“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 32 (PG-13)–Babies Part 2, August 05, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #435)
[From time to time, I will illustrate my story with my dream cast of: Richard Armitage as Lord Rafe Wingate, Carla Gugino as Lady Katharine Southwick Wingate, Lesley Nicol as Mrs. Plunkett, Lady Violet Henderson as Lady Leonora Wingate, Emilie Francois as Anna Wingate, Mark Strong as Sir Collin MacGregor, Alan Bates as Lord Charles Wingate, Christian Bale as Stuart MacGregor, Daniel Day-Lewis as Sir Antony Southwick, Michelle Pfeiffer as Lady Charmaine Southwick, Catherine Deneuve as Lady Esmѐ Sinclair, Julian Sands as Sir Percival Southwick, Samantha Morton as Lady Lucinda Southwick, Raymond Coulthard as David Harriott, Rosamund Pike as Fanny Miller, Brendan Coyle as Uncle Miller, Princess Adelaide as herself, Princess Victoria as herself, Kirsten Dunst as Cassandra Hatch, Matthew MacFadyen as Fr. Robert Hatch, and others, etc.] [Story Logo 1abcd]
Author’s Mature Content Note: “Love is a Choice” is a story of love and romance set in the early to mid 1800’s. I like Regency sensibilities with regard to comedy of manners, but Romantic period modes of dress. Ha! As such there will be some passages in this story involving heartfelt love scenes (perhaps some R rated) and some passages involving highly dramatic moments. I will label the maturity rating of those chapters accordingly. Otherwise, the general rating for this story is PG or PG-13 due to some mature situations and topics. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide, then please do not read the chapters with those labels. This is my disclaimer.
Additional Disclaimer: The Wiki and other reference links I cite contain general information merely to indicate that a place, person, or artifact, etc., possibly existed. Though I try to use real locations in England and I make reference to some historically complementary information whenever possible, the fictionalized history that I write about for these towns, towns folks, and areas in my story are mostly figments of my imagination and should not be taken as fact.
Author’s Recap from the previous installment: Lady Charmaine and Sir Antony Southwick welcomed their third child into the world–a daughter whom they named Lady Rosalind Marie Southwick. Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine had not only made it back to London in time for the birth–after attending Fr. Robert and Cassie Hatch’s wedding in Maylandsea, Essex–but Lord Rafe had to step in and assist with the delivery when the doctor and midwife had not arrived in time. His prior experience being relegated to pony births at the Dearing Estate stables. But all went well and the doctor and midwife finally arrived.
“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 32 (PG-13)–Babies Part 2
Lady Leonora Wingate received a letter at Dearing Manor in Warwickshire from her son Lord Rafe about the birth of the new Southwick baby–Lady Katharine’s baby sister, Lady Rosalind Marie Southwick just after Mid April 1827. So Lord and Lady Wingate decide to travel with twelve year old Baroness Anna to London a month later in mid May to see the now one month old baby Southwick.
Anna [(2) right] is a bit put out because not only did she miss the excitement of the birth of her new aunt since she was at Dearing Manor with her grandparents, but she also missed Fr. Robert and Cassie Hatch’s wedding that had occurred just days before. And though Lord Rafe’s and Lady Katharine’s explanation about not sending for Anna for the Hatch wedding due to the short timeframe was made clear to her, Anna still feels left out. On top of that, they inform her that Stuart MacGregor will be touring the continent with his parents this Summer. So Anna will not see Stuart again until Christmas time. And she is sad about that as well.
As the Wingates–grandparents Lord Charles and Lady Leonora, and Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine and Anna–sit in the large parlor sitting room of the Southwick’s London home waiting for an audience with the new baby, Lady Katharine’s brother’s family, Sir Percival arrives to also see the new baby.
Lady Katharine: “Perce! We did not expect to see you so soon.” They kiss cheeks and embrace fondly as brother and sister.
Sir Percival: “Well our little Eliza could not wait to meet her new aunt. Rafe!” They shake hands.
Lord Rafe: “Perce! It is good to see you again.” They walk over to the side and chat as gentlemen do.
Lady Katharine: “Lucy and Eliza!” They kiss cheeks. Then general introductions are made between the Wingates, the Southwicks, and David Harriott who tagged long. But that is just for form’s sake, they are all extended family, so everyone knows each other already.
Lady Leonora: “Katharine Dear, I see that you are starting to show your pregnancy.” She smiles as a proud Grandmama.
Lord Rafe: Putting his arm around his wife’s shoulders and kissing her temple, Lord Rafe [(3) right] smiles as one in awe about the advent of his second child to be born in the Autumn. “Mama, Papa, it is a wonder! And we can even feel the baby kicking now that Kate is almost past her fifth month.” Lord Rafe gently puts his hand over Lady Katharine’s plump tummy for a few seconds as he and Lady Katharine smile at each other. “Ahhh!” Lord Rafe smiles again when he is rewarded with a baby’s kick. Then he and Lady Katharine kiss sweetly.
But there is one quarter who has not been heard from. No, not Lord Charles Wingate. He has happily detoured to sitting off to the side in a comfy chair reading the newspaper–only looking up occasionally when he hears his name mentioned–he nods, then he happily buries his nose in his reading again. It is Anna who watches the happy reunions from standing by the fireplace, and she feels strangely apart from them.
Lady Lucinda: Walking over to her niece Anna, Lady Lucinda caresses her cheek. “Baroness Anna, you are looking well. We have missed you.”
Eliza: Patting her Mama’s face, Eliza gurgles. “Mah mah!” And Lady Lucinda kisses her daughter’s cheek.
Anna: “You have, Aunt Lucy?” Anna asks quizzically.
David: Leaning forward after walking behind his sister Lady Lucinda, he adds. “We have.” Then David Harriott lifts Anna’s hand to his lips and kisses it. “Each time we meet, you seem to grow in beauty and maturity.”
Anna: Still only twelve, Anna takes David’s words literally–rather than as fawning compliments. “Well, I am twelve and a half now. David, do you think I am taller?” Anna smiles up at the handsome David [(4) right] who smiles back at her.
David: “Perhaps a bit, but you are still charming as ever.” He smiles.
David likes Anna enormously–even though she is seven years younger than he is, and it will be many years before she might begin to have men pay their addresses to her. It is a harmless flirtation on both of their parts. They are family by marriage, and thus meet several times a year. They are comfortable with each other as familiar acquaintances, but no more. And David–as a rake in training as Lord Rafe once labeled him–has other more mature ladies of his acquaintance who favor him with their charms from time to time. David’s interest in Anna is strictly honorable.
Lady Lucinda: Having watched the exchange with bemusement, she interjects as Baby Eliza holds her arms out to Anna. “Anna, would you like to hold baby Eliza?”
Anna: “Of course.” The baby exchange is made. “Oh My!” Anna exclaims upon realizing the weight of the almost toddler Eliza. “Eliza is getting so big now, Aunt Lucinda. However do you manage carrying her around?” She asks of her petite aunt.
Lady Lucinda: “That is simple …” Lady Lucinda smiles mischievously. “… by letting others hold her when I am tired. Ha ha ha!
David: “Ha ha ha!”
Anna: “Ha ha ha!”
Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine walk over to join them–each kissing Anna’s cheek.
Lady Katharine: “What is so funny, Lucy?” She asks with a smile.
Lady Lucinda: “Kathy, we were just remarking on the benefit of having extended family who can take turns holding a growing and heavy baby.” She nods her head at Eliza being held by Anna.
Lady Katharine: “Oh! Ha ha ha! Perhaps when my baby is Eliza’s age I will not mind sharing her. But when he or she is still very young, I cannot imagine having them out of my arms for more than a few moments.”
Anna winces and looks away–wondering how it is that everyone can be so interested in and focused upon the babies. Babies do not do much, they do not even talk, Anna thinks petulantly as she shifts the heavy baby Eliza in her arms and dodges Eliza from continuing to pat her face.
Lord Rafe: Lord Rafe blanches. “But my Angel, do you not think that there are some times when having a nanny take care of our child in its nursery would be welcome?” His voice smoulders deeply, conveying his seductive intent.
Lady Katharine: Looking at her husband askance–and rather obtusely not understanding his meaning regarding romance–she states succinctly. “No!”
Lord Rafe looks askance at his pregnant wife.
Sir Percival: Sir Percival walks up to the group as well and takes Lord Rafe aside. “Now do not fret, Rafe, and be patient. Kathy will eventually see the wisdom of having a nanny to help with the baby and to give her a rest.”
Lord Rafe: Turning to look back at his brother-in-law, he asks with a worried pout. “How long is eventually?”
Sir Percival: “About four months in my Dear Lucy’s case.” Sir Percival winces.
Lord Rafe: Turning back to face Sir Percival, Lord Rafe startles. “Four months!?! Without …?”
Sir Percival: “Ohhh! Nooo!” He shakes his head knowingly.
Lord Rafe: “Good! You had me worried there.” Lord Rafe rubs his chin as a self comforting mechanism.
Sir Percival: “Only two months until a wife might feel recovered enough to feel … wifely again.” Sir Percival pinkens, because he is essentially counseling his brother-in-law when he may expect to resume marital relations with his wife, Sir Percival’s sister, Lady Katharine, after the birth of their first child.
A chastened Lord Rafe turns to look at the happy face of his wife, Lady Katharine, while she pretends to tickle baby Eliza as Anna holds her. Lady Katharine looks up and smiles beatifically and chastely at her husband–he gulps audibly.
Then over the next hour, small groups of family are invited upstairs to baby Rosalind’s nursery to see her. With Lord Rafe, Lady Katharine, and Anna going last.
Lady Charmaine: “Kathy Ma Chere.” They kiss cheeks.
Lady Katharine: “Maman!”
Lady Charmaine:“Anna.” They kiss cheeks.
Lady Charmaine: “Rafe.” She smiles at her son-in-law. She is still a tad embarrassed that he was the one who actually delivered her baby last month and she blushes.
Lord Rafe: “Madam, you are enchanting as always.” He bows respectfully to his mother-in-law and lifts her outstretched hand to his lips for a kiss. He also pinkens in remembrance of the service he rendered her.
Lady Katharine: Rubbing her tummy, she says. “I am beginning to feel like a brood mare. Maman, were you this big at five months?” And Lady Katharine’s [(5) right] already ample bosoms are also straining her dress bodice.
Lady Charmaine: “No. But then, I am more petite than you are Ma Chere.” She looks amusingly jealous of nature’s gifts to her daughter.
Lord Rafe: “Sir Antony, Lady Charmaine. Our congratulations again!”
Sir Antony: “Thank you! Anna Dear, come meet your new Aunt.”
Lady Charmaine: “Rosalind is too little for anyone but myself to hold her.” Lady Charmaine states as more of a request than a fact. “But you may rub her tummy or hold her hand.”
Anna: “Thank you, Grandmere.” Anna gives her finger to the baby, who latches onto it happily.
Sir Antony: “Thank god that you are the last group to parade up here. I feel like a zoo animal–the cage is labeled, middle aged man as new father. Ha ha ha ha ha!”
Lord Rafe: “Ha ha ha ha ha!”
Lady Charmaine: “Now Antony, their interest is in the baby, not you.” She looks at him bemusedly. “But let us give baby Rosalind time to nap and join everyone down stairs for tea.” Lady Charmaine motions for her baby’s nanny to come in and sit with her child whilst she goes downstairs to attend to her guests.
And then a lovely hour of high tea is presided over by Lady Charmaine–with the men noshing hungrily and the women gabbing about babies happily. With Lady Katharine being the next to give birth in September, she receives the most attention as everyone fusses and fawns over her.
Anna smiles politely and nods at appropriate intervals, but she does not feel a part of the baby furor–her petulantly wondering what all the fuss is about. And in the back of dear Anna’s mind, the cacophony of Mama’s and Maman’s is wearing on her psyche–for Anna has no one to whom she may call Mama, and no one who pets and fawns over her as her late Mama Fanny did.
The next three months go by quickly with the early part of the London Season to keep everyone occupied. Then in early August 1827, Lord Rafe, Lady Katharine, and Anna travel to their Sea Grove estate near Maylandsea, Essex. They reacquaint themselves with newlyweds Fr. Robert Hatch and his wife Mrs. Cassie Hatch, and their daughter Beatrice–finding out joyfully that Cassie is expecting a baby in the new year. Of course Cassie Hatch and Lady Katherine Wingate have much to discuss about babies and birth with the now eight months pregnant Lady Katharine’s baby’s birth coming up next month in September.
And with Lord Rafe and Fr. Robert deepening their friendship talking about all manner of manly pursuits, Anna once again feels left out of conversations. Anna had hoped that their visit to Sea Grove Estate this Summer would be like their first visit a year ago–a bonding time for their little family to focus on each other, and to focus on Anna. But that is not what it is turning out to be. So the third night of their two week visit, Anna prays to God to help her get her Papa’s and her Kathy’s attention focused on her again.
The next day, they all decided to go sea bath bathing. Lady Katharine feels that because of the bouyancy of the water making her almost weightless, that it will relieve the pressure of her pregnancy weight from her sore back. Her ankles are not faring well either–swollen like sausages, she frets. But Lord Rafe lovingly attends to her comforts–because she is so uncomfortable. Lady Katharine is also more cumbersome and cannot walk or move around without assistance as well–in the water or out of it. But still willing to give it a go, the little Wingate family takes a carriage to the inlet bay [(6) right], then walks down to the beach for some swimming.
After a few moments of wading in the shallow end, Lady Katharine and Anna venture further into the inlet bay’s two foot deep waters so they are sitting neck deep in the cool waters as they chat–with Lady Katharine wearing Lord Rafe’s over large night shirt and drawers that fit her quite closely in her eight months pregnant state. Anna also wears her Uncle Percival’s boy hood under clothes as her swimming attire. Lord Rafe happily plunges into swimming around them off to the side–like the still boyish showoff he is–in his own underclothes swimming attire. Lady Katharine and Anna wave at him, but he does not notice–so gleeful is he to have the freedom of movement that swimming allows.
But a few minutes later, a strong wave hits Lady Katharine and Anna–knocking them off balance and swiftly carrying them to deeper waters and out toward the entrance of the inlet bay to the sea.
Anna: “Eeeeeeeeee!” Anna screams in terror as she grabs hold of a small reef to prevent her from being swept away.
Lady Katharine: “Eeeeeeeeeeee!” Lady Katharine screams as she also tries to grab hold of the reef. But she cannot grip onto it so Lady Katharine grabs Anna’s outstretched hand.
Anna tries to hold on to Lady Katharine, but the current is too strong and separates them. The water spins Lady Katharine around, disorienting her. And the wave threatens to carry Lady Katharine out to sea. This all happens within a matter of seconds.
Lady Katharine: “Ahhhhhhh! Help me!” Lady Katharine wails and thrashes about in the water. With her eight month pregnancy size, she is not able to swim at all—nor even float all that well. And she finds herself sinking under water, though she tries to tread water to stay afloat in the water’s depth that is just above her head. Lady Katharine can see the sunlight above her on the water’s surface, but she can’t seem to get there by swimming. Then she pushes off from the sea floor in a tremendous effort and makes one more series of leg kicks and she bursts through to the surface of the water, gasping for air.
Flailing her arms as she bobs up and down in the water, Anna screams to Lord Rafe, whose attention had been distracted.
Anna: “Papa! Papa! A wave took Kathy!” Anna swims to shore to see if there is a rope in the carriage.
Lord Rafe looks where Anna points behind him–seeing his wife Lady Katharine desperately clawing at the surface of the water. He does not think, he hurriedly reacts. And Lord Rafe quickly swims to Lady Katharine’s rescue before she is lost out to sea beyond their inlet bay. He holds her under her arms and with his other powerful arm and muscular leg kicks, he gets them to the shallow water near the beach and then they crawl onto the dry sand from there as they cough out some water that they had gulped in.
They are exhausted and the three of them all end up on their beach blanket in a heap crying in relief. Lord Rafe’s heart pounds with the exertion he made in swimming to Lady Katharine’s rescue and for the stress of the danger she and their unborn child were in.
Lord Rafe: “Oh My Angel! My Love! You are safe now!” He feverishly kisses his wife’s forehead and cheeks and lips as she lays in his arms like a limp doll, exhausted from her ordeal.
Lady Katharine: “Oh Rafe!” Lady Katharine whimpers tearfully in her husband’s tender embrace.
But Anna is crying the hardest of all of them.
Anna: “I am sorry! It is all my fault!” She blurts out through her sobbing.
Lord Rafe: “Anna, how can that be! How could Kate almost being swept out to sea be your fault? It was the wave’s fault. We will have to install some kind of a wave breaker to prevent this from happening again. Anna, you saved Kate’s life by calling to me to save her.”
Anna is fearful of telling them the truth–her truth.
Lord Rafe: “Anna? What is it?”
Anna: “Papa, with all the baby talk, I thought that you did not want me anymore because you will have your baby with Kathy. So I prayed to god that you would pay attention to me again and love me again–and maybe Kathy even be my Mama.” Then she turns tearfully to Lady Katharine. “But Kathy, I did not think how god might make that happen–that god might take you away from us or harm the baby.” Anna shakes her head in fear and she shrinks away from them as she sobs. “I am so sorry. I did not mean it to happen. Truly, I did not. I am not fit to be with you. I will go back to live with Grandmama now that you will have your own baby. It will be your child, Kathy and Papa–as I am not.” Anna sobs forlornly as she covers her face with her hands.
Lord Rafe: “Oh Anna!” He gazes upon his wailing daughter with the utmost of tender concern. Lord Rafe realizes clearly now, that though Anna is growing up, she is still just a child with needs that are not being met.
Lady Katharine: Looking at Anna with new eyes full of tears, Lady Katharine weakly opens her arms wide and says breathily. “Anna, you are my child, my daughter–I have thought so from the first. But I did not want to intrude upon your grief for your Mama Fanny. But if you will call me Mama, I will be very happy.”
Anna hesitates and whimpers.
Lady Katharine: “Anna Sweetheart, come to me please.” Lady Katharine beckons pleadingly and Anna rushes into her arms. “There, there, my Sweetheart. I am your Mama from this day forward.” Lady Katharine kisses Anna’s forehead as she rocks her.
Lord Rafe: “I am sorry, Anna. We have been so focused upon getting ready for this baby that we did not realize that we were neglecting you. You are our daughter–nothing will ever change that. You are our first child.” Lord Rafe [(7) right] looks soulfully at his daughter.
Anna: “I am?” She sniffles.
Lady Katharine: “Yes, Anna Sweetheart. And you are going to be this baby’s older sister. And that comes with many responsibilities. This boy or girl baby who will be born will be your brother or sister. They will love you and look up to you–as much or more as little Lottie looks up to you now like a big sister, even though you are cousins. She is smitten with you, and so shall this baby be. How could this baby not love you? For you, Anna, are the dearest sweetest girl whom we know and love. And your Papa and I are honored to be your parents.” Then Lady Katharine gives a look to Lord Rafe and he nods. “And your Papa and I have been discussing for some time now that if we can pry you away from your Grandmama Leonora, we want you to come live primarily with us from now on.”
Lord Rafe: “Would you like to come live with us, Anna?” He smiles hopefully as he caresses his daughter’s cheek.
Lady Katharine: “Though you will certainly still visit your Grandmama Leonora and your Grandmere Charmaine as much as you wish.”
Anna: “Mama!” Anna cries anew as she embraces Lady Katharine gratefully. But these are happy tears now.
Lord Rafe: “My Loves!” Lord Rafe encloses his wife and daughter in his embrace.
Anna now knows that she has a family that is her own, her Papa and her new Mama–with a new baby brother or sister coming soon to expand their little family.
After Lord Rafe gently carries Lady Katharine to the carriage after her almost being drowned, he and Anna drive her back to Sea Grove Cottage. They have had enough swimming for one day. And Lady Katharine needs her rest–which she takes for the rest of the morning. And Lord Rafe and Anna have their planned outdoor picnic lunch in Lady Katharine’s bedchamber instead–with her staying in bed to rest and trying to get comfortable.
It is only in the afternoon, when Cassie Hatch and and her now 13 month old daughter Beatrice come to visit that Lady Katharine perks up a bit. Lord Rafe escorts Cassie upstairs and then leaves to attend to finding some barrier to prevent further swimming mishaps. Cassie finds Lady Katharine in bed with Anna snuggling next to her and reading her one of Aesop’s Fables.
Cassie: “Oh Kathy! What an ordeal you had! Rafe told me.” They kiss cheeks. Then Cassie deposits Beatrice on the bed and Cassie sits at Lady Katharine’s feet–rubbing her sore and swollen ankles.
Lady Katharine: “Oh Cassie! It is so good to see you!” She sighs breathily. “But for Anna and Rafe, I might be floating in seaweed right now.” She states impishly, belying the gravity of the situation this morning.
Cassie: “Do not jest about such a thing as dying, Kathy.” Cassie crosses herself superstitiously–as do Lady Katharine and Anna.
Anna: “It was so scary. I could not have faced losing you, too, Mama.” Anna buries her face into Lady Katharine’s neck and cries.
Cassie raises her eyebrow at Anna’s use of address of Mama for Lady Katharine, when Anna had always called her Kathy in Cassie’s presence before. Lady Katharine nods at her friend Cassie, even as she stroke’s Anna’s hair and soothes her.
Cassie: “Kathy? Are you in pain?” Cassie [(8) right] asks in concern–remembering her own final days of pregnancy last year.
Lady Katharine: “My back hurts. I think I must have twisted it when I was desperately trying to swim up to the surface of the water.” Lady Katharine flinches again. “Ohh!” Cassie looks at her friend curiously. “Anna, would you ask Mrs. Smith to prepare a hot water bottle for me? And please ask your Papa to come help me visit the bath room commode.” Lady Katharine has no unnecessary modesty around her friend Cassie.
Cassie strokes Beatrice’s back as she sits quietly playing on the bed with her stuffed bear. And a thought occurs to her.
Rafe arrives a few minutes ahead of the promised hot water bottle. He instantly goes to her side in her bed.
Lord Rafe: “How are you feeling, My Angel? Anna says your back hurts?”
Lady Katharine: “Yes. But right now, I need to visit the bathroom commode. All that sea water has made me feel quite flooded with water.”
Cassie: “Uh huh.” Cassie says noncommittally.
Lord Rafe helps Lady Katharine stand up from the bed onto the plush bedside rug. But before he can lift his wife up into his arms to carry her to the bath room, Lady Katharine’s water breaks–all down her legs and onto the bedside rug.
Lady Katharine: “Oh!” She startles in astonishment.
Lord Rafe: “Ah! No matter my dear. We will have a servant clean that up.” He says considerately.
Lady Katharine: “No! I mean, yes. But that wasn’t me. I still have to go use the commode.”
Lord Rafe: “What?”
Cassie: “Rafe, I think Kathy’s water just broke. She is beginning her birthing trials.” She explains.
Lord Rafe’s and Lady Katharine’s eyes go wide.
Lady Katharine: She looks stricken at her friend’s suggestion. “But it is too soon!”
Cassie: “Babies come when they want to, Kathy.” She tries to say nonchalantly to ease her friend’s mind.
Anna arrives with the hot water bottle for her Mama and hears her Papa exclaim.
Lord Rafe: “Oh my! We are having our baby now?”
Anna drops the hot water bottle in astonishment–its cork pop off and warm water spreads onto the nice rug.
Anna: “Oh! I am so sorry!” She kneels to pick up the bottle to stop more water from spilling out.
Lady Katharine: “Water leakage must be a family trait.” Lady Katharine observes wryly. “Rafe, the bath room commode, please?”
Lord Rafe: “Right!” He nods. Then he turns to their guest. “Cassie? Is there a midwife or doctor in town?”
Cassie: “Yes! I will send for them and for Robert.”
Lady Katharine: “Do you think that the baby and I are in danger and need a priest, Cassie?”
Cassie: “Not at all. He is my husband and will want to be here as a friend.” She assuages her friend’s concern. Then Cassie hands baby Beatrice to Anna. “I will be right back after having Mrs. Smith send for the doctor and my husband. Kathy, this is so exciting! You are going to have your baby today!”
Lord Rafe: “A baby! And remember, Louisa gave birth early, too. And everything was just fine.” He smiles lovingly at his wife.
Lady Katharine looks up at her husband lovingly for his assurances.
Lady Katharine: “Yes, Rafe. But will you please take me to the bath room now? I really need to use the commode.” Like her Mama, Lady Charmaine, Lady Katharine’s needs should not be kept waiting to be fulfilled–or unfilled at this moment.
Lord Rafe: “Of course, of course. Anna, you stand guard with little Beatrice, we will be back soon.” He lifts his wife up into his arms and does her bidding.
Anna nods. She is excited for her Mama’s baby to come–for it will be her little brother or sister. Though Anna secretly hopes that the baby will be a girl baby to fuss over and to play with–they can have a baby boy later. She grins impishly.
After changing Lady Katharine’s nightgown to a shorter one for birthing in, and a servant cleaning up the mess left by her water breaking–Lady Katharine tries to get comfortable in bed. Though her birthing pains begin to come at regular intervals–so comfort, is not achievable. And over the next hour, the troops as Lord Charles Wingate might refer to them, begin arriving at Sea Grove Estate Cottage–with everyone being assembled by 4pm.
Fr. Robert Hatch holding baby Beatrice and Lord Rafe wait anxiously sipping their tea and noshing on cakes in the sitting room parlor for word on Lady Katharine’s progress. Meanwhile, Anna, Cassie, Mrs. Smith, Dr. Blount, and Mrs. Blount, the doctor’s wife/midwife are arranged in a haphazard circle around Lady Katharine’s bed.
The physician, an older man with grey hair–and his wife, the similarly aged Mrs. Blount serving as the midwife–attend to Lady Katharine. They feel for her pulse–steady. They feel her forehead for her temperature–warm, not clammy. They listen at her heart–finding it beating fast, but not overly so given that she is in her birthing trials. And they listen at her rather large belly–where they hear a disjointed heart beat, tah dah, tah dah.
This strange heartbeat worries the doctor–though he does not let on to Lady Katharine to keep from alarming her. Lord Rafe had told him of Lady Katharine’s near drowning earlier today and the doctor worries that Lady Katharine’s exertions might have unduly stressed the baby in her womb. Her giving birth a month early is another indication to him of that stress. So, if the doctor has to, he can deliver the baby by performing surgery upon Lady Katharine–called a caesarean surgery [(9)]. But with no means of making her unconscious for the operation, it will feel like torture–and she might not survive it, let alone the infection that often follows large wounds. More than half the mothers die [(9)]. It will be a measure of last resort–only if needed to save the life of the mother or her child.
Several more hours pass, with Lord Rafe continually checking on the condition of his wife–barging into her bed chamber as his brother-in-law Sir John had done his his sister Lady Louisa gave birth last Christmas time. It is on Lord Rafe’s last visit to see how his wife is faring that things begin to progress rapidly. Fr. Robert also joins them, handing off a fidgety baby Beatrice to her Mama, Cassie.
Lord Rafe: Cradling Lady Katharine in his arms, he caresses her cheek and kisses her forehead. “My Angel, you look so exhausted.” He blurts out worriedly.
Lady Katharine: “Rafe, I do not know if I can go on.” Then Lady Katharine’s body is wracked with pain again and she grips Lord Rafe’s hand. “Ahhhhh! Help me, Rafe!” She asks pleadingly.
Lord Rafe: “Doctor? Is there anything we can do for her comfort and to speed the birth?”
Dr. Blount: “She has been in hard labor only a little over six hours. Things are as expected. Hmmm.” But he hesitates and Lord Rafe notices. They exchange glances.
Lord Rafe: “Kate, I will be right back. I want to see if the doctor has any suggestions for your comfort and ease.”
Lady Katharine nods weakly. Anna slides back into bed with her Mama and soothingly holds her hand.
As Lord Rafe and Dr. Blount stand at the other end of the bed chamber, they discuss the situation.
Lord Rafe: “Dr. Blount, tell me truthfully. How is my wife doing?”
Dr. Blount: “Things are as expected, as I said. But … the baby has an irregular heartbeat and is in distress of some kind.”
Lord Rafe: Gripped with fear, he asks. “What does that mean? Will the baby die? Will my wife die?”
Dr. Blount: “Now now. It is not as bad as that, yet. But if she does not deliver her baby in the next hour, I think I must act.”
Lord Rafe: “What are you saying? What can you do?”
Dr. Blount: “I might need to perform surgery upon Lady Katharine to deliver her baby.” Lord Rafe recoils in shock. “It is only done when the life of the mother or the child is at stake. But they could both still die even with the operation.” He says gravely.
Lord Rafe: “My god!”
Dr. Blount: “I have to ask you. If it comes down to a choice and I can only save one of them–your wife or your baby–whom should it be?”
Lord Rafe: “You have to save both of them!” He whispers stridently so Lady Katharine will not hear them. How can Lord Rafe choose between his child–perhaps a son and heir–and his beloved wife? But the doctor stares at him for an answer. Reluctantly, Lord Rafe makes his choice. “Save her. Dear god, help me–and pray that Kate forgives me. But save my wife.” Lord Rafe weeps into his hands with his back turned to the bed so no one can see him sob.
But Fr. Robert notices Lord Rafe’s hunched shoulders and tense posture while talking to the doctor and he walks over to them.
Lord Rafe: Looking up at his new friend with tears in his eyes, Lord Rafe [(10) right] requests. “Pray, Fr. Robert. Pray that god will grant us life this day, and not burden us with death.”
Fr. Robert looks stricken and pats Lord Rafe’s shoulders consolingly. Then Fr. Robert looks at the doctor.
Dr. Blount: “Fr. Hatch, despite my learning and years of experience, some things are in god’s hands.”
Fr. Robert: “Then I pray that god gives us a miracle today. And I also pray god gives you, good doctor, wisdom in your medical care of Lady Katharine.”
Dr. Blount: “Thank you. I fear that I will need it.”
The next hour is a trial of Lady Katharine’s already weakened body being wracked with more birthing pains as everyone helplessly stands to the side. Then, the doctor signals Lord Rafe.
Dr. Blount: “The baby must be stuck. It is time, I think.” He says reluctantly–knowing either the mother or child, or maybe both–will not survive the operation.
Dr. Rafe: “No! Not yet!”
Lady Katharine: “Do what you have to do to save my baby, doctor.” She says weakly, knowing intuitively that more pain and suffering for her will come next–but feeling strangely at peace with it.
Lord Rafe becomes desperate. He rises from lying beside his pale wife and makes one last attempt to save his wife as he jumps out of bed and pulls her out of bed as well to stand flush with him–not thinking of her modesty in her short birthing nightgown, as everyone politely and sadly looks away. Though Lady Katharine is not standing, she is being held up by her husband like a limp rag doll.
Lord Rafe: “Kate, My Love, You must try, My Angel! Like your Mama did. On the next pain, push as hard as you can! Then our baby will be born and you can rest.”
Tears are streaming down both Lord Rafe’s and Lady Katharine’s cheeks.
Lady Katharine: “I am sorry.” She faints against his chest.
Lord Rafe: “No! Kate, do not leave me!” Lord Rafe kisses his wife adoringly, then he makes his own plea to god. “Lord let me see my wife safely delivered of our child and then you can take me. But let them live!” Fr. Hatch makes the sign of the cross over them.
Everyone in the room is crying. Cassie is hugging Anna, who is bereft of losing Lady Katharine as her Mama so soon.
Dr. Blount: “Lord Rafe! Please lay your wife down again. For her comfort.” He adds–and Lord Rafe acquiesces.
But in being held upright and then jostled slightly by her husband, something shifts within Lady Katharine’s womb. And almost as soon as she is laid down again, but slightly propped up against her pillows while she is still in a faint, her baby is born.
Dr. Blount: Seeing this, the doctor acts quickly. “Move!” The doctor pushes Lord Rafe out of the way and he pulls the small baby fully out of the womb. It does not cry. So he rubs the baby’s chest. But he still does not cry. “You have a tiny son, but he will not breathe.”
Lord Rafe: “Help him!” Lord Rafe cries out in panic.
Dr. Blount: But the doctor shakes his head in sorrow. “There is nothing I can do. I am sorry.” The doctor starts to fold a blanket over the baby’s face.
Cassie: “No!” Cassie rushes forward and lifts the small baby into her arms–disregarding its bloody state and wraps a blanket more closely around the baby to keep it warm.
Fr. Robert: Fr. Robert lays his hand upon the baby’s head and gives a blessing. “Lord, keep this little one safe. It is too young to be one of your angels just yet. But if it is to be so, then welcome him into your kingdom.”
Cassie: She kisses the baby and speaks directly into its face. “Breathe, little one, breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe!”
And with her force of expelling air as she says the word breathe several times, air is forced into the baby’s nose and mouth. The baby coughs up a wad of spit onto Cassie’s shoulder and starts to wail.
Baby boy: “Waaa! Waa! Waaaaa! Waaaa!”
Everyone startles at the birthing cry they had not thought they would hear.
Lord Rafe: “My son! Thank you!” Lord Rafe sighs to Cassie as he caresses his son’s head as Cassie holds him. Then he turns to the doctor. “My wife, doctor. Is she alright?”
In the commotion of the baby being born and not being able to get it to breathe at first, everyone had forgotten about Lady Katharine. But hearing the baby cry wakens her.
Lady Katharine: “My baby? Is that my baby?” She looks around and Cassie brings Lady Katharine her son.
Cassie: “You have a son, Kathy!” She steps back and finds a cloth to wipe the baby’s birthing residue from her person as best as she can. Cassie is just glad that the baby alive.
Lord Rafe: “Oh my darling, we have a son!” He leans down and kisses Lady Katharine’s forehead. Lady Katharine smiles weakly at him and kisses the top of her baby’s head.
Baby Boy: “Waaa! Waaa!”
Lord Rafe: Then Lord Rafe reaches out and calls to his daughter. “Anna Sweetheart, come see your baby brother.”
Anna dries her eyes with her hands as she walks forward into her Papa’s embrace.
Anna: “We were so worried, Mama.”
Dr. Blount: “Hhhhh!” He sighs in relief. “Mrs. Blount will tend to the baby and clean it up while I tend to Lady Katharine. We will have need for some privacy. So if all but her husband would leave, please.”
Lord Rafe: As Anna starts to go, Lord Rafe pulls her back to him. “Our daughter, Anna, stays.” The doctor nods.
After everyone files out of Lady Katharine’s bed chamber, the doctor turns his attention to Lady Katharine. And it is good that he does so.
Lady Katharine: “I feel another pain.” Then she asks in alarm. “Am I alright?”
Dr. Blount: Dr. Blount quickly looks down below and spies the reason for her pain. “You are having another baby, Lady Katharine.”
Lord Rafe: “What?”
Lady Katharine: “Aaaaaaaaaagh!” She yells, and this baby pops out without much effort.
Dr. Blount: “It is a girl!”
Baby Girl: “Waaa! Waaa! Waaaaa!” The baby cries as Dr. Blount lays her across Lady Katharine’s belly while he cuts the cord.
Dr. Blount: “Your son must have turned wrong in your womb and blocked the birth canal. And with the second baby, there was not any room for him to move into position as needed. But when Lord Rafe picked you up, it shifted the position of the babies and everything turned out alright.”
Lady Katharine: “We have twins!” She sighs breathily as Mrs. Blount lays her son in Lord Rafe’s arms and then she takes their baby daughter to be cleaned and swaddled.
Anna: “I have a baby sister and a baby brother!” She claps her hands together with glee.
Lord Rafe: “Anna, go let Cassie and Fr. Robert know and ask them to come in here–so that he can bless this baby as well.” Lord Rafe kisses his son’s head, then carefully transfers him to his Mama’s waiting arms.
Anna: “Yes Papa! Oh Mama! You were so brave. Thank you for giving me a brother and a sister!” She smiles joyfully as she kisses her Mama’s forehead.
Lady Katharine: She nods and smiles as Anna leaves. “Rafe, our baby daughter is so big compared to our son here.” She says in astonishment.
Lord Rafe: “But, he is just as loud when he cries. Ha ha ha!” And Lord Rafe thinks that he will teach their son to walk, and to run, and to ride ponies, and to fly kites. And their baby daughter will be the most pampered little girl there ever was–since he missed being able to do that for Anna when she was little.
Dr. Blount: “Yes, he is a bit small. His sister took up more room in your womb and crowded him out. But he will catch up in size over the next year or so.” The doctor says sagely as he wipes his brow in relief. “Lady Katharine, you have had a stressful birth. And I fully expect you to stay in bed the next week or two. Let your husband carry you to the bath room and back. Then maybe in three weeks, I will allow you down stairs–but Lord Rafe must still carry you.”
Lord Rafe: “Gladly! I am her loving husband.” Lord Rafe leans down and kisses his wife tenderly on her lips for several minutes.
Dr. Blount: “Kkkhhh! About that, you will want to refrain from marital relations for at least a month or more to give time for Lady Katharine to recover.”
Lord Rafe Nods sheepishly as Mrs. Blount hands him their daughter swaddled in a blanket.
Then lead by Anna, an excited Cassie holding baby Beatrice and Fr. Robert walk back into Lady Katharine’s bed chamber to meet her baby daughter, too.
Cassie: “Oh Kathy and Rafe! She is beautiful!”
Lord Rafe: “Cassie, we are your debt for saving our son’s life. Thank you!”
Lady Katharine: “What?” She asks worriedly since she was in a faint at the time.
Lord Rafe: “He was not breathing, My Angel. And Cassie kept exhorting him to breathe, and then he did. It was a miracle!” He looks over at Fr. Robert. “Will you bless our daughter, too?”
Fr. Robert: “Of course.” With a beaming smile of relief on his face, Fr. Robert [(11) right] gently lays his hand upon, the little girl’s head. “Lord, watch over this little girl. Keep her safe from harm as she grows up and follows a godly life.” Then as Fr. Robert gleefully rubs his hands together, he jests to Lady Katharine and Lord Rafe. “And you know, I have discount rates for celebrating two baptisms at once.”
Everyone laughs: “Ha ha ha!”
Cassie gives her husband a playful hug.
Anna: Smiling contentedly at her new baby brother and baby sister, Anna asks her parents. “Mama, and Papa? Do the babies have names yet?”
Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine gaze impishly at each other, then smile.
Lord Rafe: With a bemusedly raised eyebrow, Lord Rafe replies. “Anna Sweetheart, we will have to reflect upon that.”
To be continued with Chapter 33
1) “Love is a Choice” story logo is a composite image comprised of:
a) Gold wedding gown (cropped to fabric of skirt) found at http://0.tqn.com/d/honeymoons/1/0/C/w/belle2.jpg
b) Oval picture frames were found at http://www.inlineovals.com/product_images/q/675/602agp__91104_zoom.jpg
c) Image (cropped, masked, brightened, color) representing Lord Rafe Wingate is that of Richard Armitage as John Thornton in North & South (BBC, 2004) episode 2, picture 66 was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode2/ns2-066.jpg
d) Image (cropped, masked, brightened, color) representing Lady Katharine Wingate is that of Carla Gugino as Nan St. George in “The Buccaneers” (1995), Episode 1 vlcsnap-ooh09m21s203 Mar1313 Gratiana Lovelace screencap (my cap)
2) Anna as a pensive 12 year old image is a young girl portrait by Sophie Anderson found at http://www.paintingall.com/sophie-anderson-young-girl.html
3) Lord Rafe image is Richard Armitage as John Thornton in the BBC’s 2004 North & South as found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode2/ns2-093.jpg
4) David Harriott image is of Raymond Coulthard as Frank Churchill in Emma 1996 May1913austenitisblogspot was found at
5) Lady Katharine Image (cropped) is Carla Gugino as Nan St. George in The Buccaneers (1995), vlcsnap10m52s195 Mar1313GratianaLovelaceCap
6) Sea Grove Cottage Inlet Bay is from The Buccaneers 1995 vlcsnap-08h57m03s89 May2613 Gratiana Lovelace Cap crp-shrp
7) A wet Lord Rafe image is of Richard Armitage for a 2007 Promo pix found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Richard/Promos/2007%20Promo/ChrisFloyd07.jpg
8) Image of Mrs. Cassandra Hatch is that of Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette in the 2006 film of the same name and was found at http://www.thefancarpet.com/uploaded_assets/images/gallery/2338/Marie_Antoinette_33546_Medium.jpg ; for more information about the film,visit http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0422720/?ref_=sr_2
10) Lord Rafe Image is Richard Armitage as John Thornton in North & South (2004) episode 2, pix 232 found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode2/ns2-232.jpg
11) Image (cropped) for Fr. Robert Hatch is of Matthew MacFadyen as Mr. Darcy in the 2005 film Pride and Prejudice and was found at http://images4.fanpop.com/image/photos/20700000/Matthew-Macfadyen-as-Darcy-mr-darcy-20707313-1600-900.jpg
“Love is a Choice”, Previous Story Link to Ch. 31 is: https://gratianads90.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/love-is-a-choice-ch-31-pg-13-babies-part-1-july-29-2013-gratiana-lovelace-post-432/