The Midwife's LegacyJane Kirkpatrick
A Mother’s Cry by Jane Kirkpatrick
Midwife and widow Adele Marley always wanted a child, never expecting to become the mother of a baby whose own mother died during childbirth. Then Adele catches the eye of widower Jerome Schmidt. Jerome’s a good man—and he’s fallen hard for Adele. But should she commit to a husband, or do her daughter, Polly, and her calling to bring new life into the world bring all the love she needs?
The Midwife’s Apprentice by Rhonda Gibson
The hardest thing Polly Schultz has ever had to do is join the wagon train that will take her out west and away from the only mother she’s ever known. Thankfully she has her mother’s journal on midwifery to help her. As Polly journeys along the Oregon Trail, Gordon Baker takes an interest in her and her work. But will Polly’s quick temper and fears keep her from the man she comes to love?
Birth of a Dream by Pamela Griffin
When his stepmother goes into labor, Noah Cafferty seeks her midwife but finds only Christiana, a girl of seventeen. He’s leery of her aid, but Christiana proves she has pluck and successfully delivers the baby. But as Noah’s interest in Christiana grows, can he shed his old-world views against women working outside the home and make Christiana’s dream happen … to take her as both his wife and a midwife?
Labor of Love by Trish Perry
Kendra Silverstone has been certain of her calling to be a midwife as long as she can remember. But when a local doctor campaigns aggressively against midwifery at the same time one of Kendra’s mothers experiences the loss of a newborn, her confidence is shaken. Will the guidance and blessings provided through her ancestors’ words be enough to convince Kendra of God’s will for her life?
A Mother’s Cry © 2012 by Jane Kirkpatrick
The Midwife’s Apprentice © 2012 by Rhonda Gibson
Birth of a Dream © 2012 by Pamela Griffin
Labor of Love © 2012 by Trish Perry
Print ISBN 978-1-61626-588-5
Adobe Digital Edition (.epub) 978-1-60742-864-0
Kindle and MobiPocket Edition (.prc) 978-1-60742-865-7
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes, except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without written permission of the publisher.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarity to actual people, organizations, and/or events is purely coincidental.
Cover design: Kirk DouPonce, DogEared Design
Published by Barbour Publishing, Inc., P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, Ohio 44683, www.barbourbooks.com
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
A Mother’s Cry by Jane Kirkpatrick
Jane Kirkpatrick bio
The Midwife’s Apprentice by Rhonda Gibson
Rhonda Gibson bio
Birth of a Dream by Pamela Griffin
Pamela Griffin bio
Labor of Love by Trish Perry
Trish Perry bio
A MOTHER’S CRY
by Jane Kirkpatrick
To midwives everywhere.
1843—Milwaukee, Wisconsin Territory
Adele Marley laid the infant on her mother’s breast. The umbilical cord looked barely long enough, but something more was wrong, very wrong. Adele’s mouth felt dry, and she reached with one hand still centering the child on its mother while pressing a clean cloth against the woman’s birth chamber. Blood soaked the rag in seconds, staining the bedsheets, Adele’s hand. Everything looked red.
“It’s all right.” Adele spoke to the mother, hoping as she did that she’d be forgiven for the lie. “Feel your daughter. Pretty dark hair. Fine as goose down. You’ve delivered a treasure to the world.” The woman groaned, and Adele helped her place a weak hand on her daughter’s head. “You did it.”
“I did it,” Serena Schultz gasped. “I did all things through …”
“Him who strengthens me.” It was the verse Adele had given the woman for comfort all through the pregnancy. It was a prayer as well as a promise. Serena gasped in pain. In Adele’s few short years as a midwife, she had never seen so much blood. “Serena? Stay with me. I’ll send Arthur for the doctor. Arthur!”
The man appeared, hair up in sticks from rubbing his hands through it in worry, eyes rheumy with waiting, hoping. Adele heard Serena’s breathing change. “God be with this woman, this child, this man,” she prayed under her breath, so as not to alarm Serena.
“What’s wrong? Serena?”
Adele touched Arthur’s shoulder. “You have a healthy baby girl, Arthur. Polly, isn’t that what you said you’d name a daughter?” Arthur nodded. He reached for his wife’s hand. “Polly’s healthy.” Serena gasped, her breath shallow and short. “Go get the doctor, Arthur. I’ll do what I can.” She knew it was too late. Arthur hesitated.
Adele stared at the woman’s face, pale as piano keys. The placenta moved from her as her breath exhaled. Adele cut the umbilical cord. Then she watched as a presence moved up through Serena’s body like a breath, floating across the woman and disappearing at her eyes, passing without a sound from her body. Serena, no longer full of life and struggle, lay still, her face peaceful.
“Serena!” Arthur pushed the infant aside then, and Adele stood in time to catch the slippery babe and hold it to her breast.
“I’m so sorry, Arthur. So sorry. But you have a daughter to care for now. A beautiful child. Serena would have—”
“I did not want a child!” His eyes rained tears. “Serena—” He held his wife to him, her limp arms unable to wrap comfort around her husband or her child.
“I’ll hold the baby until you’re ready.” Adele held back sobs.
“I have no care what you do with that child. None at all. I never want to see her again—or you. If you
hadn’t told Serena she wasn’t too old to have a child, if you hadn’t—”
“She’s only thirty-two, Arthur. It was a quirk—” Adele stopped. She knew that anger was the brother of grief. Her words would only fuel the fire of loss that burned within him.
Adele swaddled the child. “I’ll find a wet nurse.” It was her nature to set necessary things in motion. Her own grief would have to wait. She held the baby to her and stood to heat watered milk she knew the child would need. False sustenance it was when what she truly needed was her mother’s love, her father’s care. Neither was to be.
March 2, 1843. A midwife means “with woman,” and tonight that was so in such a mournful way. At times I feel helpless in being “with woman” during times of uncertainty and fear. The beginning of the first stirrings of life is so wonderful, and I am “with woman” until the moment when the child cries into living, eyes staring at the candlelight, wanting to connect with someone even before they want to suck. I knew Polly, who sleeps beside me, before she was born. I was there when her mother felt the quickening. There, when she startled Serena with her kicks. She was “Paul or Polly” then; it did not matter. She was life, and I was there with her.
But I must not let my heart fall too deeply in love with little Polly. It is the gift of midwifery to be present at the hour of birth, to speak courage and potency to the mother, to tell her that she is capable of delivering this new life into the world. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” That’s the verse I gave Polly’s mother. And she did do it, deliver this child. But midwifery is also a curse when things go wrong. Even with the child thriving, a good midwife knows never to fall too deeply in love with another’s child, because that love cannot be returned in an unconditional way. Such surviving children belong always to another. No, a faithful midwife learns to love, to cry, to pray, and to say good-bye.
SOMETHING UNUSUAL THIS WAY COMES
Sixteen years later
Adele Marley stood at the postal window, staring at the letter.
“It’s from that new banker,” Cora Olson, the postmistress, told her. “There.” She pointed. “The return address. Jerome Schmidt, Esquire.”
“Probably a printed flyer announcing something at the bank.” Adele pushed the envelope into her grip along with the German Almanac from Milwaukee and a letter from her friend in the new state of Oregon. She was careful not to disturb the thread and needles she’d purchased earlier from the other end of Cora’s store.
“I haven’t seen any other letters like that one,” Cora said. “I’d say it was a personal message of some kind. See the handwriting? Lots of flourish. Don’t you want to open it? In case you have to stop at the bank and take care of something before you head home, you know.”
“I thank you for your insights.” Adele looked the woman in the eye even though she wanted to stare at her broken eyetooth. Adele didn’t let on that a trickle of sweat had already begun seeping beneath her corset.
“Might be a legal concern.” Cora’s raised voice floated as Adele reached the door. “That ‘Esquire’ after the name means lawyer, doesn’t it?”
“You have a nice day now.”
Adele hurried out to her buckboard, the boxes of supplies already loaded by Cora’s husband, who lifted his hat to her. Adele nodded back, her eyes dropped in modesty beneath her bonnet. She grasped the wood smoothed by years of hands and stepped up into the seat of the wagon then lifted the reins, snapping them to let the mule know she was ready.
What would the banker want with her? The note against her farm was paid annually, with interest. She owned the land but, like most farmers, borrowed operating expenses each year, expenses paid off with the sale of her milk and butter and the occasional heifer. She had a bull that brought in breeding fees, and with selling excess wheat she grew and her midwifery, she and Polly did quite well. She’d even been able to supply a widow with five children all the milk they needed until they could afford a cow of their own. She hadn’t asked for a loan extension of any kind. No, the letter couldn’t be about the farm.
The new banker was a lawyer, but—Arthur. After all this time. Adele pulled up the reins just before crossing the bridge of the Buffalo River outside of Mondovi, the small town she and her husband had moved to in western Wisconsin five years before.
She dug in her satchel for the letter, breaking the wax seal with her gloved finger. Arthur had moved away from Milwaukee, long before Adele and John and Polly headed west. They had no idea where he’d gone. They’d left notice with a lawyer where they could be found, though Arthur had not. But this was what Adele feared, that Arthur would come looking for them or send someone else. With John gone—God rest his soul—the possibility of the loss of Polly sent a searing pain into her side. Her hands trembled as she opened the letter.
May 2, 1859
Mrs. Adele Marley from Jerome Schmidt, Esquire.
I have a question of some urgency that I would like to discuss with you. I will arrive at your home on Tuesday, May 10, at 3:00 p.m. Tea is not expected.
Cordially, Jerome Schmidt, Esquire
He was coming to her home? Tuesday—this very afternoon!
Adele stuffed the letter back in her bag and flicked the reins, her lips moving to unspoken prayers. She’d send Polly away for the afternoon. One look at the slender girl with walnut-colored hair compared to Adele’s stocky frame and aging yellow strands would only remind the lawyer that Adele was not Polly’s mother. Polly, such a jewel in Adele’s life, full of sparkle and yes, lately, a bit of spit. Polly, reminding her of life and living and that there is a time for everything; even sadness must not last forever. Maybe being a mother didn’t last forever, either.
I’m not Polly’s mother. I have to remember that.
She’d send Polly to the widow Wilson, give her eggs to take—yes, that would work. She’d deprived the girl of the trip to Mondovi for weekly supplies, telling her it was because the garden needed planting. Adele often found excuses not to let Polly be out and about. She was being protective. And there was no sense in Polly being frightened by changes blowing in the breeze. Adele would keep her composure, but she’d fight for this girl as much as she’d fought to keep Polly’s mother alive all those years before. Then, forgetting her earlier promise to remember Polly’s birth mother, Adele spoke out loud to the mule: “Polly belongs to me, and I’ll make sure that lawyer-banker knows it.”
THE SLANTED SEAT
Jerome Schmidt preferred action. The bank ran itself, what with Miss Piggins, old as dirt, looking after reports and such. So this task came at a good time. He didn’t intend to remain long in this small village, but it had given him respite. He had eyes on Oregon, but then, what adventurous man didn’t? Maple leaves glistened in the light breeze, and the white bark of the birch trees gave his old blue eyes comfort. At forty-two he wasn’t that old, though of late, he’d felt that way. He inhaled the scent of spring in this western Wisconsin hamlet, taking in the variety of greens popping out in the woods, lilacs primping for their May performance. He preferred this to the bustling city of Milwaukee, where a man could barely get a good night’s rest with the drayage firms delivering supplies at all hours, steamships and trains blowing their whistles. Sounds of progress, yes, but constricting, too. Refuge, that’s what he’d found here on the Buffalo River, and a chance to start over and keep his commitments to his family, such as it was.
He rode his big gelding into the widow’s neatly tended yard, spied the stock tank at the end of the hitching rail, and dismounted, letting his horse drink as he surveyed the two-story house framed by lilac bushes. A good tight barn stood to the side with the edge of a new planting of what looked like oats in the distance. Six cows chewed their cuds lazily near the barn, surrounded by new grass. The fences could use repair. Hollyhocks would add to the bare outhouse. He tied the horse to the rail in the shade of a giant maple then approached the house
. Chickens scattered. He noticed the porch post wobbled when he touched it. Yes, a little fixing might help. Before he could knock, the door opened. The woman’s glare surprised him.
“Mr. Schmidt, I presume?” Adele took the lead. She was glad she’d decided to do so, as his presence was imposing, with his well-trimmed beard sporting a hint of silver within the auburn and eyes as blue as her Willow plates. One eyebrow arched higher than the other, making him look … intimidating. He was taller than most of the farmers she knew, and he’d have to duck through the door. The seven-foot ceilings might make him feel enclosed, which was good. He had no right coming here without invitation, setting the date and time, giving her no chance to protest or even prepare. What if she’d waited until tomorrow to go to town and get the mail? He’d have shown up and she wouldn’t have had time to send Polly away. It was not coincidental that Jerome Schmidt’s letter offered a measure of preparation. She thanked God for that.
“I am,” he said and removed his hat. He ran his hand through his maple-syrup-colored hair that didn’t match his beard at all.
“I only this morning received your letter. A busy woman doesn’t have the luxury of picking up her mail daily.”
He stepped back. “My apologies. Perhaps the letter wasn’t posted when intended.”
His admission surprised her, and she gentled her voice. “Yes, well, that does sometimes happen in a busy bank.” She thought back to the date on the letter, a week previous. But still. Let Mr. Schmidt, Esquire, be a little uncomfortable. In fact, when they entered the parlor, Adele directed him to “the chair.” It had belonged to her grandmother, who had cut the front legs down two inches so the occupant tipped slightly forward, a little off balance. Maybe Mr. Schmidt wouldn’t be as likely to stay as long as he would if he could settle himself and lean back in a nice soft leather seat and take over the room let alone the conversation.