A baby is born and abandoned

Continuing my post about my wife’s book which I’m proof reading at the moment……

We left the story yesterday at the point where Kathleen is taking her pregnant friend Veronica back to Wexford with her. You may remember that Veronica’s mother, Betty, has told the feckless father that the baby has miscarried, so that he can be persuaded to cancel the planned wedding.

The trip back across the Irish Sea began with Albert, who loves Kathleen, accompanying them to Liverpool’s Pierhead to see the girls off safely. They are welcomed, as they arrive back, by Kathleen’s mam and dad, Maggie and James. Kathleen is desperate to get back to her Irish home to see her beloved nan and grandad, Sheila and Michael. She’s been worrying about her grandad, but he’s fine and overjoyed to see her back.

In the short time Kathleen and her parents had been living with them, her granddad had come to love her more than anyone else than his wife, Sheila. As soon as she was back home she went out into the garden to see him, and flung her arms around him. He asked her about Veronica and she explained the situation. He tells her that her friend is welcome to stay, but it won’t be up to him for much longer because James – his son-in-law and Kathleen’s dada – will be buying the house. One day, he tells Kathleen, it will be yours. She wants to know that he’ll still be living there with her nan and gets the reassurance she seeks.

Veronica shares a room with Kathleen and helps out with the family business of selling eggs, cakes and the piglets they now breed. Kathleen has become well known and liked in the community, but doesn’t take on any of the local lads who fancy her. She worries what Veronica will do once the baby is born.

The following March, Veronica’s waters break early one Tuesday morning, and she is doubled-up with pain. Kathleen wakes and rouses the rest of the family. Her dada drives off to ask the local midwife for help. In the meantime, Kathleen and her Mum assist her nan who has delivered babies before and knows what to do. The midwife arrives just as the baby is born.

The eight pound-two ounces baby boy is born healthy, with the red hair of Veronica’s dada. His mammy decides that he’ll be called John James after her dada and Kathleen’s. Having heard the baby’s loud wail, James gives him the nickname Jonah. Kathleen’s wider Irish family rally round and provide cast-off clothing, blankets, nappies, a cot and a pram. Veronica seems overcome by all this kindness but is also delighted that the child looks nothing like his father.

Kathleen lets Veronica’s Mum know about the birth and spends as much time as Veronica bathing and bottle-feeding Jonah. However, within a month of the birth, Veronica seems to lose interest in her baby. Kathleen is worried and asks her Mum for advice. Maggie tells her not to worry; it’s ‘baby blues’ and will pass. Veronica’s family send money for her to come home, but a few days later, Veronica says that she’d like to catch the bus into Wexford city ‘to sort something out at the post-office’. No one notices that the bag she carries is bigger than would be expected.

That night, when she fails to return, Kathleen and her mum visit the bus driver who says that he hasn’t seen her since he dropped her off at the bus station in Wexford. When they get back, Kathleen goes up to check Veronica’s room. Her clothes have gone and she’s left a note asking Kathleen to look after Jonah for her as she can’t cope. She can’t return to St Helens but feels that Kathleen can offer Jonah a better life than she’ll ever be able to. She’s seen how Kathleen loves the child and is sure that Jonah will come to see and love her as his mammy.

Kathleen sends a telegram to Albert explaining the situation. After three weeks without hearing from his sister, he writes to Kathleen to say that he’ll be coming out to see her. She’s disappointed that Veronica has not even contacted her mother – surely she could afford a stamp.

Jonah is growing to be a good and contented baby. Kathleen has grown to really love him and he’s smiling at her now. She fears that she’ll be heartbroken when Veronica comes to her senses and decides to reclaim him. She wonders how long to leave things before she applies for adoption and how to tell a child that his mother didn’t want him.

Tomorrow, Albert travels to Ireland.

Today’s featured photo is another in this series accompanying the Irish theme. It’s another that I took in Allihies on the Beara Peninsula in County Cork while on holiday. As with all the others, I took it with my Pentax K3-ii camera. The shot is one I shot of the rugged coastline there. Tomorrow’s photo will be one that I took looking in a different direction.

The EXIF data are 1/15 secs, f/16, 16 mm and ISO 200.

Leave a Reply