Nash was was filled with wonder and delight by the news that he would finally be father.
He set about doing everything he could to make her pregnancy an easy one. In addition to his own work, he took on half of hers.
The proceeds from their last successful trips to the market were enough to buy a cow. (Imagine this is just one cow. I found CC later. They couldn’t have afforded THREE cows).
Babies needed milk, after all. What if there wasn’t enough milk?
In the meantime, Emmaline set about learning to make cheese. Milk itself was difficult to keep fresh to sell at the market, but cheese would bring a great price.
Emmaline had heard stories about pregnancy, but that wasn’t the same as living it. The persistent nausea and aches wore her down.
She was boundlessly grateful to Nash for all his help, both the big things and the little things, like a backrub when she felt achiest.
She tried to stay positive, but she knew that pregnancies were dangerous. She had been old enough to remember when her mother lost what would have been another baby brother, and a woman in her childhood village had died in childbirth.
There were so many things that could go wrong, and the fear struck her at odd moments when Nash was away fishing.
Still her pregnancy seemed to be progressing normally. When she was far enough along to share the news, they invited Aunt Ruby and Uncle Gerbald to see the farm. Emmaline was so proud of the little home they’d built for themselves.
Aunt Ruby had delivered a healthy little boy, and they named him Adam. He was old enough now to stay with neighbors for an afternoon while the Weavers went visiting.
They were thrilled to learn that Emmaline was expecting. Their children would be close together in age. Uncle Gerbald was especially delighted. Fatherhood was sitting well with him. He loved babies, and he thought everyone should have at least one.
Nash still hadn’t proven himself as a worthy husband in their eyes, however. One sarcastic remark about parenting life, and he found himself on the receiving end of a long lecture from Aunt Ruby. She knew what Emmaline was going through, she insisted, and she needed a husband who would take his responsibility seriously!
Nash just hung his head and didn’t even try to defend himself.
“She means well,” Emmaline said when they had gone.
“I know,” Nash said with a rueful grin. “I have a reputation. I understand that they want to protect you, but that’s my job now.”
At last, as they were settling down to bed one evening, the moment came that she’d been both anticipating and dreading. Contractions came, fast and painful.
Now was the time. Nash was helpless, and he hated being helpless. As the pain grew, Emmaline was struck by a sudden terror — could she handle childbirth? Was it too much for her?
It turned out she could after all. In due time, she delivered a baby boy, who they named Alair.
Time passed in an exhausted haze for a while. Tending to little Alair was the most challenging thing Emmaline had ever done. Nash built her a rocking chair so she could at least rest while she was feeding him.
And he took the next trip to the market because she couldn’t leave.
The air was growing colder. Winter was not too far away. They set about drying fish and storing all the food they could toward a time when the garden would go dormant and the ponds freeze over.
Alair continued to grow up healthy and strong. At last, Emmaline decided he was strong enough to leave home, and she insisted on presenting him to the Watcher at church on Sunday. Nash trailed along sullenly, thinking of other things.
The village blessed the littlest Howland and wished him long life.
All the women, her aunt in particular, were full of advice.
Nash caught up with his friend from his workhouse days.
Emmaline hurried to bring in the last harvest as frost loomed.
Then the pond froze over. There could expect no more fish until Spring.
The Harvest Fest came, and the entire village held a feast in the meeting hall above the market to celebrate the year’s bounty.
Little Alair slept in a makeshift bed of straw in the corner while everyone laughed and ate and visited around him.
Everyone brought something to share. They ate until they were almost too full to roll home.
They had cold and careful rationing to look forward to for a while now.
But there was a light in the long dark. There would be another baby soon.
Alair grew into a healthy and active toddler with his father’s hair and his mother’s eyes.
Nash jumped into the task of teaching his son his first words, which proved to be a frustrating job.
Before winter hit with full force, they were blessed with a bout of false summer. The pond thawed enough for Nash to catch a few more fish, and Emmaline was able to glean a bit more from the garden. She thanked the Watcher for their generosity. Her life was full of joy in ways she could never have imagined a few short years ago.
One the first day of winter, it was time for the baby to come.
This time Nash had an important role. He kept Alair out of her way as she did what was needed.
She delivered a beautiful baby girl who already had a shock of her mother’s hair.
This delivery left her much more drained than the last one.
And as much as she tried to soldier on, she was growing weaker.
As she readied herself to go out in the morning, she was struck by a wave of lightheadedness. She set down her little girl just in case.
And then she collapsed on the floor.
Nash came downstairs to the sound of the baby’s cries and found her. She was already gone. After six short, wonderful years of marriage, she had to leave her beloved family behind. Her only wish was that it could have been longer.
Numb with grief, he named the baby girl Emma after her mother.
I’m sorry guys! I was sitting there with my kid, who was having fun watching the challenge. And I said, “You have to roll to see if the baby survives, and there’s a very small chance of the mother dying in childbirth.” Then I rolled for the mom and got a 1 on a d20, which was the only roll that would have killed her.
And thus passes my founder. I was really attached to her. The challenge will have to take a different path from here. Nash will have to remarry. I’m going to take my cheat for this generation to try to keep one of Emmaline’s children alive to be heir, but I’ll have to decide whether Nash’s children or Ruby and Gerbald’s children are my backup heirs.
I guess this is what I signed up for.