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    "Call the Midwife," Season 2, Episode 6

    By Megan O’Connor, Student Midwife


    One of the first tasks put to most midwifery students is to define the term “midwife.”  My classmates and I considered the word both as a noun and as a verb.  This led to other explorations of midwifery as a philosophy, as a discipline, and as a practice.  Most of us found that the answers were more complex than anticipated.  Sometimes we got a little lost in what felt like a morass of subtle distinctions and semantics.  We found some clarity in the truism that the root meaning of the word is “with woman.”   Few would contest the idea that presence is at the core what it means to midwife.


    The most recent episode of Call The Midwife reminded me of all this.  Jenny Lee obviously serves as midwife to Julia Masterson.  But just as Julia is giving birth, we also see Sister Julienne “midwifing” Mr. Masterson into grandfatherhood and through death.  Sister Bernadette does a neat bit of midwifery when she gentles a young girl out of her fear of the X-ray machine by promising to accompany her all the way through.  For me, the most touching example of midwifery in this episode was the kind care given by Fred to Sister Monica Joan.  He was respectful and willing to do whatever it took to make her feel safe – even if it meant climbing through a second floor window – with seemingly effortless patience.  He simply met her where she was, literally and figuratively.


    Perhaps this episode has captured the reason why midwifery feels so universal.  It's because in our best moments, we are midwives in spirit, no matter what our employment.



    By Nancy Kraus, LM


    The themes this week were facing our fears and unrequited love; poor Sister Bernadette had to deal with both of these issues simultaneously in this episode.


    We’ve watched the chemistry between Sister Bernadette and the doctor develop over the season and seen her struggle with this attraction to a man which is forbidden as a religious member of a convent. I keep rooting for her to abandon her vocation, leave the convent, and marry the poor widowed doctor. But we see her resolve to overcome her worldly affection and remain a nun. At the same time, she faces the unexpected diagnosis of tuberculosis which in the crowded slums of the East End of London in the early 20th century had often been a death sentence. Sister Bernadette at least can benefit from modern medicine and rest in a sanitarium. Her lungs may heal, but can that respite heal her breaking heart?


    Frank faces his fear of heights, and with Frank’s help, Sister Monica Jane faces her fear of gamma radiation.


    This episode also deals with the topic of unwed motherhood, a social stigma at the time, and again with the loss caused by the scourge of tuberculosis. Only one daughter in a family of six children survives the disease along with her father; their inability to express their emotions to each other after they lose their loved ones leads to estrangement as adults. On his deathbed, her shameful pregnancy and his congestive heart failure force them to acknowledge their love for each other, and they reconcile. Midwife and nurse Jennie is a catalyst in their healing.


    Fear and love, universal human emotions.


    Writers wanted! To post your reactions to the next episode of Call The Midwife, write us at or post on our Facebook.

    Posted By Lillian Dalke | 5/11/2013 8:15:48 AM