline.com/north-and-south/north-south-pictures-episode2.html ; and an image of a mother holding her twins was found at http://www.corbisimages.com/stock-photo/royalty-free/RF4473506/mother-holding-her-newborn-twins
(7) “Here is an extract from ‘The Modern Home Doctor’ written by doctors in the UK in 1935. “Nice old, soft bits of good Turkish towelling, properly washed, will make the softest of diaper coverings, inside which specially absorbent napkins (diapers), see below at 1A, soft, light, and easily washed, are contained. These should rarely be soiled once regular habits have been inculcated, especially during the night period in which it is most important to prevent habit formation
1A -(squares of butter muslin or Harrinton’s packed rolls of “mutton cloth” in packets, sold for polishing motor-cars, would do equally well and are very cheap and soft”)” was found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diaper In more recent times for citizens of Britain and some of its Commonwealth nations, the slang word nappies (believed to be derived from the word napkin) is a term also often heard in place of the word diapers. However, for the purposes of our story and its setting in the mid 1800’s, the word diaper is perfectly appropriate as noted by the wiki entry above since “diaper” was a term still in use in the UK at least until 1935.
(8) Image (cropped and brightened) of John Thornton (as portrayed by Richard Armitage from the BBC’s 2004 production of North & South episode2 (pix 223) was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode2/slides/ns2-223.html
(9) Manip of Margaret holding two of her babies is a composite of two images: a Flipped and cropped head shot of Margaret Hale at the Masters’ Dinner (image cropped, brightened and more red added) in the 2004 BBC Production of North & South Episode 2 (pix 213) was found at http://www.richardarmitageonline.com/north-and-south/north-south-pictures-episode2.html; and an image of a mother holding her twins was found at http://www.corbisimages.com/stock-photo/royalty-free/RF4473506/mother-holding-her-newborn-twins
(10) Image used to represent a sleeping baby was found at http://shaluhere.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/face-of-sleeping-cute-baby-480×360.jpg
(11) Image representing John Thornton shaving is of Richard Armitage portraying Percy Courtney in Miss Marie Lloyd: Queen of the Music Hall (2007), pix 14 http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/marielloyd/album/slides/ML-14.html
(12) Cropped and masked image of John Thornton (as portrayed by Richard Armitage) from the BBC’s 2004 production of North & South, Promo pix 17 was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/NandSPromo/album/slides/NandSPromo-17.html; composited with composite image of Margaret Hale’s head (as portrayed by Daniela Denby-Ashe) from the North & South music soundtrack dvd cover found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/NandSPromo/album/slides/NandSPromo-12.html; and a pink Victorian dress found at http://fripperiesandfobs.tumblr.com/post/12025132525/dress-ca-late-1830s-from-the-centre-de; photo manip done by Gratiana Lovelace, 3/25/12.
Previous Story Links for “North and South: Nurturing Love” are found at