A loud cry from the bedroom brought Jacob back to the present. He bolted from the table, knocking over his chair, and rushed through the door just as Mrs. Wilson shouted, “Mr. Schmidt, you and Claire have a beautiful little baby girl, with strong movements and a loud cry. She has lots of black hair. When she gets color in her eyes, I hope they’re blue.” She said, laughing---laughing with her mouth wide open.
Almost in a stare, Jacob and Claire look at each other in a soft, quiet, and blank expression. They could hardly believe that their ten-year dream had now numbed their very souls---simply frozen in stillness---an epiphany.
“Stay there,” the midwife instructed Jacob, “and I will finish washing and dressing”---“Sarah Elizabeth Schmidt,” Claire and Jacob quickly interrupted. “That is a proper name for her,” nodded Mrs. Wilson, and Jane agreed.
They motioned for Jacob to take a chair, while they bathed Claire and replaced her gown and the bed linens, and brushed her hair.
Jacob slipped back into the kitchen, thinking he should thank God, but also thinking he would like to go out into the streets; run a few blocks in the cold wind, announcing the birth of their baby---“Sarah Elizabeth Schmidt.”
When Sarah was washed, Mrs. Wilson rubbed her entire little body with oil emitting a sweet fragrance; then wrapped her in a receiving blanket, adding a heavier blanket covering her entire body, almost her head and face. Jacob returned and grinned, when Sarah cried.
Sitting on the edge of Claire’s bed, together, they held her, laughing, almost giddy, with both saying, “This is the best time of our lives. We are ecstatic. How can we control ourselves? Now we are a family.”
Mrs. Wilson and Jane stepped into the kitchen, just as Jacob was saying, “Look, she is just the right size.” “She’s perfect.” Claire whispered, “Touch that little nose, her ears, her lips---all beautiful.” Pulling her blankets back, Jacob said, “I want to see her fingers and toes—all twenty of them.” Claire suggested, “Place your finger in her little fingers—all five of them.” He did, and to his surprise she clasped his finger with all five of hers. Jacob trembled, promising “You hold onto me, girl, and I will never let you go. You are a magnet attached to me, and I to you, forever.
You are my Sarah, and Claire’s Elizabeth. We are three-in-one. As I hold you and look into your soft little face, I see innocence and purity, and that humbles me. I know that later, you will shake your head ‘no’ to me, and later on when I instruct you, you will say, ‘why’.” He smiled to himself.
Just as Claire began rewrapping her in her blankets, Sarah started smacking her lips and thrusting her arms and legs in the air, causing her new parents to realize that she was hungry. They grinned in delight. Jacob moved aside as Claire adjusted her position and blankets, to feed Sarah for the first time.
Jacob returned to the kitchen as Mrs. Wilson checked to make sure that all was well, and that the baby was in a safe position. He said to Jane, “I’m hungry, aren’t you two?” Jane smiled, “while you were with Claire, your neighbors, Herb and Madeline, brought hot soup and bread for our lunch. They noticed all the activity around here, and realized what was happening. The soup is hot and the bread is fresh and warm. And we must feed Claire as soon as possible.”
Peeking into the bedroom Jacob whispered, “Both Claire and the baby are asleep. While we are eating, we will make plans for the next couple of days.” Mrs. Wilson replied that she had another appointment later that day, but Jane would be available to help. “I will, however, stop by for a few minutes and check everything for a day or two,” the midwife promised. She looked in again to see that the two were still sleeping.
Jacob paid Mrs. Wilson and thanked her for her wonderful service and for bringing profound blessings to his family. Turning to Jane, He inquired whether she could stay a few more hours and put the house back in order, and do the laundry. “I can prepare our meals, but I need you to come and do chores and bathe Sarah and help Claire.” “I will,” she replied.
When almost all of the neighbors in Weir heard about the little Schmidt baby, they wanted to participate in this joyful event. They had seen the two little graves marked Schmidt in the cemetery. One after another, the residents came bringing food, gifts and offers to do chores to help Claire and the baby; or bring in wood and coal or anything, so that Jacob could return to work Monday, and Claire would be assisted. Jacob was overwhelmed. He shook his head in disbelief. There were sandwiches, casseroles, cookies, breads, pies, cakes, ham, baked chicken, baby clothes and blankets. Wanting Claire to look at all of it, he and Jane carried each item in for her to see. She, too, could not believe such kindness was being showered upon them. Claire wept when she saw the handmade sweaters, caps and booties. “I want to get out of bed,” she pleaded. “Maybe tomorrow,” Jane promised.
As he and Jane put away all the foods, except what they would eat for supper, Jacob smiled saying, “I won’t need to make my lunch for work tomorrow; it’s here. We won’t have to cook for a whole week,” he grinned.
“Tomorrow we will help Claire get out of bed for a short walk into the kitchen maybe, and you can help her bathe, and also bathe Sarah. We will place her in the cradle as much as she will stay. At night time for a while, I will sleep in the other bedroom so Claire hopefully, can hold the baby close to her for better rest,” Jacob reasoned.