“What you doing?” Six-year-old Vera swung on the end of the table.
“Sewing.” Dora grunted, concentrating on guiding the thin cambric in a straight line with her left hand while turning the sewing machine handle with her right.
“What you sewing?” Vera persisted, kicking the table leg, making it jiggle and causing a wiggle in an otherwise straight seam. Dora sighed, pulling the cloth from the machine and snipping the thread.
“Dolls clothes.” Dora considered the uneven bit, pulling the fabric over her knee. No, she wouldn’t unpick, the flat fell seam would accommodate and the wiggle wouldn’t show.
Vera’s face brightened. “Where’s the doll?”
“Will’s got it. He’s looking after it for me.” (Ooooh, what a story! Watch out for pimples on your tongue, Dora.)
Vera was disappointed. Will was more than a thousand miles away.
She watched the doll’s layette grow as her sister knitted and sewed and knitted. She helped to fold and pack the finished garments. And waved her sister farewell with the reminder, “We’re coming to visit you for your birthday. Can I play with your doll when we come?”
Dora laughed, kissing the rosebud mouth. “Yes, my poppet, of course you can.”
In anticipation of this first birth, Dora bloomed. Her angular figure softened and her hair and skin glowed. She reveled in her new hometown, pacing the streets until they became familiar. Escorted by the neighbor’s elderly Daschund she visited the Maternity Hospital to book for her confinement, and for regular checks.
The Day came … and passed. A week, three weeks. Will became concerned. The doctor laughed. “Parents have calendars, babies don’t.”
Saturday night. Dora woke, announced, “I feel sick!” and went promptly back to sleep. Will worried until dawn. Over breakfast he established that she was in labor and wanted to take her to the hospital. Armed with the bedside clock and the printed instructions given her by the doctor she pointed out that the contractions were still too widely spaced. At midday they visited the hospital where after a quick check the nursing sister advised her to return in the early evening.
Monday morning early she was taken to theatre. The night had been punctuated with broken sleep, long drawn out and she was tired. The doctor explained the procedure. Dora tried to ignore the pressing cramps of her abdomen, to obey the commands as they were given, but it was hard to relax. It seemed to take so long and there was little respite between commands.
The telephone in the hall rang. A nursing sister ran to answer it, popping her head back around the doorjamb, saying, “You have a son.”
The baby was wrapped and placed in Dora’s arms. She looked in wonder at the soft face, wide eyes and spiky red hair. She knew it would be a son. All the months of waiting were worthwhile, she held him in her arms.
Will came before the theatre work was done. The nursing sister rescued the bedraggled posy clutched in his fist and allowed him five minutes before shooing him out until Dora was settled in the ward.
Ten weeks later early motherhood perplexities were passed and Dora was settled into a comfortable routine with the baby. She was sitting in the sunshiny front room feeding him his bottle when Vera burst through the open doorway. Her excitement faded and her laughter died as she looked at her sister. Tears welled up in her eyes and she stamped her foot.
“It’s only a baby!” Her disappointment was very real and it was a long time before Dora was forgiven and the baby was accepted.
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