3 Things BBC’s “Call the Midwife” Taught Me About Caregiving

I don’t watch much television, but when I do, it’s usually late at night and either reruns of 90s classics (Friends) or a “new” show (to me), BBC’s Call the Midwife.

I watched the first two episodes and I was hooked. The series begins in the 1950s with Jenny – a young, beautiful, newly-qualified midwife, who joins a team of midwives to serve the residents of Poplar – a district of East London. The narrator, Vanessa Redgrave, lures you in and out of each episode. The character development is lovely, the story lines are consuming – and believable – and the series balances sorrow with joyfulness.

The show follows each midwife as she goes about her rounds in the town assessing women (and babies) who are pregnant or newly delivered. And those assessements are instrumental in caring for these women and their babies. They learn about the needs of these moms through observation and listening, and they gain the trust through the genuine interest they demonstrate in the lives of their patients.

While I’ve been caregiving for many years, I had an “Ah Ha” moment while watching this show. These midwives articulated clearly to me three things about caregiving that I knew, but had never really sat down and thought about.

  • Listening is the most important part of caregiving. And by listening, I don’t mean only hearing what your person is saying. Listening includes listening to your gut, listening to the unspoken truth. Observation is a form of listening.
  • Time is fleeting. Sometimes, moms die in childbirth – and Call the Midwife does a beautiful job in balancing the happy moments with sad ones. The same is true for real life – and not just for caregivers. The idea that time is fleeting applies to us all – but maybe caregivers are more acutely aware of this truth. Trying to see the happy moments for what they are – and reveling in those moments is essentially important.
  • Cake makes everything better. One of my favorite characters – a nun and former midwife diagnosed with early-stage dementia (Sister Monica Joan) – is famous for celebrating life’s happy, and sad, moments with cake. It’s a cure-all. Maybe cake isn’t your thing. Maybe it’s chips. Or yoga. Or church. Or biking. Or cooking. The point is – find your “cake” and don’t be afraid to enjoy a slice when the going gets tough.
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Wife, mother, writer, and caregiver. If you're here for support and caregiving life hacks, you've come to the right place.

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