Like they did last season, we are happy to have the faculty of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing back to guest blog for us each Monday morning about the previous night’s episode of Season 2 of Call the Midwife, airing on Sundays on NPT and PBS Stations nationwide at 7:00 p.m. Central, March 31-May 19. Check in here every Monday morning for the next six weeks for historical and contemporary context on the show, and some fun discussion. SPOILER ALERT: Some may contain spoilers, so please be aware of that.
By Margaret Buxton MSN CNM
The opening narration of this episode starts with Call the Midwife author Jennifer Worth’s words, “We did not doubt ourselves, because we were not doubted.” And yet – the narrative of this episode takes us on a journey of doubt. The sudden and unexplained death of an infant days after a normal birth is blamed on Cynthia (Bryony Hannah), spiraling her to places of great doubt and pain.
Sudden infant death syndrome is a confounding tragedy that is the leading cause of death for children under 12-months old. Though the statistics of SIDs are well known (including behaviors like smoking that increase risk and breastfeeding that decreases risk it), why it happens is still not well understood. Sometimes, as in the case of the baby in this episode, there is an abnormality at birth, and yet many other times there are no answers. We know more now than they did in East London in the 1950s, but precise explanations continue to elude us. What Cynthia faced is the very human impulse to blame yourself when you don’t have answers. Meeting her in her grief and building up her confidence again was the entire group of midwives and the Sisters.
It reminded me how the midwives I work with at Vanderbilt rally to support each other and the families we serve in these types of impossibly hard situations. The sharing of grief and offering of support is what midwives do well. I remember with perfect clarity when I faced my first loss. As a student midwife, I was particularly vulnerable. What has stayed with me is the way the midwife comforted me. Cynthia found that comfort and support, and no doubt will be a better midwife for it. I know I was.
Margaret Buxton, MSN CNM, is a Certified Nurse-Midwife, Instructor of Nursing, Vanderbilt School of Nursing and Clinical Practice Director, West End Women’s Health Center.
Missed our analysis of the Previous Season’s Episodes? Read them here.
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