We were inland that fall. Then winter settled in. We always lived with Bobby wherever we were. My husband and Bobby used to travel to work on their traps. When they left, they used to be gone for a week at a time. I think Daisy was five years old at that time.
I woke up very early in the mornings as soon as it was dawn. I used to tidy up inside my home, before I when outside to work. I was happy when I was outside cutting firewood. I used to prepare a lot of firewood. I used to cut firewood almost everyday. There were also night lines that I used to go and check. I sometimes left Daisy. I told her what she should do – such as not to do anything with the wood stove when I wasn’t around. Luckily, the distance wasn’t that far where I used to go. I used to let her come with me occasionally. I still did a little hunting for myself close by when I was left alone. Fortunately, we were not hungry because beaver was plentiful. We ate beaver and we didn’t have much of other things. I cut firewood almost every morning. When the men came back, they used to bring beaver. And after a week, they would leave again.
Then it happened one morning. I still cut firewood that morning because I still didn’t feel it very much. I didn’t want my firewood to run out and I still made firewood ready for when I wouldn’t be able to cut anymore. I felt that I was in labour and I knew that I would have the baby soon. I still didn’t stop working actively outside. Then I thought I should bring in firewood. I didn’t stop what I was working on actively because I was happy when I was moving actively when I didn’t feel anything wrong with me. Then about midday when I felt the contractions occasionally. I stopped cutting the firewood because I thought that I already had enough firewood. I brought them in. I didn’t bring in much for the time being.
I worked actively inside preparing. Then I felt my contractions were more often. I was sure then that it will happen. I prepared. I put water on the stove to get it ready. I felt the contractions more often. I didn’t tell Daisy because she still didn’t know what was going on. She was playing inside. I didn’t say anything to her. I put a sheet where I would be able to lie down because that was what I saw done when a woman was giving birth. When I lay down, I didn’t feel comfortable. I thought, I’ll sit up instead because it was better for me to sit up. Then I only had a few contractions when I knew my child was emerging. Only when the baby emerged did I lay down. Then my child was born and I sat up.
I saw my child and it seemed that it was just a movement in a birth sack. I thought, why does it look like that? It was moving. I thought, I will bust this thing. I busted the sheet and she started to cry. I still didn’t cut the umbilical cord. I was surprised to see this because I haven’t seen a child looking like this.
I cut the cord after I did this. I cut it first before I tied the umbilical cord. WhatI did with the cord is where the cord has blood in it, I squeezed out the blood. Then Itied the umbilical cord closed.
I was worried that I might not be able to handle my child properly because there was no one around to look after her for me. Only what I thought, that is what I did with my child. There was no one there who could be close by.
As soon as a child was born, the child was washed immediately. I took the water that was on the stove and I poured it into a bowl. I wiped my child clean. Then I finished what I wanted to do and I put her in a moss bag. When I finished doing that, I placed her on the side. As soon as I placed her, the afterbirth fell out. It seemed as though I was watched to do what I had to do. That is what I think. I was doing well when that happened to me. I still was very happy even though there was no one near. Then I cleaned up myself and there was nothing wrong with me. I was mostly sitting up before I gave birth. I took care of myself and I didn’t feel anything wrong with me. I occasionally fed the stove. Then night fell.
As soon as I finished taking care of myself, I wondered what should I give my child to drink. When a child was born in the bush, I saw that something was given to the baby to drink. I remembered the beaver broth that was there and I heated up that beaver broth because that was what I always drank. I heated up the broth before I could breast feed her. I gave her a drink with a spoon and she seemed to like it. She really drank quite a bit. That was what I used to give her to drink. I still placed my child on my chest and in the morning, my breasts began to flow. It seemed as though they flowed very well. I heated up the broth when I drank it because I was told not drink it when it was cold. I was told to be sure to heat up any broth that I drank. What I was ordered to do, that was what I wanted to do. I remembered that which was said to me, when I first had a child. I didn’t forget that which was said to me, even though there was no one with me.
Then that night, she fell asleep. I prepared Daisy to go to sleep also. Then the firewood that I brought in all burned out because it was still day when I brought them in. I kept the fire going constantly. I thought, what should I do. I wonder if I should go out? Then I thought, I’ll go out because I’ll dress properly. I got dressed and went out. I brought in firewood. It was really a cold night. It was in January and it was really cold during that time. I brought in firewood and my sweat was turning to vapour in the cold. I stopped because I thought that would be enough for now and I would bring more in tomorrow. That night, I didn’t sleep at all.
When I gave birth, nobody came by for seven nights. I didn’t sense the presence of these men who were hunting for me also. I kept the fire going day and night because I had already prepared for when I wouldn’t be able to cut firewood. That is why I constantly cut firewood. The men didn’t have to cut the firewood for me because of the happiness I felt being active also. It seemed as though I wasn’t tired. I didn’t feel sleepiness because I wanted to take care of my newborn child.
On the eighth night, my living companions returned. My husband came first.I didn’t say anything as he came in. My lamp wasn’t shining bright because beaver fat, porcupine fat, or lard was used for light long ago. He came in and kissed us as he returned. I still didn’t say anything. He also kissed Daisy. As he was going to the back of the dwelling to undress, he said, “What are you guys up to?” He still wasn’t aware that I had already had a baby. He still wasn’t aware that I wasn’t bulging anymore. “There is nothing wrong happening with us,” I answered him. When I spoke to him again, I said, “I had already given birth.” He exclaimed, “Waasaa.” He was very regretful that he was gone. He said, “What are you doing with the baby? How are you? Are you fortunately doing well?” I said, “There is nothing wrong with her. There she is lying over there.” He picked her up and kissed her.
Bobby still hadn’t arrive. He said they came back and that they were fine also. My husband was regretful that he wasn’t here when I gave birth. He still might not have midwifed if he was here anyway. Then Bobby arrived. He was told also that I already had a baby. He said he was regretful too. He said, “It was bad timing when we left.” I guess they were worried about what might have happened to me when they were not here. Then I told them I still hadn’t slept since I had given birth. They really were startled when I said this. My husband immediately said to me, “Really try to sleep tonight.” He said to me, “You don’t feel anything wrong?” I answered, “No, I have no thoughts there is anything wrong.” I said, “You guys are not aware of the depleted firewood.” He said, “No.” I didn’t burn the firewood that was far back. Only the ones that were near were the ones that I really burned. They seemed very regretful. I told them, “There is nothing wrong happening with us and I didn’t think anything wrong even though there was no one when this happened to me.” My husband immediately said to me, “Don’t do anything.” I said to him, “I have already done everything.” I told him that I had already gone outside the night I gave birth.
I told them of the story of the morning after when I gave birth. I didn’t have water. Daisy was already awake and I told her, “I’ll fetch water.” I fetched some water. The lake was a bit far from where we got our water. I got dressed. I chiselled a hole in the ice and it seemed as if I was warming up. I was then able to puncture a hole in the ice. Then I returned home with water. That was the small story I told them.
My husband said, “Try to sleep.” This was on the eighth night. He gave me headache medicine even though I didn’t have a headache. He said, “Take it, anyway.” I still wasn’t able to sleep. I wasn’t feeling sleepy. I just felt frustrated when I lying there. I wasn’t able to fall asleep.
The next night, on the ninth night, I was able to sleep for a while. I still didn’t feel that there was anything wrong. I guess I was given the strength for which I did. I was not worried and I thought that there was nothing wrong. Even though there was no one there to help me, it didn’t matter too because I thought there was someone who was looking after me from above. I didn’t doubt the one who takes care of us from above. I didn’t have any doubts and I didn’t have any worries. I wasn’t wishing that there was someone around when I was giving birth. I felt pleased inside and I didn’t think there was anything wrong also when that happened to me.
The men who used to leave me didn’t leave for a while after that. Of course they broughtbeaver again. I wasn’t allowed to skin beaver, even though I was the one who alwaysskinned beaver. My husband said, “Don’t immediately work on anything that is cold.” I hadalready washed the clothes of our child. I was already working with water. But I stillwanted to take care of myself and not to
get myself cold. I really wanted to take care of myself.
My child was wearing her umbilical cord for three days. That was what I really wanted to take care of it properly. When her umbilical cord came off, it was completely dry. It wasn’t moist like other children’s umbilical cords. I was really happy when her umbilical cord came off. That was the only thing that worried me.
We didn’t see the houses for a while because it was only until summer when we came to where the houses stood. My husband did that baptism ceremony. She was small when she was born. I don’t know how many pounds she was because we didn’t have weight scales when we were in the bush. He still did that baptism because we didn’t trust ourselves if we were able to raise her before we could come to where the houses stood. Fortunately, nothing wrong happened with her.
Elijah Ratt and his family lived not too far from us. We knew that Maudie was having a child. We journeyed to them. I think it was about a month after when we travelled to where they were and that was where Charlie was born. I helped out when Charlie was born and I was the one who cut the cord also. Fortunately, nothing wrong happened to his mother. Charlie was also doing well. That was where I helped out midwifing also.
Later, we were here at the houses when we came down the river. I saw the old ladies whoare no longer with us. They kissed me. They heard what had happened to me when I was theonly one there when giving birth. They said to me, “You were truly strong and stillnothing wrong happened to you even when you were alone.” They said, “Don’t do this again.Don’t have a baby just anywhere.” I didn’t say anything. I just laughed at what they saidto me. I wondered if they were the ones who were able to decide where I gave birth. Thatwas what I thought of them. Of course, that was where many of my other children wereborn.