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Author Topic: Possessed--Part Eight  (Read 2527 times)

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Offline Evie

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Possessed--Part Eight
« on: February 19, 2011, 01:54:31 pm »
   Part Eight—Reunion

   March 25, 1127
   Tre-Arilan


   Seisyll curled up beside his sleepy wife, who cradled their newborn daughter in her arms.  “I used the shiral to contact Javana last night and let her know you'd come through Stefania's birth just fine.  She was happy to hear it, but she doesn't think she'll be able to come for the christening next week.”

   Sophie turned disappointed eyes to her husband.  “Oh, I was so hoping they could be here, especially since she and Walter arrived in Rhemuth a bit earlier than we'd expected for Easter Court; surely Walter wouldn't mind a short side-trip while they're in the area, given the circumstances?    Or if the King can't spare Walter for more than a day or two, perhaps Walter and Javana could just come up for the day of the christening feast, since they're so close, or Javana could come alone.  They could easily stay here a couple of days and still be back in time to Rhemuth for Easter Court.  It's the first Sunday in April this year, isn't it?”

   “Yes, on the third.”  Seisyll nodded, looking thoughtful.  “You know, I'll bet that possibility hadn't occurred to her.  I'll see if I can contact her again and suggest it.”

   “You'd think it might have occurred to Lord Walter,” Sophie groused, though a huge yawn from her newborn daughter distracted her and she soon forgot her irritation at her brother-in-law, pointing out the cute expression to her husband, who gazed fondly down at both females.  “She's as lovely as her mother, dearest,” Seisyll assured his wife with a smile, kissing her brow tenderly.  “Thank you for our daughter.”

   “You don't mind that our firstborn is a girl?”

   He raised a brow at her.  “Why would I?  I'm sure an heir will come along soon enough, and in the meantime, I get a little princess to spoil.”  Seisyll rolled his eyes.  “Though why I should look forward to that, I don't know.  She'll probably end up like her Aunt Jashana, and I'll have two hellions to tend to.”

   Sophie laughed.  “Jashana's hardly that bad, she's just high-spirited!  And anyway, she'll be marrying Ethan soon enough, and after that she'll officially be Not Your Problem.”  She grinned at her husband.  “And you'll miss her.  You know you will!”

   “I will,” he admitted with a grudging smile, “just as I miss my other sister, now that she's living all the way across the Kingdom.  Though it will be nice to have one less sibling underfoot daily, you must admit.”

   “I suppose,” Sophie said a trifle wistfully, “though I do like having another lady around to talk to.”

   “I know you do,” Seisyll said.  “Anyway, she and Ethan won’t be living so far away; I’m sure you’ll still see each other often enough.  Or you know, I really don’t mind you visiting Rhemuth whenever you get lonely for other company.  It’s only a few seconds away by Transfer Portal, after all, or we could ride into the city together once you’re feeling up to it again and the weather is more favorable.”  

     “Hm. There is that.”  Sophie stroked the top of their baby’s head, looking thoughtful.  “I wish Javana had a Transfer Portal at Caerdraig; I’m sure Lord Walter would relish some easier way to get from the Kheldish Riding to Rhemuth and back every year.  Not to mention it would make it a lot easier for her to come visit us now and again.  Maybe you could mention that the next time you contact her?  It seems a bit odd Lord Walter wouldn’t have one already….”

   “Not really,” Seisyll said.  “We only know that he’s Deryni; his father and the rest of his male line may have been human, in which case there’d have been little need for a Transfer Portal at Caerdraig before Lord Walter inherited his title.  And so many Deryni and half-Deryni lack formal training nowadays, he may not know how to create one.  After all, your family is full Deryni, but you didn’t even know Kestrel Mote once had a Portal until Lisette found those remains of one last winter.”

   Sophie sighed.  “You’re right.  Too bad it doesn’t work anymore.  I wish my father had maintained it!”

   “Sir Ranulf may never have even known it was there, love.  It’s a very old Portal, probably created when Kestrel Mote was first built, and from the feel of it, not used in several generations.  I’m not sure even Denis would know how to reactivate it now, though I suppose there’s no harm in asking him.  It might be easier just to go ahead and create a new one, though that’s Stefan’s decision to make, if he wants one.”

   Sophie looked warily at her husband as a sudden thought occurred to her.  “If Javana decides to come to Stefania’s christening, is Stefan still welcome?”

   Seisyll sighed.  “Yes.  Javana’s married now, and Stefan is family.  I’m hardly going to bar him from his own niece’s christening.  If Javana manages to come, she’ll just have to cope with seeing him here.  At any rate, hopefully that won’t even be an issue anymore, now that she’s been wed to Walter coming up on a year.”

#

   March 27
   Forest glade, just outside of Tre-Arilan   


   Sir Ethan of Mainwaring sat in the shade of a large oak tree, sitting upon his spread-out cloak, his bride-to-be in his arms.  Jashana Arilan lifted her face for another kiss.

   “Must you return to Mainwaring so soon?” she asked.

   “Only for a short while,” he answered.  “After the christening, I'll need to return to Rhemuth for Easter Court, then go home after that to tend to some manorial business.”  He dropped a tender kiss on her brow.  “Maybe Seisyll might let you come back with me, so you can get acquainted with your future home.  I could bring you back the end of April, if he can spare you for a few weeks.”

   Jashana snorted.  “Without Sophie available to chaperone me?  Maybe pigs fly!”

   Ethan turned his attention to his betrothed's lips, silencing her for a long moment before he added, “My sister would be glad to chaperone you.”

   Jashana laughed.  “Your sister who keeps conveniently falling asleep or getting 'lost' every time we visit the gardens at Rhemuth Castle together?  I'd love that, but Seisyll would never agree.”

   “You'd love that, would you?” Her knight chuckled as he began nuzzling her neck.  “My sweet little wanton!”

   “And who made me so?” she whispered, her eyes drifting shut with pleasure.  

   Ethan drew her down onto his cloak, answering her question without words.

#

   Javana looked coolly at her husband, playing the card she knew was most likely to alter the course of the game.  “It would look rather strange for us to be so close to Tre-Arilan and not attend my niece's baptism, don't you think?  You wouldn't want the whole Court to think you utterly without family feeling!”

   Walter scowled as he considered this new thought.  As much as he disliked the thought of allowing his wife to return to her childhood home and her altogether too inquisitive family, there was little chance that the word of the newest Arilan arrival had not reached Rhemuth already, and while it would be readily accepted that his primary purpose in venturing so far from the Kheldish Riding this time of year was to attend Easter Court, the busybodies that infested Rhemuth would also be expecting him to observe such social niceties as being in attendance at his wife's family’s religious observances.  So be it, then.  They could drop by Tre-Arilan for a day, but he would stay by his wife's side the entire time, sticking to her closer than a shadow.  He had no reason to believe she had found some way around the controls he had set in her mind, but why take chances?

   “I suppose we could stop by for a short visit,” Walter allowed.

   Javana dropped her eyes, carefully shielding the sudden burst of triumph she felt, and gave her husband a polite murmur of thanks.

   “You will, of course, be prepared to show me your gratitude once we are alone tonight.”   Walter gave her a slow smile.

   Javana turned slightly pale, but did not argue.  She would bear his attentions as she always did now, detaching her mind and forcing herself to think of something else.  It was a small price to pay for the chance to see her family again.

#

   March 30
   Tre-Arilan


   Seisyll cradled his daughter Stefania, wrapped in her bearing cloth of fine white linen embroidered with pearls, in his arms on her baptismal day.  She had loudly protested the salt placed in her mouth and the cold water of the baptismal font, but now that she was safely restored to her father’s arms, her wails had subsided to quieter grumblings.

   The family and friends left the chapel at Tre-Arilan to return to the Great Hall, where a feast of celebration had been prepared.  Sophie was waiting there already.  Since she had been delivered of her child but a few days earlier, she had not yet been churched, but the midwife had checked on her earlier that morning and had proclaimed her fit to leave her bedchamber and join her guests for the day, so long as she did not over-exert herself and she returned to her bed early that evening to get the rest she needed as a new mother.  Seisyll handed his firstborn child over to her mother as soon as they had returned to the Hall.  The baby clung tightly to her mother’s gown, rooting instinctively, looking for the comfort of her mother’s breast.  Sophie made a discreet exit to the withdrawing room to tend to her child’s need, leaving her husband to play the gracious host to their guests.

   She looked up from her bench as someone else entered the room, a ready smile springing to her lips as she noticed who the new arrival was.  Gathering her light cloak more closely around her, both for warmth and for modesty’s sake, she greeted her husband’s uncle.  Denis smiled back, settling onto the bench next to her, politely averting his gaze from her both for her comfort and his own.  “How are you feeling?” he asked.

   “Sleepy, but then I always seem to be since Steffie’s birth.”  Sophie laughed.  “I’d always heard babies are a lot of work, but I didn’t know the half of it, apparently!  The new nursemaid is a help, but I’m still waking up throughout the night whenever Steffie is hungry.”

   The bishop chuckled.  “You’ll have an easier time of it once she’s sleeping through the night a bit and not needing you so often.  At least Lady Alix used to pray for those days with each new infant.”  He glanced at his steepled fingers in thought.  “You could hire a wet nurse, you know.”

   “I know.  I just hate to hand her over to anyone else, even for a moment.”  Sophie sighed.  “I expect that will change too, eventually, but for now at least, I can spare the time and energy for tending to her myself.”

   “Well, you would know better than I would what you’re able to manage, I imagine.”  Denis smiled.  “Would you like to see your daughter’s baptism?”

   Sophie turned eager eyes up to her uncle-by-marriage.  “Please!”

   He took her hand, sharing his memories of the christening ceremony with her, mind to mind.

#

   Seisyll embraced his sister Javana, offering up a quiet prayer of thanksgiving that she had been able to make it to Stefania's baptism after all.  Walter stood behind and slightly to one side of his wife, a hand on her shoulder, smiling genially as he greeted his brother-in-law again for the first time since his wedding to Javana and their subsequent leave-taking the following day.

   “She's beautiful!” Javana quietly assured her brother, referring to her new niece.  Seisyll gave her a proud smile, though inwardly he felt a twinge of dismay as he studied his sister covertly.  She seemed more subdued than he could ever remember her being, save perhaps for those first weeks after Stefan's desertion of her, and although she seemed to be in good health at first glance, a closer look showed new signs of strain in her eyes.  She seemed to him to have lost a little weight; not enough to cause undue worry, yet enough to make him wonder if she had recently fallen ill.  Then again, after having lost a mother to a wasting disease, he could well be overreacting.  Perhaps he was simply imagining the changes, or they might be due to her natural maturation rather than the result of some recent illness or unhappiness.  It had, after all, been nearly a year since he'd last seen his sister.

   “I think she looks a great deal like her Aunt Javana,” Seisyll said with a smile, wishing he could steal a private moment with his sister, but other guests were demanding his attention now.  Perhaps later that evening, then, or early the next morning.  He made a mental note to set aside some extra time to spend with his sister while she was there.  Perhaps they could steal away for an hour for a morning’s ride, as they'd used to do in younger years, and he could find out how she had been faring in the past few months.   

   “How can you tell, with a newborn?” his sister said, her lips curving slightly upwards at the corners, though the smile didn’t travel quite as far as her eyes.  “She could end up looking more like Jashana or, God help you, just like Sextus….”

   “I heard that!”  Sextus Arilan called out as he approached his eldest sister to gather her in a hug.  “And what’s wrong with looking like me, I’d like to know?”

   “Nothing much, I suppose,” Seisyll said, turning to his brother with a teasing grin, “if you’re a boy.  Stefania’s going to have a rough time of it if she ends up looking exactly like you, though.  I might have to increase her dowry.”

   “Stefania….”  Javana repeated the name quietly.  “Is she named for our grandmother, or for her uncle?”

   Seisyll and his brother exchanged glances.  “Both,” Seisyll said.

   “I…suppose that’s fitting.  It’s a lovely name,” Javana said somewhat absently, looking slightly past them.  Seisyll turned to find his brother-in-law Stefan regarding them, apparently caught off guard but hastily summoning up a smile of courteous greeting.

#

   She hadn’t seen him in nearly three years.  Javana de Branigan’s fingers shook slightly as she offered Stefan her hand to kiss.  Stefan de Varnay bowed over it, lips kissing the air just above her skin, so close she could feel the warmth of his breath.  She suppressed her reaction to the brief contact, her mind and face a mask, acutely conscious of Walter standing close behind her, watching with predatory eyes above a cordial smile.

   “Stefan,” she said quietly, dipping into a polite curtsey.  An exclamation sounded behind him, and Javana looked past her former suitor to see his wife—her cousin—approaching, a happy smile on her face, seemingly oblivious to the undercurrents of tension swirling around the pair.

   Javana pasted on a smile.  “Lisette!”  She accepted her cousin’s embrace, kissing her on the cheek as they’d been in the habit of greeting each other long ago, and making sure that Lisette could see her lips before speaking again, for her cousin could not hear spoken words anymore and was dependent on lip-reading or Mind-Speech to understand what was said to her.

   “Look at you!” Lisette was saying in her oddly-inflected voice.  “You’re all grown up now, and so lovely!”

   Javana stared at Stefan’s wife.  “And you’re…radiant.”  Lisette was, but that was not the first word that had come to Javana’s mind.  No, ‘huge with child’ was closer to her original thought.  “When is our niece or nephew due?”  She forced her voice to casualness.  Neither term was strictly accurate for what Lisette’s child would be in relation to herself, but she must learn to think of Stefan as a brother-by-marriage now, not as a former lover who might have, had life been kinder, become her husband and the father of her children.

   “In May,” Lisette answered with a smile at her husband.  “Our first.   Javana, have you met my husband Stefan?”

   The blue-violet Arilan gaze met hazel De Varnay eyes.  “We...have a prior acquaintance, yes,” Javana managed.

   Sophie appeared just then, carrying Stefan's sleeping namesake and sparing Javana from the awkward moment.  

   “Javana!  I thought I recognized your voice.”  She gave her sister-in-law a one-armed embrace, smiling at her.  “I'm so glad you and Lord Walter were able to make it after all!”  She curtseyed to Walter, who returned the courtesy with a polite nod of his own.

   Javana recovered enough to make introductions all around, acutely aware of Walter's gaze upon her as she did so.  She wondered what price he would exact for this later, once they were alone.  It wouldn't matter to him that she hadn't engineered the encounter, would gladly have avoided it if she could.  It would be a reminder of what he saw as her previous disloyalty to him, and so she would be found at fault for it.

   His strong arm squeezed her shoulders briefly, and she shivered.

#

   “Come, Sister!”  Jashana took Javana's hand in hers, pulling her towards the other end of the Hall.  “There's someone I'd like you to meet.”  She smiled a winsome smile at Javana's husband.  “Pray excuse us, Lord Walter; I'll bring her back directly.”  Before Walter could summon up a reply, the younger Arilan sister had taken his wife away, guiding her to a small room just off the Great Hall.  

   Walter watched them until they disappeared through the open doorway, though he kept enough attention on the conversation going on around him to make the proper responses when anyone spoke to him.  He was far from pleased, although he kept any hint of his feelings out of his expression.  His eyes scoured the room until they fell on Sir Aylmer.

   My Baroness has withdrawn to the small room behind the dais, he Mind-Spoke to Aylmer. Go keep an eye on her.  The knight looked up, meeting Walter's eyes briefly in acknowledgment, then found a pretext to wind up the conversation he'd been having with Seisyll's nearest neighbor, excusing himself after a few moments to slip discreetly out of the Hall.  Walter's ice cold eyes followed Aylmer until he, too, was out of sight.

#

   “This is my betrothed, Sir Ethan of Mainwaring,” Jashana was saying, her face alight with joy.  Javana murmured polite greetings to the man, suppressing a twinge of envy at her sister's obvious happiness in her relationship.  “Ethan, beloved, this is my favorite sister Javana.”

   Javana's lips formed a faint grin.  “Not to mention I'm her only sister.”  She extended a hand for Jashana's handsome knight to bow over.

   “Enchanted, my lady.”  Ethan's warm brown eyes sparkled with amusement as he glanced at her, then at Jashana.  “Jashana has missed you a great deal over the past year.  She's been filling my ears with stories of your youthful escapades together.  Hopefully once we're wed and Jashana has had time to settle into Mainwaring, we might have the pleasure of your company sometime.  And your lord husband's, of course.”

   Javana smiled noncommittally.  It was unlikely Walter would allow her to visit, though there was no way she could say so without raising questions her controls would not allow her to answer honestly.  Though now that she was temporarily out from under Walter's watchful gaze, she wondered if there might be some way around the compulsion to stay silent that she might discover; some hint she might be able to get across that all was not well with her, even if she could not come straight out and say what was wrong.

   “Or perhaps you might happen to be in the area of Caerdraig sometime,” Javana said carefully, deliberately not couching it as an invitation, for had she tried to invite her family to Walter's baronial seat, she knew that the control in her mind would change the words to something completely unrelated and innocuous before they could leave her mouth.  “Though I'd not recommend travel in that part of the Kingdom right now.”  Honest words, those, and yet so far she had not managed to say anything forbidden that would cause the control to kick in.  

   Jashana gave her a look of startled curiosity.  “Oh?  Why not?”

   Here, then, would be the test, but as far as all Javana's experimentation with the boundaries of her controls had shown, they were only triggered if she tried to make a direct appeal for help, or to tell someone what she was experiencing personally.  “There have been deaths and mysterious disappearances of late in the Riding,” she whispered quickly.  “Mostly women.  Also women who have had...strange things happen to them...evidences of possible rapes and other forms of…tampering, lost memories....”

   Jashana glanced at Ethan quickly, then back at Javana.  “What sort of things, sister?” she whispered back.  “And do you mean Deryni tampering?”

   But Javana had seen a movement out of the corner of her eye.  She extended her senses slightly, felt Sir Aylmer's presence lurking in the shadowed doorway.

   “I...couldn't say, Jashana,” she said swiftly, keeping her voice low.  “But truly, it's not a good time to visit Caerdraig or any of the surrounding countryside.  Not a good time at all.”

#

   “What were they talking about?”  Walter asked Sir Aylmer once Javana was back in his sight and he had a private moment to speak with his lieutenant.

   “I only came in on the tail end of the conversation,” Aylmer told him, “but it sounded like your wife's sister was hoping to be invited to Caerdraig.  Your lady told her that such a visit would be inconvenient.”

   Walter frowned slightly.  If such was the case, then there was nothing in what Javana had said that he could disapprove of.  Still, he felt troubled.  

   “Watch her closely for the duration of our stay, Aylmer.  If she as much as coughs, I want to know about it.  I don't trust these people.  The sooner we're away from here and back home, or at least back in Rhemuth, the better.”


Part Nine:  http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=666.0
« Last Edit: February 22, 2011, 10:33:51 am by Evie »
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Offline derynifanatic64

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Re: Possessed--Part Eight
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2011, 03:57:23 pm »
Definitely a tense moment at Tre-Arilan.  Denis is still powerless when it comes to his new grand-niece.  His nieces have nearly complete control over him.  Maybe the mention of the killings near Walter's estate will lead (eventually one day) of his duplicity.  I am curious to know who this killer is--looks like a "Jack the Ripper" type. 
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Offline DesertRose

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Re: Possessed--Part Eight
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2011, 04:19:20 pm »
Grr.  Walter reminds me of my ex-husband.  I shudder to think what my ex could have done with Deryni power.  I hope Walter gets his comeuppance soon.
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Offline Jerusha

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Re: Possessed--Part Eight
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2011, 05:13:53 pm »
As much as Javana wanted to visit home, how much harder it will be to leave it again, especially after seeing what might have been.
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Offline Alkari

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Re: Possessed--Part Eight
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2011, 05:30:38 pm »
Hmmm - the plot thickens, as they say.  Good that Javana got to visit her family - cleverly managed by her  ;)  as Walter certainly wants to appear completely "normal" in terms of social behaviour.   And at least she has managed to evade his blocks sufficiently to sow the first seeds of concern about certain activities and the disappearing women  ...

Offline Shiral

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Re: Possessed--Part Eight
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2011, 11:51:21 pm »
Lord Walter, the Gestapo of Gwynedd, complete with flunkies.    I want to hurt this guy so bad....

Something tells me Jashana is going to be instrumental in helping Javana out of her fix. And I daresay Uncle Denis is going to be a fair bit of help, too.

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Offline AnnieUK

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Re: Possessed--Part Eight
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2011, 09:24:34 am »
The whole idea of not being able to attend your own baby's christening seems weird now, but I guess must have been commonplace then.

Offline Evie

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Re: Possessed--Part Eight
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2011, 04:02:19 pm »
Oh yes, a lot of the traditions surrounding childbirth then seem really odd to us, just as our customs would doubtless seem strange to them.  One of my favorites (and I didn't show this in Sophie's story Labors of Love partly because it would have been difficult for the action of Part Two, and partly because the same traditions don't seem to apply in the Deryni universe, going by Alyce's lying-in experience, at least) was the custom of having not just the midwife in the room during labor and delivery, but all of one's female relatives and friends, and even the neighborhood women.  I've had two children, and felt the birthing room was crowded enough with just my husband and the medical personnel in with me.  I can't imagine having my mom, my mother-in-law, all my female friends, and any woman from down the street who happened to be available once my water broke, all standing about giving me conflicting advice, encouragement, and swapping horror stories about their last birth experience!   :D

The tradition of "churching" is equally alien to many new mother today, but in the Middle Ages, women in the noble class and the growing middle class spent the weeks immediately before and immediately after childbirth enjoying the luxury of rest and relaxation that those hard-working women could not afford most other times.  (And yes, unlike in later periods, even noblewomen worked hard--they had servants, to be sure, but they didn't simply order them about and supervise them, they worked alongside them a great deal of the time.)  Unless you were a peasant and had little choice in the matter, a woman would be restricted to her home--and usually her private chamber--for the weeks after childbirth to allow her body to grow stronger and for her to recover from the rigors of birth and from the post-partum bleeding that would last for the next several weeks.  The churching would take place after this period of recovery, and was meant as a way to give thanks for the safe deliverance of the mother from the perils of childbirth (which, given the much higher mortality rate both of birthing mothers and mothers in their post-partum weeks due to infections, was a blessing definitely not taken for granted by medieval mothers the way it often is nowadays).  But since babies were generally baptized the same week as their birth, if not on the same day (or even, if expected not to survive, by the midwives right as soon as they were born), and since baptisms usually occurred in a church or chapel, the mothers were usually not in attendance because they were still recovering in their bedchambers.  So the churching ceremony also allowed the mother to have her own special, post-birthing ceremony in which she also, like the father, could declare her intent to bring up her child in devotion to God, since she generally would not have been able to be present when that infant was baptized.  Nowadays, parents who practice infant baptism often wait a short while after the birth of a baby before the baptism, in order to have time to invite friends and family to attend, etc, and both parents are able to be in attendance.  There is less danger of a woman falling dangerously ill or dying during those critical post-partum days, so less pressure for her to remain in her bed or even in her house (though even as recently as my children's births, doctors usually restricted mothers from driving for the first two weeks after childbirth, or from returning to work for at least six weeks, and I assume that still holds true today), so a churching tradition might not have the same social and emotional significance today that it once held for medieval women, even assuming similar spiritual beliefs.
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Offline Elkhound

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Re: Possessed--Part Eight
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2011, 04:08:20 pm »
The whole idea of not being able to attend your own baby's christening seems weird now, but I guess must have been commonplace then.

It wasn't that long ago that women were discouraged or even forbidden to attend church directly after childbirth until they had been 'churched.'  As late as the 1928 Prayer Book (officially replaced in 1979), the ECUSA's BCP had that liturgy.  (It has been superceded by 'Thanksgiving for the Birth or Adoption of a Child'.)

One way around that was to have the baptism at home rather than at church. 

Offline AnnieUK

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Re: Possessed--Part Eight
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2011, 04:20:15 pm »
Well I had no restrictions on driving, and I was walking a mile into town with the buggy and a mile back after a couple of days, so maybe they are more cautious over with you.  Or maybe I'm just bonkers. ;)

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Re: Possessed--Part Eight
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2011, 04:45:14 pm »
Here, I suspect the "no driving for two weeks" rule has more to do with the sleep deprivation most mothers of newborns are dealing with than the childbirth itself.  I broke that rule a few times with my second-born because she was in the Regional Newborn Intensive Care unit for several weeks after I was discharged from hospital, so I was making daily trips to the hospital and my husband wasn't always able to drive me.  But I had at least one near-accident during that time period that was directly related to my lack of sleep and inability to focus on my driving (I was so mentally 'out of it' that I ran a red light at a busy 4-lane highway because even though I saw it, my brain was too foggy to process what it meant), and that was my "OMG, so that's why the doctors say that!" moment of epiphany.   :D

I work a desk job, so I probably could have returned to my job before the end of the six-weeks period against doctor's orders without any ill effects, had I wanted to, but physically demanding labors during the period of lochia flow can prolong the recovery period or even cause post-partum hemorrhaging, which is probably why doctors here advise against an early return to work for all.  That keeps the women returning to more cushy jobs sooner than they'd like to from grumbling about how unfair it is that women returning to more strenuous work have a valid medical excuse to remain home and take it easy longer.  (In my case, I took more than the minimum six weeks, using my Family Medical Leave benefits to remain home for a full three months so I could have time to bond with the new baby, establish a nursing routine, get back on a regular sleep schedule so I could be fully sane and rested when I got back to work, and so I could get the baby established in daycare before returning to work full-time, but not all women have the luxury of being able to take a full 3 months off, since much of that time is unpaid time off work, and also a great many women who do have that luxury don't feel the physical or emotional need to do so that I did.)
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