Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Anne Hutchinson's monstrous birth

© 2013 Christy K Robinson

Anne Hutchinson statue
in Boston
 In books, transatlantic letters, and journals, Mary Dyer’s 1637 “monstrous birth” story was kept alive for decades, not just because it was an unusual deformation and the people of Boston had nothing else horribly fascinating to gossip about. The premature stillbirth of an anencephalic fetus with spina bifida was the first recorded in the American colonies. See Mary Dyer’s “monster.”

But the monsters of Mary Dyer and her mentor and friend, Anne Hutchinson, were spoken of as a pair. Mary’s travail took place in October 1637 in Boston, and Anne’s probably in June 1638 in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

Deformed babies, dead or alive, were called monsters for several centuries, and seen as evidence of the mother’s heresy, sexual immorality, or that she had left her proper place in subjection to her husband and ministers, and the monstrous birth was punishment from God.

Anne, an experienced midwife, began feeling weak, and consulted the young doctor in their company because she feared for either her or her baby’s life.

A hydatidiform mole is an abnormal growth of placental tissue, or it could be from a non-viable fertilized egg. It develops as a cluster of water-filled sacs, and it’s not a baby. If the moles invade the uterine wall, they can lead to deadly thromboses and even cancer. It seems from the description of Anne’s case, that she was very lucky or very blessed not to have suffered the latter.

THE REST OF THE ILLUSTRATIONS AND BLOG ARTICLE HAVE BEEN REMOVED BY THE AUTHOR. YOU CAN FIND THE ENTIRE ARTICLE IN THE BOOK BELOW, THE DYERS OF LONDON, BOSTON, & NEWPORT. 


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More articles in this blog featuring Anne Hutchinson:



Where is God when we suffer? by Christy K Robinson
The Passover exodus from Massachusetts by Christy K Robinson

Like this article?  More great anecdotes about mid-17th century England and New England, supported by research, can be found in the nonfiction paperback and ebook The DYERS of London, Boston, & Newport, by Christy K Robinson. It's the third in a series about Mary Dyer, Anne Hutchinson, Sir Henry Vane, Roger Williams, and John Winthrop. The Dyers is a lively nonfiction account of background color, culture, short stories, personality sketches, food, medicine, interests, recreation, cosmic events, and all the "stuff" that made up the world of William and Mary Dyer in the 1600s. More than 70 chapters, and all-new, exclusive content found nowhere else!

5 comments:

  1. This is another am gazing example of you ability to take historical fact, and lend to it a sense of "being in the moment". You encompass the emotional impact of what it was like to be a strong willed, intelligent woman living in a time of repression and male domination. I always take a deep breathe and take a moment to feel grateful for Anne, Mary, all the women who have stood and suffered for civil rights, when I am done reading your blogs. You are bordering on Maya Angelou level thoughtfulness here!

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    1. Ah, thank you, Robin. Your kind message (with the amazing compliment!) arrived just as I was struggling with a professional matter: one of my clients jumped ship without paying for my services rendered. You're the first to compare me to Ms. Angelou!

      The novel on Mary and William Dyer (containing lots of appearances by Anne Hutchinson) will be published in a few weeks, so hang in there a little longer!

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  2. Amen, Robin! I'd love to say that we've gotten past the days when such a private event as a miscarriage could become the subject of sermons. Unfortunately, we haven't. However, Christy has done an amazing job of putting a 'monstrous' birth in proper light. Huzzah!

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  3. Fascinating post, Christy. Just glad I didn't read it over lunch!

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    1. Actually, looking at the blog stats, it seems that the hits spike when people are at their work computers, not when they're home or on their mobile devices.

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