This is a blog I wrote for Fresh Fiction as part of my virtual book tour for My Dearest Mr. Darcy. Once again, as with most of the blogs I wrote, I turned to history and the research necessary to bring the Regency world alive. Here, as you have probably guessed, my topic was Elizabeth’s pregnancy and deliver. And there is an excerpt! Enjoy~~~
“I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout birthin’ no babies, Miss Scarlett!”
I love that classic line delivered by a frantic Prissy (Butterfly McQueen) in the movie Gone With the Wind. Makes me laugh every time and is a humorous quote uttered quite frequently where I work. In our case it is a complete joke since my “real” job is as an RN in the Maternal Child Health field. Specifically I am a 25-year veteran of Neonatal ICU nursing, so I can claim with all sincerity to be an expert in both laboring and delivering mothers and babies.
My professional experience coupled with being a mother of two aided me tremendously in writing of Elizabeth Darcy’s pregnancy and delivery as well as those early weeks with a newborn. Ah, the memories! Lizzy’s pregnancy did not proceed exactly like either of mine did, nor was her delivery precisely the same, but lets just say there were definite similarities! And after witnessing and assisting in literally thousands of deliveries over the years, it was very easy to write a realistic scenario.
In my saga that has thus far spanned 3 novels, Darcy and Lizzy confirmed that they were expecting their first child in the final chapters of the first novel, “Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy.” Per my typical modus operandi I leisurely wove her pregnancy into the adventures spanning the second novel – “Loving Mr. Darcy” – and through most of the third. The Darcy firstborn’s much-anticipated appearance happens near the end of “My Dearest Mr. Darcy” after a dramatic series of events.
Struggling against the tendrils of sleep attempting to ensnare him, Darcy shook his head and crawled across the expanse of cooled sheets to pull the curtains back. Peeking drowsy eyes through the crack, he scanned the room and finally noted Elizabeth sitting on the sofa before the fireplace, logs nothing but smoldering embers.
“Elizabeth?” he whispered, voice husky and barely audible. No answer was forthcoming; in fact, she did not move. Alarm bells began to toll in his fogged mind and with a jolt he was wide awake. He sat up further, impervious to the blast of cold hitting his unclothed torso, “Elizabeth,” spoken much stronger.
No reply. Nothing. That was it! In a flash he was out of the bed and to her side, nakedness inconsequential. He knelt before her, hands on her knees, but she seemed unaware of his presence. She sat rigid, hands pressed flat on her thighs, eyes closed as she inhaled and exhaled with a steady rhythm. Her face was calm with a tiny crease between her flawless brows the only apparent indication of some sort of distress.
“Elizabeth! Speak to me!” He nearly screamed it, fingers digging into her knees. Elizabeth shook her head imperceptibly, continuing her deep breathing, and ignoring him. Just as he was about to shake her or run yelling from the room for assistance, she inhaled hugely, releasing the air with a rush.
Then she opened her eyes, staring directly into his troubled gaze a foot away. Her eyes sparkled happily, readily seen in the gloom, with faint hints of anxiety and pain evident. She reached up and ran her fingers through his hair, Darcy paralyzed with a host of emotions all warring for dominance and none prevailing.
“Are you prepared to be a father, Fitzwilliam? I do hope so as I am nearly certain today will be the day.”
And so it begins! Oh man, I had SO much fun writing the birth sequence! It was a chapter I anticipated for months as I wrote methodically in order, living through every pregnant ache and joy along with Darcy and Lizzy. I was anxious to speed it forward but forced to take it step by step just as we do in real life. In fact I think the writing of her pregnancy took close to a whole gestation! But it was worth the wait and I have to say that I am very proud of how it all turned out.
Naturally concessions were made due to the time period. Research was necessary to present a birth that was in line with early 19-th century medicine and culture rather than the clinical, high-tech environment I am used to. Who would have delivered the baby? Could Darcy be present? What was the medical knowledge of the day? Where would the birth take place? How would the baby be cared for? I did my best to answer those questions, inject some humor amid the stress, highlight the emotions involved, and pull the reader into the scene. Hopefully everyone will agree, and fall as in love with the Darcy baby as I have.
Now, tell us about one of your favorite birth scenes from a movie, TV show, or book.