The Authors of Writes of Passage

The Authors of Writes of Passage

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Each Day is History in the Making

One of my favorite shows is returning to PBS in the States for another season beginning this Sunday (March 30th). I'm talking about Call the Midwife. I love this show every bit as much as I love Downton Abbey, although they are nothing alike. I haven't yet read the books the show is based upon, but I do own them and they are rising to the top of my TBR shelf.

Since Season 3 is about to begin, I decided to rewatch Season 2 while walking on the treadmill. One of the story lines of Episode 1 of the second season was the introduction of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to the pregnant women of the East End. I don't recall this making an impression on me the first time or two I watched the episode, but now this "historical" TV show suddenly made me feel historical myself. As in ancient history.

Why? you ask.

Because when I gave birth to my first daughter (more than a decade beyond the setting of this episode, BTW), they administered nitrous oxide to me (and I didn't care for it; made me nutty). But that wasn't the worst of it. They also tied my wrists with leather straps to that totally flat operating table in that brightly lit operating room where fathers weren't allowed.

Archaic! Have I mentioned I'm claustrophobic? I took off a layer of skin fighting to get at least one hand through one of those straps, and I managed it too.

I was present for the births of three of my six grandchildren, and things had changed so much from my experience in the same hospital. Beautiful delivery suites that bear no resemblance to sterile operating rooms, although everything needed for the birth is there. Husbands and family members present and able to walk around with the mothers. Beds that adjust to whatever position the mother finds most comfortable. Even a jacuzzi tub!

The midwives of the 1950's believed they were giving the absolute best care to the women having babies. I'm sure the doctor and nurses who delivered my first child thought the same. But what will women in 2080 think of the care given and the methods used during deliveries in 2014? Will they apply the word archaic the way I did to my personal experience?

Hmm. I guess we forget that every day of our lives is history in the making.



  1. Tied down? You poor thing! Not that my own experience was all rainbows and jacuzzi tubs :) I suppose that's why I've only watched a few episodes of call the midwife--didn't like watching (or remembering) all those birthing scenes. But it's my bff's favorite show, too, so perhaps I should give it another try. Thanks, Robin.

    1. I know. Doesn't it just boggle the mind? I hope sharing that wasn't TMI. ;-) You really should give the show another try. It really is wonderful. Some of the story lines that have nothing to do with giving birth are incredibly poignant. i.e. the work houses in England weren't all that long ago.

  2. I love "Call the Midwives," too, Robin. It makes me laugh and cry. The background music is wonderful--all the old songs from that era. We need more TV shows like this.

  3. One of my favorites, as well. So glad to have it returning for another season. I've truly enjoyed getting to know each of the characters in this series. And, like Lynn, I love hearing the old music from "back in the day." :)

  4. I can't image being tied down on that hard table instead of being in a bed with my husband holding my hand. That sounds awful! But you are right, that the medical staff thought they were doing what was best. I can remember my mom telling me that the doctors strongly discouraged breast feeding and insisted that formula be used. I'm not sure I remember why. I'm thinking it had something to do with being able to sterilize the bottles and nipples to protect against bacteria or something. How ironic that such advice is precisely the opposite to what modern science tells us is most healthy for the baby. Just goes to show that we can only make decisions based on the information we have at any one time. A reminder to be lavish with grace as well.

  5. Oh, the joys I have to look forward to in the future! I'm so thankful medicine has progressed a lot since those "archaic" days. I'm sure people in 2080 will get a big giggle or two out of our medicinal practices.



  6. Thanks for sharing, Robin - - I keep hearing and reading positive comments about Call the Midwife so I'm going to have to watch. ~ And yes, things have certainly changed in the past few decades! Thankfully improved medical practices make things more pleasant ( pleasant as possible, LOL). ~ Hugs, Patti Jo


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