Friday, 27 April 2012

The tale of the sleeping mother and the newborn baby

There was once a woman who wanted very much to have a baby of her own. Unfortunately she was of poor health and the doctors told her that she would put her life at risk if she conceived and carried a baby.
But all she could think about was the baby she could not have.
Her heart and soul were in so much pain and yearned so strongly for a child that eventually she decided to try to get pregnant.
Very soon she was expecting her baby and at first things were going well. She felt so happy that she felt it gave her strength. She rested a lot, singing or reading to her unborn child.
But as the baby grew bigger it became harder for the mother. The pressure on her heart often made her feel faint and she could only lie down on her right side to feel comfortable.
Her strength was now slowly leaving her while her baby grew more vigorous.
She was feeling very weak towards the end of her pregnancy and the movements of her baby made her grow even more tired. Her husband feared greatly for her life and could not imagine how she was going to be able to give birth.
Two weeks before the baby was due the father found a woman to look after his wife. The woman talked to the mother in a soothing, quiet voice. Her words placed the mother into a trance and at last she could gather some force for the birth.
The woman also put her hands on the mother's belly and talked to the baby. The baby quickly started to respond to the woman touch and move towards her hands. The woman used this to make the baby be in the right position to be born.

When the mother went into labour the good woman, again, put her into a trance so she would not be in too much pain and her heart could sustain the strain. Eight hours later the baby was ready to be born.
The mother used all her feeble energy to bring her baby to the world. But as her longed for baby finally arrived the poor mother fell unconscious.
The woman placed the baby onto her mother's chest and tended to her shattered body but the mother remained unconscious.
While the woman was looking after the mother her baby was discovering her mother's body, the touch and the smell of her. Then the baby seemed to go to sleep and, leaving her naked on her mother's breasts, the woman wrapped them both more tightly into a soft blanket.
When the baby awoke she started snuffling again at her mother's skin, grappling with her hands, pushing with her feet, and bobbing her head onto her mother's chest.
Eventually the baby latched onto her mother's breast and started feeding.

After that the baby spent a lot of time with her mother, feeding when she wanted to, sleeping. Her father cuddled her when she was satiated and changed her clothes when they were soiled.
The mother would not come out of her deep sleep although the good woman tried all she could. After a couple more weeks the father had to send the woman away as he could not afford to keep her any longer.
And so the days passed with his sleeping wife and their newborn baby.
The little girl was happy enough with the milk and warmth of her mother, and the voice and arms of her father.

The baby was nearly three months old when her mother suddenly woke up.
The father cried tears of joy and hugged his wife. At first she could not understand to see her husband so moved when she felt she had only gone to sleep the minute before. She was very troubled also to see her baby so much grown already.
The mother made her husband told her everything that had happened. All the while she was holding her sleeping daughter, a look of wonder on her face.
“But, did she exclaimed, are we not very poor?! If you've been looking after us all this time and haven't been able to go back to work ?”
Her husband explained that friends and family had been helping with gifts of food, clothes for the baby and anything that these good people could afford. Yes their situation was quite precarious however.
The mother urged him to go back to work that very day. She would be fine certainly with her lovely baby.
The father did not want to leave his wife but she was growing into such a state that he agreed eventually. So he went to work and told everyone on his way to go and check if his wife needed any help.
Meanwhile the baby had woken up and wanted to feed. The mother sat in her chair and brought her daughter to her breast. But the baby was pushing away from her mother with her hands and feet and shaking her head from side to side as if she did not want her mother to hold and feed her.
The mother tried and tried but she could not get her baby to latch onto her breast. The mother was growing more and more agitated and the baby was soon screaming. So the mother put her baby on her shoulder and started walking up and down their room.
The baby had just fallen asleep, exhausted, when the grand mother came in. The two women fell into each other arms and the mother said how she had not been able to feed her baby.
When the baby woke up the grand mother told her daughter to sit down and try again. But as before the baby would not latch onto her mother's breast.
“Sit up straighter, said the grand mother. Hold her head.” But the baby was growing restless again. The grand mother seized the baby's head in one hand and her daughter's breast in the other and brought the two together. The baby seemed to latch on but quickly let go and started screaming again.
So the morning passed, each visitor giving different advice without any success. Mother and baby grew more and more distressed.

When the father came home at midday to eat some food he found a screaming baby and his wife in tears. She told him about her morning and how the baby did not want to feed from her.
Gently the father took the baby and, as he had seen the midwife doing, talked to her in a quiet and soothing voice until she calmed down. Then he lead his wife to her bed and made her lie down with pillows behind her back. Ever so softly he lifted off her shirt, freed the baby from her clothes and placed her on her mother's chest. Suddenly the troublesome hands and feet were crawling towards the breast and the head was bobbing until the baby's mouth latched on.Within minutes the baby was feeding avidly, snug in the warmth of her mother's skin and arms.
“Never mind what everyone says, said the father. Look at the two of you, you know. You both have known since she was born.”

Copyright 2012 Mother Goutte

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