For the third season in-a-row, we are honored to have the faculty of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing back to guest blog for us each Monday morning about the previous night’s episode of Call the Midwife, airing on Sundays on NPT and PBS Stations nationwide at 7:00 p.m. Central, March 30-May 18. Check in here every Monday morning for the next eight weeks for historical and contemporary context on the show, and some fun discussion. Plus, this year we’ll have the occasional bonus blog from across the pond to get the British perspective. So be sure to check the blog TWICE on Mondays. SPOILER ALERT: Some posts may contain spoilers, so please be aware of that.
By Michelle Collins PhD, CNM
Like many of you, I eagerly curled up on the couch to watch this long anticipated first episode of season three. I confess, I have missed my Call the Midwife fix. I think that all midwives can identify with Chummy (Miranda Hart) in this episode. Her struggle to be content as a wife and mother, while attempting to squelch the aching call to be working as a midwife, was one that I know many a midwife has struggled with as well. Midwifery is a calling much more than it is a career or an occupation … I know many midwives will be nodding their heads in agreement when I say that if we weren’t paid to do what we do, we would probably offer to pay for the privilege of being able to be midwives (shhh… don’t let our employers hear that!)
To have the privilege of walking with women through such crucial times in their lives is just that – a privilege. Every time we receive a new life into our hands, or empower a woman with her own healthcare decisions, or even in the very saddest of times, when we have to tell a woman that the life inside her has been stilled – it is a privilege, and one we feel called to, at that. Thankfully women no longer have to choose between being wife and mother and answering the callings of our hearts.
Another aspect I loved from this episode was Sister Monica Joan’s (Judy Parfitt) part in the diagnosis of the child with cystic fibrosis. She is, admittedly, my favorite cast character (I suspect I am not alone in that). Two thoughts came to me from her part of the storyline. First was the fount of wisdom those like Sister Monica Joan are for the rest of us. The older I get, the more I value those mentors who I count on as my own “wise women;” those who have spent years accumulating wisdom – that is, the kind that is not able to be retrieved from books. Second, it reminded me of the importance of the “wisdom of the ages.” I am referring to the cystic fibrosis diagnostic information that Sister Monica Joan uncovered in one of her antique books, which all around her wanted to dismiss. How often in medicine, and in particular childbirth, do we find that there is a “latest and greatest” way to approach it? Some new guideline or method or tool to “improve” on what women have instinctively been doing for thousands of years (and doing a pretty fine job at I might add). Women see it as progress, for example, to choose the day that their child will be born (either by undergoing elective cesarean section or induction of labor). In reality, doing so negates every physiologic, biologic, and psychological instinct and process that women and their babies have relied on for centuries in order to birth successfully.
“Just as a women’s heart knows how and when to pump, her lungs to inhale, and her hand to pull back from fire, so she knows when and how to give birth.” – Virginia Di Orio
I think I know what Sister Monica Joan would have to say about that …
Michelle Collins PhD, CNM, is an Associate Professor of Nursing, Director Nurse-Midwifery Program, at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing
Read our Bonus British Perspective of this episode by Rachel Sykes here.
Missed our analysis of the Previous Season’s Episodes? Read them here.