Two and a half months after the accident, our third daughter, Nikki was born. She was a beautiful baby, but that great surge of love I felt when I held her in my arms was tinged with sadness. I felt I had let her down and she had no friends. My post partum blues were aggravated by the pain of cracked nipples. While I was pregnant, my doctor had advised me to use some cream to toughen the nipple, but I arrogantly disregarded his advice, having breastfed two babies with no problem. But on her second or third day in this world, to my horror, my baby vomited blood. Only when I realised it was my blood not hers did I relax. Friends suggested I take her off the breast and change to the bottle, but I was determined that I would continue to feed her myself. And with the aid of Friar’s Balsam, we succeeded. The nipples healed and the baby thrived.
I really missed my family but once again, I was blessed. My mother arrived a month or so later with a suitcase full of knitted garments for the three little girls. These were very gratefully received as the Johannesburg nights were cold.To warm up, Mum and I played ‘Jumping Joan’ every morning in the lounge with the children. It couldn’t have helped her poor arthritic knees.
We decided we would like to have Nikki christeneded while my mother was with us, so we found the closest Methodist church and phoned the minister. When he asked us why we wanted the baby baptised, he wasn’t happy with our answer. Baptism in the Methodist church is the symbolic welcoming of the child into the family of the church. We hadn’t been part of that family. But we soon became a part and promised to raise our child in the Christian faith with the support of the congregation.
We found ourselves welcomed with open arms and almost at once I had a circle of friends and a social life. Women thrive on the friendship of other females. We have an innate understanding of each other’s emotional needs in a way that no male partner ever has, however loving they may be. And so, my next ten months in South Africa were happier than the previous fourteen months had been, at last buoyed up by the support of friends.