Consequences - Chapter 28
Charles' Diary September, continued
Today pleasant weather; breakfasted at 7. Appointment with Fredrick Boyce at 7 p.m. after work. I steeled myself, took a deep breath, and I told him the entire situation. He at first didn’t believe me, but having called in the midwife, she confirmed what I said. He became livid. The midwife said that she had only made the suggestion, that the decision had been ours & I had to agree with that. Fredrick very upset and angry. But he has agreed that we shall have baby Mary back. I told him where his daughter was buried. He threatens legal action. But at least it is now done and baby Mary is back with us where she belongs. My conscience can rest easy again.
We now have baby Mary here with us in Rainbow Cottage. Charles could stand it no longer, and against my wishes went to Mary Ann and Fredrick yesterday and told them the truth. Fredrick is very angry. He is talking about legal action over the situation. We didn’t steal their dead baby, but only pretended it was ours and buried it. I hope he will reconsider.
They had no choice but to allow Charles to bring our baby home, now over three weeks old. Charles found out the name of a wet nurse who can come to help us from the midwife. This young woman, whose name is Ella, lost her own baby. She will come in to feed Mary every four hours, between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. My milk dried up shortly after the birth so I would not be able to feed her, even if I had wanted to, but the idea revolts me. Why am I such an unnatural mother? Before she was born I had quite fond feelings for her but now I don’t feel like she is anything to do with me at all. I can barely look at her.
Charles went to see his cousin Harry, who has a two year old daughter called Eliza, and has his Aunt Mary Ann staying with them as well. Of course he had to tell them that our baby was born early and that we hadn’t expected it so were not prepared. He borrowed the necessary clothes and equipment that they still had. What was not available, he bought. Charles did all the things that mothers normally due before their babies are born.
I can’t feel anything for Mary. I hold her and try to love her, but all I feel is annoyance that things couldn’t have worked out better for us. Charles loves her and makes up for my lack of attention.
I have been reading all the books I can find on childcare, as I have never had any to do before. I have summarised what I think are the main points for new babies.
1. Guard her against accidents likely to create a disturbance to her sleep. Be judicious in feeding, warmth and cleanliness; Guarding against fatigue.
2. Put the child to bed after feeding whether asleep or not. Do not let the baby fall asleep in the nurse’s arms.
3. The bedding must be dry and comfortable.
4. Physical exertion such as jogging the baby on the knee should not be contemplated until the baby can support his own head.
5. All cries should not be assumed come from craving for food. It could be due to irritation such as cold feet, pressure of clothing, wet linen, a flea or other discomfort.
6. If signs of griping pains or colic be evident, less food should be given and the interval between meals lengthened.
7. If mother’s milk is insufficient, it is advisable to give a supplement of fresh cow’s milk – from one cow – with an equal amount of warm water with 1 teaspoonful of sugar. You should not give thickened food to infants at too tender an age.
8. The baby should be nourished on milk alone until the first tooth has appeared. Even after that milk should be given for a considerable time as the staple article of food.
9. After each meal the baby should be lifted across the nurse’s left shoulder, whether awake or asleep, and gently patting the infant’s back until the wind displaced by food is thrown off the stomach.
Such a lot to learn and so much responsibility. I must have someone to help me.
Our routine has certainly changed with the advent of Mary into our family. Ella comes promptly at 6 a.m. We are usually awake by that time anyway, so that is no problem. She feeds Mary, changes her and puts her back down to sleep. It seems no time at all when it is 10 a.m. and she is knocking on the door once more. Ella is a sweet girl, but not very bright; not that that interferes with her doing what she is paid to do. Charles gives her threpence per day, which is more than she could earn at a normal job, but her life is very disrupted by the trips to our house. She seems thrilled with having contact with our Mary, and displays all the true maternal feelings that I lack. I envy her, but that doesn’t make maternal feelings appear.
She comes again at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. and then at 10 p.m. which I must admit is later than we normally go to bed. Charles walks her home after the last feed, as we would feel unhappy at her walking alone in the dark. She lives about five minutes away.
Because baby Mary needs attention other than at feeding times, and I find that I do not have the expected feelings for the baby that mothers are supposed to have, we must hire a nurse to care for her or she will be very deprived. Charles has agreed that we can afford it. Charles has just managed to get hold of a new book called Household Management, Part 1, and in it, Mrs. Beaton says that people who are in our income range should be able to afford a serving girl, which she says we should pay between £5 and 10 for a nursery maid per annum, and/or a kitchen maid who should have from £8 – 12. The amounts she stipulated includes that the employer should also make an allowance of tea, sugar and beer.
I enjoyed reading her book, although I don’t feel much like a manager of my own household. I copied out one of the first paragraphs.
As with the Commander of an army, or the leader of any enterprise, so it is with the mistress of a house. Her spirit will be seen through the whole establishment; and just in proportion as she performs her duties gently and thoroughly, so will her domestics follow in her path.
Charles has now hired a servant, who will live in and have the care of Mary for most of the time. I am so relieved that I don’t need to give her constant care. I am much happier doing the housekeeping things. There is so much to do at this time with preserving the fruits and vegetables from the garden. Perhaps I will stop crying so much now.
I must take up the challenge of Mrs. Beaton and become a good housekeeper, and organise my daughter’s life by giving rules to our new children's nurse. I have copied down the important rules, so that I will have them to hand when I next interview her.
We have yet to find out the reaction of our friends and neighbours to the unexpected birth of our child. I so much miss Mary Ann but I doubt if she will ever speak to me again.
I enjoy the company of our new servant Sarah Hallory who is 17 and from Virgin Tavern Road. She was recommended by Charles’ Aunt Walker, who often stays with her son Harry to help take care of her grandchild, Eliza, now that her mother has died. Sarah is short and plump and very chatty with tangled golden curls that make me quite envious. We have made a little bedroom for her in what was a storage space off the baby’s bedroom. It is small, but at home she shared with four others, so she is pleased to have a room of her own, however tiny. We moved the tiny cot with the straw mattress into it and there is just room for a chair as well.
I have said she should have two uniforms in grey with four white aprons, and I will sew them for her if she wishes. I enjoy sewing and it will give me something to keep my mind occupied.
Sarah seems delighted to have baby Mary in her charge. She said, “I will give Mary her first and last feeds each day from a feeding bottle, and that will make it easier for Ella and save you and your husband from staying awake longer than you wish to at night.”
Before she leaves at 6 p.m. Ella expresses some milk into a cup, which Sarah then puts in the feeding bottle. It seems to work well so far. When Mary cries in the early morning, Sarah gives her warmed sugar water. We thought it best if Ella comes earlier now for the first feed, so she is coming at 8 a.m. and then at 1 p.m. and the final feed from her is at 6 p.m. If Mary fusses between times, Sarah can always give her more sugar water. But Mary is a remarkably unfussy baby.
We have given Sarah Saturday afternoon as her half day off. She was very pleased with that, as she is courting and will be able to see more of her sweetheart. She will get one full day off each month, the 3rd Sunday of the month, so that means that she will have been here almost a month before it occurs. I am pleased that Charles agreed to this arrangement, which I made with the plan in mind of him doing much of the care for Mary when Sarah is not here. I have no interest in caring for her, and realise what an unnatural mother that makes me. Such a weight has been lifted from me, but still I sit and weep for seemingly hours at a time.
Between us Sarah and I have made a list of which tasks will fall to her and which I will do. She will be a combined nurse/maid and it is important that she is clear what is her responsibility.
1. She will change, feed and generally care for the baby. As the baby gets older, this will entail taking her in the perambulator for a walk each day.
2. She will keep the nursery, her room, and our room tidy, which will include making up fires, making beds, emptying chamber pots, daily dusting, and weekly cleaning of carpets and windows.
3. She will be responsible for washing Mary’s clothes and her own apart from the bedding, which I will include with my washing on Mondays.
4. In her free time when Mary is sleeping, she can make spills and cut and lace papers for the water closet.
5. She will deal with the mending of Mary’s and her own clothes as needed.
I oversee Mary’s care – but I let Sarah deal with dressing her and changing and such like. I have not yet ventured out without Charles since her birth and I am loathe to do so. I don’t know how I would handle the scorn of the neighbours who I thought were my friends, and so I don’t want to put it to the test. If Charles gets home from work early, he always takes Mary on his lap and cuddles and plays with her for half an hour or so while I am getting our food on the table. So often lately, however, he has been coming home quite late due to pressure at work, or so he says.
Charles Diary - continued
While meeting with the midwife, I managed to get from her the name of a wet-nurse who we could hire to feed the baby. I then approached this young girl, recently having lost her own infant & offered her 3d a day to come to our house to feed baby Mary at four hourly intervals. Emma has been involved in our lives since yesterday evening. Mary was so upset by my actions that she refused to have anything to do with it. I had to go to Harry & borrow his daughter’s cot & various necessary items of clothing. I had to explain to them that our child has arrived early. They were very supportive, as they might well be as Harry had a similar problem of his own not too long ago.
Letter from Jones from London who is enjoying himself he says; tho I don't know how, seeing he has not been to any of the sights. At Grainger’s, got Dumas ‘Disputed Inheritance’ out to read. In the evening I held baby Mary for a short time. She is very tiny & very sweet. Emma comes to feed her & changes her & in between Mary does not even look at her. She washes her clothes & cleans the room, but that is as far as motherhood has drawn her.
Quiet Saturday, nothing bought at the Corn Market; no business whatever transacted; farmers groaning piteously & offering wheat at any price almost; strange that God's bounty causes man's complaints. Going home this evg, met Adelaide who was rather cool. Mary & I decided we must have a servant who will have the care of Mary in the times between her feeds. Harry recommended a girl who lives near them. I have interviewed her & she will start on Monday.
Letter to Father telling that our baby is born – also to Mary’s parents. They don’t need to know the circumstances that we have gone through over the past month. Walked by the river to the Bridge & up to Boughton after dinner & had tea there.
New nurse/ household servant started today – Sarah Hallory. Mary seems quite taken with her. Such a relief to know that baby Mary will be cared for while I am at work. Had walk about the town after work. Dark stormy night.
Feel more at ease now that Sarah is living with us. Baby Mary continues to do well. She is a very good baby with little fussing or crying. Sent Harry samples of paper for the new MSS mag Pens, Ink & Paper; I began an article on Amateur Theatricals but have but little time or inclination to give to it & can't get on with it. At Grainger’s took Dumas’ ‘Disputed Inheritance’ back - a strange but readable book; got 2nd book of Cumming's Hunting in South Africa which is a wonderful book in its way, giving evidence of the existence of the old hunting spirit of Minrod in its pristine vigour; Minrod never dreamt of the slaughter one man could make among the mighty monsters of Africa as Cumming's does.
Letter from Uncle Clephan at London saying he shall transact the business in London which he expected would bring him to B'ham, so we shall not see him. No more from Fredrick Boyce, so am I am hoping he has decided against legal action.
Letter from Aunt Wilson regarding Mary & new baby. She says we must not let our circumstances embarrass us to keep from visiting with family. She promises her support. Long letter from Aunt & Uncle Cox had arrived in York on a visit to Uncle Charles who was in London & had heard of our baby’s birth; wrote a long one in reply on the same topics. Richard came up to our house with food thinking Mary might not be up to cooking. Indoors on Tuesday evening; finished Cumming's Hunting Book. Jones returned from London not having gone beyond there; finding it so agreeable.