**Spoilers for Season 3 of Call the Midwife, given for context
After Patrick died, we really put ourselves in a protective bubble with our TV and movie distractions. The DVR filled, because we didn’t know what new episodes would set us off. We watched a lot of re-runs–Castle, Bones, Veronica Mars, Buffy–and movies in our library. In June we started catching up on the shows we had set aside, and by the end of September we were all caught up, ready for the new seasons, except for one show: Call the Midwife. I watch Call the Midwife on my own, having binge-watched the first two season while I was sick a while back. Season three started airing the week before Patrick died, and so it sat.
I tried to watch an episode in July, but I stopped it three minutes in. The seasons are only eight episodes, and I slowly started watching them in October. I had to take another little break after Jenny’s love died in a freak accident. One of the last lines of that episode, though, really stuck with me. Jenny had been working with a woman who’s mom lived with her. Mrs. Rubin had been in a concentration camp, which had led to her becoming agoraphobic. Jenny and her daughter worked with her, and eventually she was able to leave the house. Mrs. Rubin, her daughter, and the new baby came to see Jenny before they moved. Mrs. Rubin gave her condolences on Jenny’s loss then said to her, “You will feel better than this. Maybe not now, but you will. You just keep living, until you are alive again.” The wisdom in that statement reiterated my love of the show. Sometimes it feels a little too real, but the authenticity can also offer comfort and validation.
Last week I watched the last three episodes of the season. I’d been crying on and off for a couple of weeks without any relief. They were tears of frustration, not healing. I’d pull myself together and not feel any better from the release of tears, which just further frustrated me. I sat down Thursday afternoon and decided to watch the last two episodes of season three. Episode seven struck a cord with me–actually, several cords. The two main story lines hit very close to home. Jenny returns from her break after Alec died and is sent to The London hospital maternity ward to work. There her patient is admitted for closer observation because her first pregnancy resulted in a full-term stillbirth. Her anxiety was palpable, and Jenny was really trying to keep her as calm and reassured as possible. But the hospital has all of these rules about care that Jenny is not accustomed to. She clearly felt that the rules were not in the best interest of her patient.
Jenny recognizes fetal distress and helps the mother move to a position to help relieve the baby’s distress and transfer her to delivery. The mother begged for Jenny to accompany her, but the head nurse wouldn’t allow it. Later we see Jenny break the rules and go visit the mother. She wakes from surgery, sure that she has lost her baby again. Jenny reassures her and tells her that she had a healthy baby boy. The mother won’t believe it without seeing him. Jenny says that’s against the rules. But, she knows what the mother really needs, and she goes and gets the baby boy. At the end of the episode, Jenny gives notice to the head nurse, saying that she needs to follow her patients from beginning to end.
The other storyline follows a mother giving birth to her first child, so excited. But after birth she has a psychotic break and has to be talked off of the edge of a pier with the baby. She’s hospitalized in a psychiatric ward. The stigma of her illness and the psychiatric ward reaches even her husband. Sister Julien really worked with the father to open his heart to his wife and her illness, as well as visiting the mother and helping her while she’s hospitalized. The mother finally starts coming back around after a course of ECT, and their storyline ends with their little family walking together in the streets of East London, people staring at them, and them not caring.
One episode of Call the Midwife hit my greatest pregnancy after loss fears, and I sobbed–shaking, finally healing, sobs. The issues were approached with such kindness and care. I really applaud the producers for addressing such heavy issues with authenticity and grace.
After recovering from the sobbing episode, I decided to go ahead and watch the final episode of the season. It was good, but most of it didn’t have the direct impact of the previous episode. The last line of the voiceover, though, completely captured what I’m trying to do in life right now: “For what is joy if it goes unrecorded, and what is love if it is not shared?” I’m working to record the joy and the sorrow, and share love–with my family, but also with others traveling this same horrific journey. I will continue this current path, living life, until I am alive again.
*Both photographs from this post were taken on our honeymoon in 2012.