Infant mortality remained very high in Late Victorian England, with nearly 20% of infants dying in their first year. Don’t marry that percentage, because the stats of mortality in the 19th century are highly contested by today’s statisticians and could be distorted by baby farm deaths, where babies were intentionally killed. But still everyone agrees the deaths were high.
However, I can say sanitary conditions were dismal, bacterial infections a major cause of death, and antibiotics had yet to be discovered. Worse yet, the baby bottles were impossible to sterilize and bought milk was often tainted with chemicals.
Thus, mothers were strongly advised to breastfeed their own children, preferable to hiring a wet nurse, and strongly preferable to feeding with a baby bottle.
A change in baby bottle design occurred in 1894, claiming to be easier to clean.
Note the right end of the bottle is an open mouth. That’s so you can pour in the milk. A metal cap fitted over it once it was filled. I expect it leaked but this model claimed to be far more sanitary than the prior bottles and it quickly became a best seller.
Now all you had to worry about was the milk you put inside it. Yes, the Victorians had a problem with tainted milk supplies.
End result: The doctors were absolutely correct. Bottle feeding added serious risks to your baby’s health.
While Xavier’s plan to take a holiday in Europe for Vic to have her baby incognito works well enough, complications during the birth almost takes both mother and child. Dr. Connors performs his first cesarean ever. While successful, it Vic takes months to recover. A prisoner to the bed, she spends her time encouraging marriage between two of their employees. Unfortunately, Xavier’s original negotiations with Tubs prevents the giant from acting upon his heart. While Xavier chases ladies enjoying the sun, Vic convinces Tubs to resign his service.
When Xavier and Vic return to England, the head of Scotland Yard awaits them at the dock. A great change in Parliament has occurred due to the fallout of their last investigation. England is crumbling beneath an outbreak of crimes and their help is desperately needed before lives are ruined and jobs are lost.
Julia pointed to it. “There’s my burden.”
Vic tried to roll herself to the basket but the pillows stopped the wheelchair cold. Tubs walked to the basket and brought it to her.
Inside lay a tiny porcelain-white baby with a shocking red tuff of hair. The child woke and stared up at her with bright blue eyes. “She’s beautiful,” Vic whispered.
“What’s her name?”
“I don’t know.”
How the bloody hell couldn’t she know? And then the reason came to Vic. “You don’t plan to keep her.”
“Have you not listened to a word I’ve said? I am a great actress. My business depends upon my talent. There is no room in my life for a baby.”
“What do you plan to do with her?” Vic asked.
Julia wrapped her arms into the hanging fabrics, and swung softly in a slow circle. “There’s a woman, Mrs. Edwards, who takes care of babies for fifteen shillings a month. I thought I’d let her have it.”
Vic knew of the woman, and in a panic almost suggested Julia should give the child to Lady Abigail, but realized her husband would no doubt hurt this child if he had the chance. Still, Vic couldn’t allow Julia to send the child to its death.
“Mrs. Edward charges so little because she either sells or kills the babies.”
Julia continued to swing about her fabrics as if she were a young girl without a care in the world. “You said the baby was pretty, so maybe someone will take it.” She then stopped and faced Vic. “Either way, it’s out of my hands.”
Julia was damn lucky Vic was stuck in this chair, because honest to God, otherwise, she would have wrung the young woman’s neck. To calm herself, she focused on the incredibly small baby in the basket on her lap. It suckled on a bottle of milk, which to Vic’s nose smelled sour. Remembering Dr. Connors message about baby bottles causing a great deal of deaths, she gently removed the rubber stopper from its mouth.
“I’ll save you the fifteen shillings a month and take the child,” Vic offered.
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Liza O’Connor was raised badly by feral cats, left the South/Midwest and wandered off to find nicer people on the east coast. There she worked for the meanest man on Wall Street, while her psychotic husband tried to kill her three times. (So much for finding nicer people.) Then one day she declared enough, got a better job, divorced her husband, and fell in love with her new life where people behaved normally. But all those bad behaviors has given her lots of fodder for her humorous romances. Please buy these books, because otherwise, she’ll become grumpy and write troubled novels instead. They will likely traumatize you.
You have been warned.
Mostly humorous books by Liza:
Ghost Lover—Two British brothers fall in love with the same young woman. Ancestral ghost is called in to fix the situation. And there’s a ghost cat that roams about the book as well. (Humorous Contemporary Romance)
Untamed & Unabashed—The youngest of the Bennet sisters, Lydia, tells her story. A faithful spinoff from Pride & Prejudice.
A Long Road to Love Series: (Humorous Contemporary odd Romance)
Worst Week Ever — Laugh out loud week of disasters of Epic proportions.
Oh Stupid Heart — The heart wants what it wants, even if it’s impossible.
Coming to Reason — There is a breaking point when even a saint comes to reason.
Climbing out of Hell — The reconstruction of a terrible man into a great one.
The Hardest Love — Is to love oneself. Sam’s story.
The Adventures of Xavier & Vic Sleuth series: (Late Victorian/Mystery/Romance)
The Troublesome Apprentice — The greatest sleuth in Victorian England hires a young man who turns out to be a young woman.
The Missing Partner — Opps! The greatest sleuth in Victorian England goes missing, leaving Vic to rescue him, a suffragette, and about 100 servants. Not to mention an eviscerating cat. Yes, let’s not mention the cat.
A Right to Love — A romantic detour for Jacko. Want to see how amply rewarded Jacko was when he & Vic save an old woman from Bedlam?
The Mesmerist — The Mesmerist can control people from afar and make them murder for her. Worse yet, Xavier Thorn has fallen under her spell.
Well Kept Secrets — Far too many secrets are being kept and as we all know, secrets have a way of coming out.
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