In addition to the faculty of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing guest blogging 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 — we are thrilled to have a bonus blogger. Rachel Sykes, who did a practicum at the Vanderbilt School of Nursing in the summer 0f 2013, is a registered midwife and graduate from the University of Manchester, United Kingdom. She’s watched the show on the BBC and will provide a unique UK-perspective. She currently practices in a busy maternity unit in the Northwest of England.
SPOILER ALERT: Some posts may contain spoilers, so please be aware of that.
By Rachel Sykes
Cup of Rosy Lee anyone? Rosy Lee is cockney rhyming slang for tea, in case you were wondering what Chummy (Miranda Hart) is serving up to the Harper family, in their moment of crisis. Brits are well known for their long standing love affair with this unique, hot, beige liquid (me in particular) and use it as a remedy for all sorts of situations. You’ve had a minor car crash and are in shock, have a cup of tea! You’ve had a gruelling day at work and want to drop dead, have a cup of tea! You’re devastated after finishing with the love of your life, have a cup of tea! The world is going to end, have a cup of tea! Well, maybe not the last one, but you get my drift. London natives, otherwise known as Cockneys, use Cockney rhyming slang in everyday conversation. The ‘Apples and pears’ (stairs), ‘Currant bun’ (sun), ‘Dog and bone’ (phone), ‘Trouble and strife’ (wife, this one Cockney men just love to say) are just a few examples of this dialect. Some Northerners have caught onto it too, my friend Kerrie often refers to me as her ‘china plate’ (mate).
This week, the focus is on vulnerability. Sally Harper (Sarah Gordy), the lady with Down’s Syndrome presents with abdominal pain and later finds out she is expecting a child. I imagine there aren’t many midwives who have seen this before, or would ever experience it. Anyone with special needs or learning difficulties would fall under the umbrella term of vulnerable adult. Midwives have an immense responsibility to safeguard the well-being of vulnerable pregnant women. Other examples of vulnerable women would be those with mental health issues, victims of domestic abuse and women who misuse substances. In many hospitals around the UK, there is usually a specialist midwife appointed to assist in the care of these women. These midwives receive specialist training in safeguarding adults and they liaise with other agencies such as social services in order to devise a plan of care, tailored to the woman’s needs. Given Sally’s situation, the residential home failed to safeguard her well-being. Though, from a human perspective, Sally and Jacob’s (Colin Young) relationship could be considered to be an innocent boyfriend- girlfriend relationship. Who are we to argue? Everyone deserves love regardless of circumstances. As Sally says ‘I am normal as the day ends.’
During their first midwife appointment, all pregnant women are offered screening for Down’s Syndrome. The initial screening calculates the risk of having a Down’s Syndrome baby and if the risk is above a certain threshold, a further diagnostic test is offered, which is usually an amniocentesis.
Chummy and her husband Peter, struggle to strike a balance between family life and work life. Chummy, in her defence explains ‘babies aren’t exactly a part- time business.’ This we all know is true, babies don’t have a Filofax and rarely arrive on their due date. In my experience, women often deliver at night time. I do think this is a really good example of how we as humans reflect our core, primal instinct with regards to birthing our young. Animals often deliver their babies during the ‘wee small hours,’ a time when it is usually quiet and dark, an ideal environment for nature’s physiology to take its course, labouring women included. Throughout my childhood, I owned and cared for various animals including guinea pigs (Peruvian Cavies) and ponies, all of which birthed their babies during the night. I would often get up in the morning to find new additions to my family, much to my parent’s dismay. I am pretty sure their hearts sank that little bit more after each addition!
Rachel Sykes is a registered midwife and graduate from the University of Manchester, United Kingdom.
Missed our analysis of the Previous Season’s Episodes? Read them here.