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  1. #1
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    Default A bit of a sad story

    As the title says, this story is sad [at least to me] but probably has/had happened to many families.

    At the time of the Cholera outbreak in 1849 [Rickmansworth], my 3Xgreat grandparents had 9 children living with them. 3 of the children died in the space of less than a week, but life went on and they had 2 more children.

    One of the surviving children, went into domestic service, succumbed to the temptations of life away from the family nest, became pregnant and was unmarried. Not unusual then, or now for that matter.

    With the imminent birth, she returned to the family nest, and again from my experience of researching such situations around 1860-1880, this alkso was not unusual. But what happened later surprised me!!

    July 17, 1869 a little girl was born. This wee lass was baptised September 19, 1869 and given the name Catharine.

    October 18, 1869, the mother dies. Her father, Robert is in attendance. The cause of death was - Tumour of the stomach and exhaustion. The exhaustion component I can undestand, but the primary cause is my interest.

    Jan-Mar. q. 1870, baby Catharine dies. I have her death certificate on order, but know for a fact it is the daughter of the girl that died in October. When the cert. arrives, what is it likely to state as cause of death? I suspect malnutrition due to the mother's medical problems

    Several questions come to mind, and probably more to the responders of this thread, but remenber we're talking 140 years ago:
    1] Was the baby full-term?
    2] How would a baby, with a mother suffering with, presumably, cancer [unless there are other forms of tumours] survive in the womb and grow to a point of maturity that said child could be delivered?
    3] What methods of delivery were available at the time to a mother with her problems and how expensive/diificult was it to arrange for such a delivery?

    Thanks for any interest in this thread.
    Colin

  2. #2
    MarkJ
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    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Rowledge View Post
    1] Was the baby full-term?
    No idea, but I would suggest the child must have been close to term at least to survive at all in the 1800's.

    2] How would a baby, with a mother suffering with, presumably, cancer [unless there are other forms of tumours] survive in the womb and grow to a point of maturity that said child could be delivered?
    Depends on the type of cancer and whether it was causing any issues at the time. Although some forms of cancer take a long time to develop, others can grow very rapidly. The type of tumour and its location would all be relevant to the effects it may or may not have.
    My own guess is that mother either didn't have the tumour during the pregnancy or it was still in the early stages. Three months is certainly a short time to survive with a tumour, but it could have been a very aggressive one which was perhaps already there during the latter part of the pregnancy - symptoms may well have been masked by the pregnancy.


    3] What methods of delivery were available at the time to a mother with her problems and how expensive/diificult was it to arrange for such a delivery?

    Thanks for any interest in this thread.
    Colin
    I would assume the delivery would have been normal enough. There seems to be no evidence to suggest the tumour was either present or causing any problem.
    The certificate for the baby may give further clues, but I doubt the death of the child will be directly related to the cause of death of the mother.

    Mark

  3. #3
    Mutley
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    I am not medical at all, in fact know very little but just a few thoughts.

    Tumour may be another way of describing an abnormal swelling back then, I doubt they did an autopsy.
    There may be other reasons for a woman, after giving birth, to develop an abdominal swelling.

    Mum's death may be because of something that happened after the birth, during the birth or because of the birth or even just co-incidental and nothing to do with it. We can speculate for ever more but until you receive the reason for the death of the baby we can have no idea if there is a connection.

  4. #4
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    Mutley’s point about abnormal swellings reminded me of a Victorian era biography that mentioned a woman accused of being ‘with child but without benefit of wedlock.’ She was subsequently shunned by polite society and died within months of the scandal. Later, an autopsy revealed not a foetus but a very large ovarian cyst.

    Twenty years ago, one of my colleagues was diagnosed with leukaemia when she was in the third month of pregnancy. Determined to keep the baby and live to see her child, she refused any treatment until after the birth. A healthy baby girl was delivered full term and the next day mum commenced chemo/radiotherapy. Sadly, mum died six months later.

    Ali

  5. #5
    Loves to help with queries. JillianR's Avatar
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    It sometimes happens that a fibroid becomes enlarged during pregnancy, I believe they can become as large as a melon. Mine (it wasn't that large) disappeared completely after childbirth, however my mother in law told me other people have needed operations for them, sometimes resulting in a hysterectomy. I think it has to do with hormonal changes during pregnancy. Any ladies out there know more about fibroids?

  6. #6
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    Colin
    Unfortunately some tumours can get very aggressive during pregnancy due to the hormones. Those tumours may not necessarily be uterine so possibly not affect the delivery. The could for example be bowel or kidney. Yes I agree it is also worth remembering the diagnosis would be a bit suspect and other conditions may be possible as suggested.
    ELMA

  7. #7
    A very furry Feen! Feen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Rowledge View Post
    As the title says, this story is sad [at least to me] but probably has/had happened to many families.
    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Rowledge View Post
    As the title says, this story is sad [at least to me] but probably has/had happened to many families.
    Hi Colin,

    This may be somewhat off-topic but I was interested that you qualified your description of the story as sad, by saying sad "at least to me". I thought it was sad too and will be interested to read the information provided in baby Catharine's death certificate. I wondered whether her family had been able to find or afford anyone to nurse her after her mother died?

    There are several stories in my own family tree I find particularly sad and haunting but sometimes when I share them with friends, they make comments such as "well isn't that sort of thing always happening?" or "didn't that happen to most families?" And of course most Victorian families had a lot of sorrow to cope with, particularly around child bereavement, but the frequency of those events didn't diminish the sorrow for the families concerned, and IMHO it doesn't diminish the sadness we feel when we find out what happened to those particular individuals.

    In Dad's family tree I have a 2 x great-uncle Fred Farley, a pub landlord, who according to reports, was mentally disturbed following a blow to the head. In the late 1850s Fred tried to defraud several Birmingham businesses with a much younger female accomplice who was clearly his mistress (and according to the police, very pregnant); he was eventually caught and sent to jail. His pub and all his belongings were put up for auction by the bailiffs and the day before the sale his infant son wandered out of the backyard, fell in to a stream and drowned. This must have been unbearable for Fred - and even more so for his wife, my 2 x great-aunt Ann, who must have been shocked, frantic and distracted coping with the scandal, the betrayal, the bankruptcy, the sudden change of circumstances.

    In Mum's family tree 3 x great aunt and uncle, Margaret and Andrew Wark, lost three of their children in a railway accident at Wigan in 1873. Andrew and the only surviving Wark child, David, died 10 years later leaving Margaret alone - pretty much in mourning until she died aged 82 in 1911. There is also great-uncle Dave Watson whose energy and cheekiness shine through his photos. He persuaded his parents to sign the consent form for him to go and fight in WW1 when he was still under-age... and he was killed in July 1918 aged just 18.

    I don't claim that any of these stories, or yours about baby Catharine, tell of uniquely sorrowful events, but that doesn't diminish the validity of each individual story, or the sadness we feel here in the present when we discover what happened to our ancestors. Actually I think it would make us somewhat less human, if we couldn't, or wouldn't, empathise with the individuals caught up in those long ago tragedies.

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