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Written by Lizzy M.
(9/1/2005 4:58 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Childbirth! Oh no!, penned by Cathy A
I read Claire Tomalin's JA bio earlier this summer and was really struck by how hard childbirth was on women at that time. I mean, I knew it was hard on women, but the Tomalin bio made it so REAL. Many of Jane Austen's sisters-in-law became pregnant immediately after getting married and then pretty much remained in that condition for the rest of their lives--until they died in childbirth. I know my 3 pregnancies took a toll on my body; hard to imagine what 11 pregnancies would do! My heart breaks thinking about it--here was a society in which marriage and motherhood was more or less the only "career" option available to women, yet they saw plenty of evidence around them that this was dangerous, often deadly, work. That had to be terrifying. I do believe JA came to the conclusion that she had made a rather lucky escape, after years of watching her sisters-in-laws go through repeated pregnancies and, all too often, early death as a result. Very sobering stuff!
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