“Madam, this pregnancy is looking good. Luckily the fetus is towards the back, otherwise the stomach will be even larger.”
Matron Xu’s skill at feeling the fetus was quite good. Every few days she would feel if it was in the correct position.
After coming to the Jing Prince Estate for a few days, she had pretty much figured out the situation. She knew that although Madam Hua’s status wasn’t high, she was the most important person within the estate. Most commoners would think that the consort and his highness was the married couple, but this Madam Hua and the Jing Prince was actually more like the married couple.
Matron Xu often mingled with rich households, and naturally understood what was good for her. Therefore, whenever she had the chance to appear in front of Xiao Hua these days, she would do her best to curry favor. Matron Xu felt that the limits on how often she could see the madam was imposed by that old women surnamed He. She must be jealous, trying to push her aside after seeing her skills.
She didn’t realize that “outsiders” had always been strictly regulated within the Jing Prince estate. There was no need for Eunuch Fu to specially give the orders for the subordinates to act this way. However, Eunuch Fu had still given the orders anyway. After all, it was better to be cautious since this was an important affair.
Xiao Hua could naturally see that Matron Xu was trying to curry favor. This old woman was born with a round face. She was tall and was always smiling as she spoke. Her words were straightforward and clear, and she was dressed very neatly. Overall, she was quite likeable.
“Matron Xu is really skilled. You’re able to tell after feeling a couple of times.” Xiao Hua had Ding Xiang help her get dressed while she spoke to Matron Xu.
“Thank you for madam’s compliment. This woman relies on this to put food on the table. If I didn’t have this skill I can’t support myself.”
Ding Xiang saw Matron Xu’s barely concealed pride and spoke with a slight smile: “Then we’ll be relying on Matron Xu during our madam’s birth. If things go well, our highness will naturally bestow rewards.”
“That’s a given.”
Ding Lan escorted Matron Xu out. Ding Xiang supported Xiao Hua to sit on the kiln and said: “This Matron Xu is an interesting one. She feels that not being able to appear in front of madam often is due to Nana He making things difficult for her.”
“But she’s also a refreshing person, and doesn’t make others hate her. It’s inevitable she has some little thoughts. Have Ding Lan find someone to give her a hint, don’t let her continue thinking this way. Our Nana He doesn’t need to make things difficult for her in front of me.” Saying this, Xiao Hua couldn’t help but laugh.
Xiao Xia Zi came in and reported that his highness had returned.
Xiao Hua was overjoyed at the unexpected news. She urged Ding Xiang to help her tidy up her hair and put on her shoes.
Before she got off the kiln, the Jing Prince had already come in.
The ten days she hadn’t seen him seemed like a lifetime. Especially since she had gotten used to sharing a bed with him. She already had trouble sleeping, and with him gone it had gotten worse. Xiao Hua had really missed him a lot these past few days.
Seeing him return, seeing that familiar apathetic face and gaze, Xiao Hua’s eyes couldn’t help but turn red.
After the Jing Prince spoke, he went to take a bath and change. When he reappeared, he was wearing a cyan indoor outfit, his waist-length long hair was draped behind him and still dripping with water. His ink black brows seemed painted on, and his gaze was extremely calm.
Xiao Hua seemed to be in a daze from staring. Only after the Jing Prince sat across from her did she snap out of it. She grabbed a hand towel and wanted to dry his hair for him, but the Jing Prince didn’t let her. He had Xiao Xia Zi do it instead.
“I thought you still needed a couple more days before you would be back.”
“Things were completed so this humble prince came back.”
“Is highness hungry? Want to eat something?”
The Jing Prince shook his head. He usually didn’t eat outside of mealtimes.
The servants all left and only the two of them remained. Xiao Hua wanted to cuddle over to the Jing Prince’s side, but her stomach was now too big and she wasn’t as nimble as before, making it quite difficult for her. Luckily the Jing Prince was more observant than before, and he lifted her over.
Her face was red and she pulled at his hand in embarrassment, “I’m deathly clumsy at the moment.”
He stroked her face, “It’ll be fine after.”
Was he comforting her?
“And I don’t look good.”
“This humble prince feels you look good.”
At these words, the small worry in Xiao Hua’s heart completely faded.
How could he not mind it? She transformed from a young girl into a large woman. Her cute little face was no more, her slender body was also gone. Although she had acted normal this whole time, she was actually a little worried in her heart. But these worries were dispelled by the Jing Prince’s actions.
These days while he was gone, she would occasionally look at herself in the mirror. She didn’t dare believe the person in the mirror was her. Her whole shape had changed.
Nana He had comforted her by saying that everyone looked this way when they were several months pregnant. She could only tell herself that she would be back to normal in the future.
But how could other people’s words compare to his. As long as he didn’t mind it, then everything was fine.
Xiao Hua mumbled: “Highness is really good.”
After dinner, the Jing Prince accompanied Xiao Hua as she exercised before the two of them went to bed.
After they lay down, the two of them chatted randomly. It was mostly Xiao Hua speaking and the Jing Prince listening. What she spoke about were merely little things that happened during her everyday life. Although the Jing Prince didn’t reply, he would let out an “en” every now and then to show that he was listening.
It was quite impressive of the Jing Prince to be able to last this long. He had ridden overnight in his hurry to get back, and had long since been tired.
Xiao Hua spoke another few words before seeing that the breathing of the person next to her had become steady. Having slept in the same bed for so long, she was already able to tell when he was fast asleep. Therefore, she stopped talking and closed her own eyes.
In the middle of the night, Xiao Hua awoke.
She was awoken by her hunger.
Recently she got hungry especially quickly, and would want to eat all the time. Unfortunately, her diet had been restricted by Nana He and Matron Xu. Not only was the time restricted, even the menu was restricted. Although Matron Xu liked to compete with Nana He, they were in complete agreement on this matter.
Ding Xiang and the others hadn’t given birth before, and thus naturally deferred to those with “experience”. Therefore, Xiao Hua could only suffer. Early on, Ding Xiang would still occasionally slip her a pastry. Now, even this benefit was gone.
She grew hungrier the more she thought about it, and thought more about it the hungrier she grew. As her thoughts ran wild, Xiao Hua’s tears started flowing.
As the birth approached, the pressure on her was very big. She wasn’t a fool, and was naturally able to tell Nana He and the others were worried.
She just didn’t want to let them know she realized, and pretended not to understand. She ate when she could, drank when she could and exercised when she had to.
She didn’t slack off, didn’t cut corners….but sometimes she felt it was very difficult….
She was suddenly embraced, “What’s wrong?”
Ever since Xiao Hua had gotten pregnant, a lamp would be left on inside the room. The Jing Prince was woken up by the faint sound of weeping, and saw the person by his side crying by herself.
The Jing Prince heard this and released his hand to lift the curtains, but was pulled back.
“I can’t eat.”
As these words came out, her heart soured and more tears flowed out. The Jing Prince didn’t insist on calling for people, turning around and silently embracing her.
They both understood why she couldn’t eat.
The Jing Prince understood as well.
Because he had clarified the situation early on, he understood her suffering. He knew about everything. Watching her pitiful appearance, the Jing Prince felt his heart ache as though someone was ruthlessly crushing it.
“There, there. It’ll be over soon.”
After struggling for another while, Xiao Hua no longer felt as unbearably hungry.
“Highness, hurry and sleep. It’s all my fault.”
Although she said this, after Xiao Hua had fallen asleep, the Jing Prince remained awake. The next day, when Nana He’s appointed time arrived, breakfast was already placed in front of Xiao Hua who had just gotten up.
Maybe “mommy brain” was a thing. Seeing the piping hot, seemingly delicious breakfast, Xiao Hua’s face instantly lit up.
“Ding Xiang, you’ve truly, deeply grasped my heart.”
Ding Xiang laughed on the side: “Madam, this wasn’t arranged by this servant. His highness had arranged it bright and early.”
Xiao Hua’s astonished gaze landed on the Jing Prince’s unperturbed face. His face seemed to have a rare hint of red on it.
She half lowered her head and pretended to busy herself with eating but her eyes were tearing up.
Once Xiao Hua’s pregnancy entered the ninth month, everything had been arranged ahead of time.
Apart from Matron Xu, Eunuch Fu had found two more midwives for the delivery. A wet nurse had also been found. All that was left was for the babies to be born and brought into the estate. The delivery room was also being set up.
The western pavilion’s eastern wing had been converted to a delivery room. Everything was of the highest quality.
After it was all set up, Matron Xu mentioned some other things that were required. Eunuch Fu asked in detail, and after some discussion they switched the bed in the delivery room.
The Grand Xi Dynasty mostly used framed beds or palanquin beds. This new bed was much lower, and was surrounded by what looked like a stage. It wasn’t like a palanquin bed which was enclosed and had a door. The area around the bed was wide open. The bed was surrounded by a set of thick curtains, and several uneven beams were suspended above it.
When Nana He saw this, her expression was filled with doubt.
“What is this?”
She touched the wooden poles suspended above the bed and the various cotton ropes tied to them. The height was uneven. Some could be grabbed when standing up. Others were much lower.
Matron Xu smiled meaningfully, “Madam needs these things for her birth.”
“These things are used in giving birth?”
“What, haven’t seen it before? At that time you can broaden your experience.”
Nana He couldn’t help but laugh and say: “Sure.”
Matron Xu looked at her in surprise. This old lady was always very opinionated. All her suggestions had been refused one by one. She was clearly supposed to be in charge of the delivery, but had to listen to this old lady from the kitchen. Unexpectedly, things went very smoothly this time.
However, Matron Xu also understood Nana He’s background. A nana who had come from the palace, and had served the Jing Prince since he was young. She was quite respected within the estate, so she wouldn’t normally be at odds with her.
While she did sometimes feel indignant, Matron Xu still knew who couldn’t be offended.
How could Nana He not understand this old lady Xu’s thoughts? She said: “As long as it’s beneficial for madam’s birth, I would never oppose it. In the past I only opposed your ideas that were not suitable for a prince’s estate. I believe in your abilities. Therefore, we will be relying on you when the time comes.”
Hearing this, Matron Xu immediately smiled, “That’s a given.”
Seeing that Nana He recognized that she was skilled, the little bit of conflict towards her was put to the back of her mind. The two of them examined the room’s various things as they discussed what else would be needed.
Nana He secretly thought that this old woman’s heart was too shallow. She had been convinced with the smallest compliment. But the only thing Nana He cared about was that madam gave birth smoothly. They had done all they could, and madam had done all she should. They could only hope for the best.
As the date approached, the entire western pavilion was nervous. Even the Jing Prince rarely busied himself with official affairs these days. He spent most of his time accompanying Xiao Hua in the western pavilion.
“Highness, you really don’t have to worry about me. I have Nana He and the rest here to accompany me.”
“It’s fine. There’s no work recently.”
The Jing Prince nodded his head. There truly wasn’t any work, because he had delegated everything to his subordinates. The estate’s affairs had been handed to Eunuch Chang and Mister Huang. The external affairs were allocated to the various departments.
Actually, they weren’t the only ones who were worried. He was actually pretty worried as well. Especially since twins were not easy to deliver….
He stroked her hair with one hand as he clenched his other hand tightly into a fist.