Parallels

Call the Midwife Episode 3, season 2There are so many wonderful story lines in “Call the Midwife.”  I enjoy watching the friendships that have developed between the midwives. I like how the show’s creators give us a glimpse into the lives and emotions of the nuns but still keeps them somewhat apart from the others. Watching the interactions between the midwives and the doctors, with all its give and take, is so similar to my experiences.  Henry Ford Hospital in 2013 is across the ocean and 50 years into the future from the setting of “Call the Midwife” but it feels like the writers of the show understand both places intimately.  The parallels between their world and mine amaze me.

Maybe it’s because I just finished a three night stretch on the Labor and Delivery unit but the story line about the Carter sisters, Meg and Mave, drew me in tonight. It keeps coming back to trust. The sisters do not trust the 1958 modern ways of the midwives and medicine but Mave is worried about her delivery.  I have many patients in my practice from other cultures, Bangladesh, Yemen, Mexico, and northern Africa.  Detroit is a melting pot very much like East end London in the 1950s. Each culture has unique traditions about pregnancy and birth and women’s roles in the family.  I have learned a lot and have come to appreciate and respect much of it. But sometimes there is resistance to new ways. Sometimes they view the tests and checkups as a lot of fuss over a natural process.  “That is not how we do it back home,” is a phrase I am very familiar with. But like Trixie and Dr. Turner sometimes you have to speak out and say medicine and childbirth have evolved.  I am happy to have ultrasound to see twins.  I am glad for the medicines that ease pain and help with the problems that can crop up.  We have skills and knowledge that can help make women and babies safer and healthier. Patients don’t always listen but many times with patience and respect and some plain talk good things happen.

Sister Bernadette, Trixie and Dr. Turner handle a major crisis of undiagnosed twin delivery with a placental abruption in an older first time mother at home, no less. The same case would cause more than a few gray hairs to pop out for me in my modern Labor & delivery unit with all its equipment and help.  Plain talk, asking for and receiving trust of the patient and family, skill and probably a good dose of luck prevailed for the Carter sisters. It happens that way for me too at my job.

That is what is so special about Call the Midwife. It captures the joy and adrenalin and camaraderie that I experience as a midwife so very well.

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2 thoughts on “Parallels

  1. I enjoy all the “Call the Midwife” episodes. Part of it is the actresses and the fashions of the time. I was a little girl and I remember the music and the hairstyles and clothes. The other thing is that it shows the way women can be compassionate and caring during childbirth. I had four children, all naturally. The first time I was considered a “geriatric pregnancy” and the ob/gyn wanted to do a lot of tests, i.e., chorionic villi testing and amniocentesis. I said, “No, it had taken me years to get pregnant and I did not want any interference with the natural process. I had a healthy boy after a 13 hour labor, the labor nurse was there with us through all the rough spots and the doctor
    just kind of came in at the end while I was pushing.
    The subsequent three babies I had with midwives, at home. They were all certified nurse midwives and things went off without a problem.
    I wish more American women would see pregnancy like your refugee population mothers do. It is a natural process and it is good to have modern medicine when there are complications, but for the most part we have developed this idea that birth is to be feared. I would like women to see it as a miracle and trust their bodies to do things without relying on unnecessary drugs and C-sections. .

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