Call the Midwife is back for a sixth season and so are the faculty of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing with a weekly guest blog. Watch the show Sundays at 7 p.m. through May 21, then read our blog each Monday morning for historical and contemporary context about the previous night’s episode. SPOILER ALERT: Some posts may contain spoilers.
By Bethany Domzal Sanders
Vanderbilt University School of Nursing
I recently attended the birth of baby who, during the course of a routine ultrasound, was diagnosed as having either an absent or severely abnormal brain structure. The parents lived with this uncertainty for nearly five months, meeting with specialists and having additional tests performed. Ultimately, no one could predict the outcome for this baby, as this particular condition manifests in a range from very mild to severe delays in developmental milestones. As the mother held her baby for the first time, her face shone radiantly with love and the one thing about which there was no doubt was how very much loved this baby was.
As I watched Sunday’s Call the Midwife episode, “uncertainty” was the word that kept coming to mind. Derek and Penny Reed facing a number of unknowns about the birth of their long-awaited baby. Jessie and George Marsh not knowing what would happen when the bandages were removed from George’s eyes. And midwives Patsy and Delia wondering how their impending separation would affect their relationship.
Despite continued advances in modern medicine and obstetrics, uncertainty continues to follow us. Ultrasounds and blood tests can provide helpful information, but sometimes “I don’t know” are the only words we have when we face expectant families.
Uncertainty, however, isn’t always a negative force. The biggest uncertainty of all is predicting when babies will be born. As a certain giraffe has recently taught us, this can also create excitement and a feeling of expectation about the unknown. It is certain that women will continue to birth babies in this series and in real life, and that midwives will continue to care for them to the very best of their abilities – despite any reforms Sister Ursula may have up her sleeves.
Bethany Domzal Sanders, MSN, CNM, is a member of the Vanderbilt Nurse-Midwives, the clinical practice of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing located at West End Women’s Health Center.