Historical setting: 589 C.E. The road to Ligugé
Today I meet Ana for our ride and ask her if she and Colleen have a plan if they find the same circumstance as described in the midwife’s journal.
Ana tells me, “It’s very helpful to know what happened in that instance, though it doesn’t offer any medical information we can use. Now we’ve decided that when we are called to the chamber if we find Lady Elise partly wrapped for burial I will follow Colleen as a student would, letting her deliver the child alone with a blade in the center of the abdomen where the baby is usually most easily heard to be living. We’ve been pretending a practice of this with an oat bag as the mom. She will use the smallest cut she can to remove the baby, and as soon as the baby is delivered she will turn her attention completely to the father and the living baby for the purpose of letting me work alone on the corpse. She will have him focus all of his attention on the good fortune of a living son; but also, hopefully she can take him from the room, while I stay with the body. I will have a chance then to examine the remains and learn what I need to know of a woman’s anatomy.
“But Lady Elise seems so healthy and well-prepared for this, and with two midwives, we hardly can imagine there would be any need to make this my opportunity for a lesson. We are prepared to meet this either in a normal way with no deaths at all, but also, if Lady Elise is found to have died as described in the journal, I will be able to learn from it. Whatever happens, at least something good can come of it.”
Ana continues, “Lady Elise’s family is prominent in Poitiers, and her family’s estate is also on the river near the earl’s villa. We knew that Elise’s mother knew the tragic history of young brides coming to death in childbirth at the earl’s villa, and she feared for her daughter’s safety. That was why she chose a midwife carefully and gifted Colleen to Elise. So, on finding the journal, Colleen and I took a walk up to Elise’s family with our concern. Her mother was outraged.”