It was so nice to be part of the shaky, slightly crazed, and mostly delirious relief our entire class evinced, this morning, meeting Dr. Welch to hand in our papers.  A little agreement on feeling fraudulent goes a long way, among grad students.  Anyways.  After handing in my first paper (which turned out to be better than I thought, though still a huge question mark), I have settled down to start the writing process on paper #2.  I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to suddenly have no anxiety.  Somehow that first paper beat it out of me (or the day of bliss did, or God answered my desperate prayers, or all of the above).  Today, a gray, windy day, I’m silently and cozily finishing notes on research, having more coffee, and getting ready to put together an outline for tomorrow, which will be the the day I start writing.

But sixth study-break first.

Part of my research for this paper — which focuses on Jean Rhys’ construction of [Mr. Rochester] as an adherent to the British colonial “creolization” myth in Wide Sargasso Sea — among other things, whew, oh dear — has been looking up people’s private writings.  I’ve read some of Jean Rhys’ (sad!) letters, and today have been looking through relevant journal entries by Maria Nugent, the wife of a guy who was appointed some post in Jamaica in 1801.  This has been a long & tiresome set-up, but if you want, bear with me.  A few of these entries follow her first pregnancy in Jamaica, and a nurse (for the baby) that her husband found for her.  I’ve always been fascinated by women who decide not to breastfeed their babies, and everyone who makes this decision makes it for different reasons, but Maria’s was poignant, and sad.

16th. […] General N. [Maria’s husband] drove the doctor into Spanish Town.  On their way they met a Mrs. Hamilton, the wife of one of the Irish soldiers on the 85th.  It seems that she has come to offer herself as my nurse. […] Doctor L. … has persuaded General N. it will be such a good thing to have her in the house, in case I can’t take care of the dear baby myself.  I have consented […] to receive her, and to give up the delightful idea of nursing, if it should be found best for the darling child” (118-9).

17th.  Don’t sleep all night for thinking of nurse Hamilton and the future.  […] My dear N. and I all alone during the morning, and he consoles me very much; for he says it would be impossible for me to do justice to my dear baby in this horrid climate, and with the many anxieties of a public situation, and that Mrs. Hamilton’s fair and fat little boy shews what a good nurse she really does make.  Try to be satisfied” (119).

October 1st.  Nurse Hamilton came; feel half angry at her superseding me in one of the most precious parts of my expected duty, but play with her fair little boy, till I was quite in good humour with the mother. […] Still full of jealousy and worry about nurse Hamilton, for why should I not be a mother indeed” (122).

So, that’s sad.  I started to write about it, and it turned into a big paragraph of my thoughts on the “advice” (well meant, no doubt) of the male doctor and the husband.  So, nevermind.  On a different note, here’s a funny entry, after the birth of the baby:

9th. […] General N. took the baby his walk, but has promised me never again to lay his little charge down on a sofa, and run with his gun to shoot a hawk, which I found he had done to-day” (127).

Ha ha.