of my own,' as she wrote me. C, apparently well during college days, came to decennial the mother of three children, but such an invalid that she only with difficulty sat up during class dinner. D had one child who died at birth, and no other has ever come to her. E, an especially close friend of mine, has one child and longs for more, but her physician husband is unwilling that she should again take the risk, saying she was 'never meant to bear children.' F's case is almost the same; a woman of magnificent physique, she refused to heed her doctor. Her first baby lived, but she barely escaped herself; her second child was sacrificed to save its mother's life; 'and I can never hope for another,' she said to me, her eyes full of tears. G also would not believe her physician, but her hope was finally justified. Though three times she was disappointed, her fourth suffering gave her a son, who, she says, much more than pays for all. H has two strong, beautiful children. 'I wish we had six,' said her husband, a college dean, by the way, 'but the two that we have cost their mother so much that we shall never have any more.'
These women are all among my classmates, but the conditions are not peculiar to my class or to my college. I could cite as many instances among other college friends, but they are so nearly identical that they would seem merely a repetition. Two friends of mine now are fighting hard for the lives which have been threatened ever since their first babies came, in each case over a year ago. The example of greatest courage, perhaps, is not a college woman, though decidedly a schooled woman. Five times she went to the very gates of death for her great hope, but only once did she see the face of a living child of hers, and he died at six months.
In connection with a woman's ruling passion, I always think of that gracious lady preeminent as scholar and citizen, who recently left this world so much the poorer, especially for those who enjoyed the distinction of her friendship. I once heard a woman ask her whether she had any children. "Do you suppose," she replied, "that if I had any children, I should be running around the country talking?" And her tone said 'since all that my life seemed meant for, fails,' though all other honors were hers, save only motherhood.
Throughout my acquaintance, among not only my college friends but also my husband's college friends, I find, it has seemed to me, a large proportion of childless homes. And wherever a word has been dropped in my hearing as to the feeling of the wife in the matter, it has always been referred to as a great sorrow. I have been considering the question for some years and have tried to receive any light that appeared.
In many homes that I know there is an only child. It may seem that here are mothers who can have children but do not want them.