‘Of course.’ He got up and picked Trent stroke McKinnon up gingerly. In the moment before he placed the bundle in Maggie’s arms, he looked down at the child in a way that made Maggie catch her breath—with sheer pride and tenderness.
It shot through her mind that even if she never achieved a breakthrough to the real Jack McKinnon, this child would.
Then she accepted the bundle and her own attachment began. Her breasts tightened and she put a finger into her son’s open palm and his tiny hand closed around it.
‘Well, well, honey-child,’ she breathed, ‘we get to meet at last. How do you do? Oh, look,’ she said to Jack, ‘I think he’s got your nose!’
Jack grimaced and felt his nose. ‘If there’s anyone he looks like,’ he said ruefully, ‘it’s a Trent.’
They laughed together—and that was how her parents found them.
But when the injections wore off a couple of hours later, Maggie was once again in great pain, although at least the cause of it had been diagnosed. She’d broken a transverse process, a small bone running off the spine, in her lower back.
It would heal, she was told, of its own accord, but many movements would be painful for her until it did so. All they could do was manage the pain for her until it became bearable, in about a week they estimated, but even then it would probably be quite a few weeks before she regained full mobility.
Unfortunately, they told her, all this would interfere with her ability to breast-feed her baby.
‘No, it won’t,’ she said.
‘Maggie,’ her mother began.
‘Mum, there has to be a way. Dad—’ she turned her head to her father ‘—why don’t you take Jack out for a drink while we work this out? He looks as if he could do with it.’
‘Maggie,’ David Trent warned, ‘darling, it’s not the end of the world if you can’t breast-feed and it’s just as important for the baby for you to recover well and quickly.’
‘I will,’ she promised, ‘but I will also do this, somehow.’
It occurred to her a moment later that she never, ever thought she’d see what she saw then—her father and Jack exchange identical helpless glances.
Belle also saw it and she exchanged a laughing glance with Maggie before she shooed both men out. Then she sobered and turned back to her daughter. ‘How?’
‘I’ve read a lot about it and there’s great support for breast-feeding mums. What we need is an expert, but I don’t see why my milk can’t be expressed for the next few days so I don’t lose it, until I come off the painkillers—and I intend to do that as soon as possible.’
‘But what about the baby?’
‘We need to find someone with loads of milk who wouldn’t mind suckling him so he gets the hang of it, and they will have to feed him a supplement. Mum, please help me here,’ Maggie said urgently, then looked exhausted. ‘I want to do this!’
Belle eyed her daughter, then sighed. ‘All right. All right.’
It was a traumatic and painful week for Maggie. Expressing breast milk might sound fine in theory, but in practice it could be excruciating. Transverse processes might be little bones, but they hurt like the devil when you broke them.
On the plus side, however, Bev Janson, who’d had her third baby the same day as Maggie’s, had more milk than she knew what to do with and was grateful for the relief she gained from feeding another baby. Not only that, she and Maggie became firm friends.
And Trent stroke McKinnon throve through it all.
Then came the day when Maggie could sit up properly and she was given the go-ahead to feed her baby herself.
Her sense of triumph was huge. So was her joy.
‘See?’ she said to Jack. ‘I knew there had to be a way.’
‘Maggie…’ He stopped, then shook his head at her. ‘You’re a bloody marvel. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such guts.’
‘The doctor said I could probably go home in three or four days.’
He hesitated. ‘Have you had any thoughts about that?’
‘No!’ She grimaced. ‘Too much on my mind.’