By the time the midwife arrived, Cosette had decided that she would never allow Philippe into her bed again. Though she had hardly forgotten the pain of Aimee’s birth, nothing could prepare her for the renewed reality of that pain. The midwife at least assured her that she was making good progress—a few more hours, and everything should be over. It would be easier this time, the woman said kindly as Sophie brought in some tea for her. Aimee had been her first child; the births after that always came easier.
Cosette certainly hoped she was right.
When she had woken with the first light of dawn to find that things had started, she had sent her husband downstairs knowing he would stay there. Someone had to look after Aimee, and besides, most men considered childbirth “women’s work” and preferred not to be a part of such things.
Little Aimee had turned a year old three months ago and had gotten all sorts of things she did not actually need—new dolls, though she already had an army of them; tiny little frocks she’d probably quickly grow out of; and all manner of other toys. Her father had once said he did not have the disposition to spoil, but things had clearly changed. She now sat with one of those new dolls, gnawing on its hand, at her father’s feet.