Sitting by the fireside, embroidery in her hands, she watched enviously as the wet nurse fed her daughter.
Her own breasts ached as she watched. The milk swelling them against the bindings that the midwives had ordered be put on them to stop the milk coming in.
Tears stung at her eyes with the physical pain in her breasts and the longing in her heart.
This was the most natural thing, for a mother to feed her child, but she was not allowed.
She had only produced a girl and her husband needed a son and heir. Her body had to recover quickly so that she could become pregnant again as soon as possible.
This was her punishment for only making a girl, she thought. Though if Elizabeth had been a boy, she would still not have been allowed to feed him. Maybe she would not have been forced to watch her baby being fed by another though.
She had begged to feed her daughter, but her husband had decreed not.
The wet nurse sat up the baby and patted her back to get her wind up. These were simple things that an everday woman could share with her newborn, but ladies of rank were not allowed.
Ladies of rank were expected to produce the children for their husbands and then hand them over. Was she expected not to care for her baby? The wriggling bundle that had grown inside her for the last few months?
Her husband would have celebrated her if she had given him a boy. Instead he had visited wife and child only twice since the birth, each time for only twenty minutes.
A month after the birth and she would be churched. Then she would return to her husband’s bed and he would hope to impregnate her again.
A baby machine. That was all he saw her as. Maybe when she had a son, she would be allowed a little time off from procreating, though she doubted it. This would be her life for the next few years, until her body stopped giving her babies. Or she died in childbirth. She wondered if her husband would notice if she had died.
Before their marriage, he had been so attentive, so keen to show his devotion to her. Now that he had her, his attention had waned.
She was his trophy wife. He had gotten what he wanted. Now she had to serve her purpose and give him his son.
The baby was crying now, she longed to soothe her. The baby nurse had taken her from the wet nurse and was taking her to the closet to clean the child. Gripping the embroidery ring until it hurt her fingers, she tried her best to keep her countenance calm. She must not show that she was upset to be kept from her baby.
When bedtime came, she would have a chance to hold her daughter and cuddle her for a whole hour. She would spend that time telling the girl that she loved her and was sorry for all the time she had to spend with others. The child would not understand, but it would make her feel better.
Until then, she must keep her temper and allow Elizabeth to be cared for by others. Easier said than done…………….