The uterine ailments yielded to treatment, the haemorrhage was overcome, digestion improved, but the nervous exhaustion and paralytic symptoms im proved but slowly, and probably can never be over come. There is a pitiable wrong not unfrequently done to children, of which the parents seem wholly unconscious, and certainly no mother who realized the harm she might do would be willing to venture upon so dangerous an experiment. I refer to those so-called innocent measures to establish menstruation during the first two or three months of pregnancy.
Often the mother, under the half impression that the retention may, after all, be due to a cold, or some incidental cause, resorts to hot drinks, hot foot-baths, adding long walks, jumping, running, heavy lifting, hard horseback riding, and other severe exercises, to bring about the desired result. As is well known, these measures are usually quite unsuccessful in pro ducing abortion; but sad results, that make trouble for years, are certain to follow such experiments. I have shuddered when good wives and mothers have said to me, more than half in jest, " I have tried the best I could, without doing anything wrong, to bring on the menstrual sickness, but have been quite unsuccessful, as you see." In the earlier stages of embryonic life the structures are delicate and easily mutilated. Every possible provision has been made to shield the child from changes of temperature, jars, or any form of external injury not voluntarily in flicted. Did you ever see a valuable young plant or tree half torn up by the roots, and then left to develop as best it might? Just this harm may be and is done to many a helpless innocent child in many a Christian home. How often I have seen such children loved, tenderly cherished, and mourned over through years of hopeless invalidism, by kind parents who did not seem to dream that they were at fault as to the cause of the suffering they tried so hard to assuage.
It is easy by a few hours or weeks of wrong-doing to bring years of sorrow into our own lives and the lives of those very dear to us. I could give you from my own records many instances illustrating the unintentional wrong done in this way, aside from the instances where the murderous spirit knowingly, recklessly, risked personal safety and life to destroy the child, and failed. The following instances will suffice for illustration. At a distance from home, I was called into the house of a thriving farmer to see a sick child nearly two years of age. The little boy had never walked or crept, had been feeble and ill from birth, was emaciated, and had an old, wrinkled look that was very touching. He had never taken nourishment well, always cried much when awake, his sleep had been fitful and uncertain, and he had ever been in the mother's arms or in the cradle. The little sufferer seemed to be the object of the tender est care, both parents saying they would be willing to do almost anything, or incur any expense possible if the baby could be made well, and were greatly disappointed when I told them that passing relief only could be given during the few weeks of life that remained. The father and mother were vigorous and unusually well developed, both having been in early life strong and well, until within a few years the mother's health had failed somewhat with the care of her last two children. Two years before she had lost a babe at sixteen months, who had been ill in a manner quite similar to this one. The two oldest children, a lad of ten and girl of eight years, looked the picture of health, both parents saying they had never been ill, and rarely kept them awake at night, but that both the younger children had been alike feeble from birth, requiring more care during the night in a month than they had given the oldest ones during their whole lives.
After the father and children left the room, the mother said, "The last five years have been so bur dened with the care of my children in their sickness, in addition to my household duties, that I have felt that I must not become a mother again. I know my constitution will break down under it. What can I do?" "You were well after the birth of the first two children, were you not?" I queried. "Very well; but I have not been as well since the last two were born." "Were the first children a great care?" I asked again. "A good deal, I thought at the time; but they were not a tithe compared to one of these last. I cannot go through it all again." "You need not," I said cheerfully. "Have you any idea why the last children are more feeble than the eldest?" "I have not the least idea," she said earnestly; "but I wish I might never need to have any others. Two children make a nice family, and I never wanted any more." Without replying, I told her of two in stances which I knew bore close resemblance to her own, where the mothers' failing to destroy their chil dren before birth so nearly accomplished their ob ject that a feeble and suffering life followed for the children, one to five, and one to twenty years. She leaned her head forward upon her hand, and I saw the tears falling. With the best and most truthful instruction I could give, I urged her never again to fear accepting in conscientious faithfulness the nat ural order of maternity; for as a wife it was the only healthful life to be at intervals a mother. A poor neighbor, whose husband was in the late war, became pregnant during the few days of furlough given him while recovering from a wound. The babe was born duly, but was very feeble, was never able to sit up or hold up its head, and required constant care night and day during the year or two that it lived. The mother had been usually well and strong, as were her other children. She told me fully, upon questioning her, that she hail tried all she could to bring on the menses, but failed, —she thought it so hard to have a child while her husband was gone, and a friend told her there was no harm before there was life. There are many varieties and degrees of injury to mother and child in the ineffectual attempts to induce abortion. Medicines taken with the inten tion of producing spasmodic contraction of the uterus, and thus compelling the expulsion of its contents, sometimes expend their force upon the brain and spinal cord of the mother, producing se vere and sometimes fatal spasms. All this frightful disturbance fails often in producing abortion, but never fails to do serious harm to the child, resulting in some form of nervous affection that is permanent. These injuries are not always marked, do not produce a fatal result at so early an age as in the instances narrated, but may show themselves in limited strength of body and weakened intellect during a long life.
All the order of God in nature is as clearly de clared by sure natural penalties against this crime, as is the law against murder, written by his finger on tables of stone at Mount Sinai. I believe no human being, realizing the harm that may come from even the so-called "innocent measures," the domestic remedies and advertised nostrums for irregularities, would dare impiously to risk such wrong to the most abject fellow-creature. much less to their own offspring.