While I mainly pen thoughts that parallel my life or musings, such as employment, career, courtship with a 19th century spin; I must admit I am a follower of popular culture (in part because of my previous job). I digress, I attest to being a “Royal watcher.” As La Dauphine from Tiaras and Tianon, refers to the highly anticipated and newest member of the Royal family member; “Baby Cambridge;” I am on the edge of my wingback chair awaiting the news of the child!
Back in the 19th century, the fervor was not so . . . fervent as it is today. Surly, there were journalists camped out at the gates to the palace waiting with baited breathe for the proclamation to be posted and the gun salute to welcome the heir to the world. The glories and openness of Motherhood and pregnancy did not come about until the late 1980s or 1990s. It is that recent. Victorians did not have “bump watch” and “maternity style.” Queen Victoria, like most of the ladies of the day wore their corsets throughout pregnancy. The bump was something to be covered up and hidden from view. It was “distasteful to show.” The “vulgarity” of the woman’s condition as well as the ailments that went along with a 19th century pregnancy had many women secluded from public view (more so than was normally the case for the era.)
Childbirth had to be natural. HAD TO BE. Woman has to endure the Sin of Eve. Queen Victoria demanded to use chloroform to numb her, but she had put up a fight with the attending physician to achieve this. In part because of her use of the chloroform, it became more accepted to use for diminishing the pains of childbirth. As was common, practically the entire British Government was in the birthing room to witness and confirm the birth and the baby had not been switched with another (perhaps live or more robust infant; which has happened enough in England to even warrant this practice). The room was stuffy from the bodies and the Queen in the throes of labor. Just imagine it the Queen, barely 5′ tall laying in a bed, drenched in sweat, pacified to semi-consciousness with literally upward of 50 people present, trying to give birth for the first of (many) times.
Victorian women routinely wrote their last will and testament during their pregnancy. The mortality rate and death from childbirth was so very high. This is assuming, of course, the woman in question could read or write and/or had the means to create a legally binding document. The other morbid activity that consumed women during their gestation was the sowing of their own shroud; should the need arise. Victorians had all sort of mixed feelings about pregnancies, family planning, and child rearing, which I vow not to bore you with until that time comes for me (then I shall bore you with those nuggets of information.)
In my statement to Katherine and Heather from The Victorianachronists; Victoria did not “intend to get pregnant.” She was devoted (obsessed, is more like it) with her new husband. She became with child almost immediately, on the honeymoon. She had no idea how it happened (this is the sad part.) She resented the idea of dealing with a baby when all she wanted to do was spend time with her husband. She resented all of her children for the same reason. At some point, I am sure she figured out (or some soul took pity on her and told her outright) That A+B=Baby. It was said Victoria enjoyed the marriage bed, so she proceeded to have a large family. . . I shall revisit this at a later date.
When the birth of her child happened to be a girl, baby Vicky did not get the full 41 gun salute. An heir was not present. Victoria was even more annoyed at her firstborn for being female. (In the vein of “First, I don’t know how I got pregnant?! Then I have to endure the uncomfortable-ness of the condition, but I’ll resign myself to my Royal Heir-producing duty. And now they tell me, I have a girl?! THAT . . . is so not ideal!”) Even the Commonwealth was a little bit disappointed with the Queen for not producing a boy. Luckily, Albert was beyond delighted to have progeny at all. He was quite the doting father and little Vicky’s champion. It was in part because of his love for his first born who incidentally was a girl, he convinced the Queen to decree all first born daughters of the monarch shall be given the title of Princess Royal. Once, the true heir, and first male, Bertie was born; England went bonkers! The 41 gun salute and all its festivities played out in full. The Monarchy was saved! . . . Now, about that “spare”. . . .
Here is to wishing “Baby Cambridge” a “Welcome to the world, whenever you arrive!” *clinks tea cups with those presents*