And then in that happiness that is beyond all earthly bliss—the happiness of a mother when she first clasps her baby to her breast—I began to cry.
I had not cried for months—not since that night in Ellan which I did not wish to remember any more—but now my tears gushed out and ran down my face like rain.
I cried on Martin once more—I could not help it. And looking down at the closed eyes of my child my soul gushed out in gratitude to God, who had sent me this for all I had suffered.
“Hush, hush! You will do yourself a mischief and it will be bad for the milk,” said the nurse.
After that I tried to control myself. But I found a fierce and feverish delight in suckling my child. It seemed as if every drop my baby drew gave me a spiritual as well as a physical joy—cooling my blood and my brain and wiping out all my troubles.
Oh mystery of mysteries! Oh miracle of miracles!
My baby was at my breast and my sufferings were at an end.
That was a long, long day of happiness.
It was both very long and very short, for it passed like a dream.
What wonderful happenings were crowded into it!
First the nurse, from the dizzy heights of her greater experience and superior knowledge, indulged my infantile anxieties by allowing me to look on while baby was being bathed, and rewarded me for “being good” by many praises of my baby’s beauty.
“I’ve nursed a-many in my time,” she said, “but I don’t mind saying as I’ve never had a bonnier babby on my knee. Look at her legs now, so white and plump and dimpled. Have you ever seen anythink so putty?”
I confessed that I never had, and when nurse showed me how to fix the binder, and put on the barrow-coat without disturbing baby while asleep, I thought her a wonderful woman.
Emmerjane, who had with difficulty been kept out of the room last night and was now rushing breathlessly up and down stairs, wished to hold baby for a moment, and at length out of the magnificence of my generosity I allowed her to do so, only warning her, as she loved her life, to hold tight and not let baby fall.
“How’d you mean?” said the premature little mother. “Me let her fall? Not much!”
Every hour, according to the doctor’s orders, I gave baby the breast. I do not know which was my greatest joy—to feast my eyes on her while she sucked and to see her little head fall back with her little mouth open when she had had enough, or to watch her when she stretched herself and hiccoughed, and then grasped my thumb with her little tight fingers.
Oh, the wild, inexpressible delight of it!
Every hour had its surprise. Every few minutes had their cause of wonder.
It rather hurt me when baby cried, and I dare say my own foolish lip would drop at such moments, but when I saw that there were no tears in her eyes, and she was only calling for her food, I pleaded with nurse to let me give her the breast again.