Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Elizabeth Thornton

Margaret's charcoal sketch of me and Bessy

My Darling Daughter

When I discovered that Margaret was with child, I was ecstatic; we both where. My happiness was soon overshadowed however when in the latter months Margaret began to have problems. First her fingers began to swell to the extent that she had to remove her wedding ring (using lots of butter butter) because it was becoming painful. She also suffered a few nosebleeds and headaches but she insisted that she was fine.
I believed her, until she collapsed one day.
Doctor Donaldson said that she was in danger of developing a condition known as eclampsia and that if her condition got any worse, she may begin to have fits that often proved fatal. He advised complete bed rest, no worry and a bland diet until the child was born.

Needless to say, Margaret was not happy about this; she does not like being idle. I perhaps did not help matters by not informing her of the true danger that she was in since I did not what to worry her and I will admit now that in my desire to protect her, what I actually ended up doing was isolating her.
Thankfully Bessy arrived a few weeks early, for had Margaret been forced to endure my restrictions for much longer, she might well have killed me!
Due to her condition, Doctor Donaldson opted to deliver the baby with forceps, putting Margaret to sleep with chloroform so that she did not exert herself too much and by some miracle, our baby was born healthy and her mother quickly recovered from her ordeal.
I wasn't allowed to be in the room so I paced outside the door. Mother and Dixon stayed with her and both ladies were kind enough to come and see me regularly and let me know how Margaret was doing. When I heard that first cry, propriety be damned, I went in. Dixon was washing the baby while Mother sat by Margaret, waiting for her to awaken. I managed a quick cuddle with the baby and a brief word with Margaret when she awoke, before I was ushered out once more while Margaret fed the baby.
Margaret with Bessy
I felt so strange, so tired from worry (not to mention having been awake all night) and overwhelmed with emotion that I was almost numb. Firstly I felt relief beyond imagination. Since Doctor Donaldson had told me that Margaret would recover quickly not that the baby had been born. I also felt so proud, both of my child and my wife. My baby was so perfect, so beautiful and my Margaret had made her for me. Finally, I also felt overwhelmed for I feared that in some way I would fail my girls, and I could not bear that idea.
When I returned to the room, Margaret was seated by the fire holding our baby while Dixon changed the sheets. I went and kneeled down beside her chair. Margaret suggested Elizabeth as a name, Bessy for short and knowing how much her friend Bessy had meant to her when she first moved up to Milton, how could i refuse?
Unfortunately I have no pictures of me with Bessy when she was just a baby but Margaret did manage a quick sketch.
Needless to say, after the birth Margaret was raring to get back to normal, although she did take it easier than usual, she still crept out of the house on the forth day to buy a perambulator!
Me with Bessy, age 3
Bessy continues to be the prettiest and brightest little girl of my acquaintance (though I confess, I maybe bias) and Margaret continues to surprise me with her love and strength.
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  1. Oh, how sweet - love the sketches and photos!

  2. Thank you.

    Needless to say, I am very proud of my family.