When Objects Summon Powerful Memories
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Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author.
Spoiler Alert: This post discusses events in Call the Midwife Season 8 Episode 1.
Every day dawns anew
every morning begins afresh
we seek to be cleaner, brighter, more polished version of ourselves
The stains of yesterday are gone
Our worst indulgences erased
We will be better, we will be beyond reproach
We will strive to be perfect—leave nothing to chance
and, believe that everything is possible
Hard to believe we are in Season 8 and watching Episode 1. This episode had new faces, and story lines that are relevant to this Modern Day Midwife: the topics of vaccinations, abortion and women’s reproductive rights, surprises at births (undiagnosed multiples), and the excitement of a Royal Birth and whether they will have a boy or girl (that particular story line made me smile as Meghan Markle and Prince Harry await their birth). I would like to focus on the Sister Monica Joan and the events unfolding after she saw Fred burning the old midwifery bags.
I must admit that I cringed when I saw their bags being burned and it made me think of the stories each of these bags could tell and the significance of history going up in flames and smoke. It made me have a flashback to when a colleague was retiring and she had left behind historical papers and artifacts which she felt would be kept and archived. However, there is a problem as not everyone holds the same significance or importance to each object. I did feel the birth bags had historical significance and that not all of them should be discarded. Emotions can trigger actions (albeit Sister Monica Joan has many layers with aging and memory) and she felt summoned to a birth. When she relayed to Valerie Dyer that “the crown will be no comfort…A midwife will be…” The bag was part of her – it was the physical part of going to be WITH WOMAN (even a Queen). I felt that the advice that Dr. Turner gave for taking care of Sister Monica Joan is the same we can be given as we address many of our clients—“Listen attentively. Reassure Gently. Love Generously.”
In the last scenes when Fred gave the bag back to Sister Monica Joan—I felt like it was the honoring of history/ honoring of its significance. It was two precious artifacts (the bag and Sister Monica Joan) rejoined with their joys, pains, and hidden birth stories.
There are too many things of which we do not speak, too many secrets, too much shame
Perhaps we are cleaner, brighter, more polished versions of ourselves more often than we think
When we gaze outward and not inward, when we are open—not closed,
Not everything is possible -but there is hope
When the light shines in, hope is another chapter, hope is what comes next.
Katie Moriarty, PhD, CNM, CAFCI, FACNM, RN is a professor on faculty at Frontier Nursing University and a Certified Nurse-Midwife with WSUPG CNM Service at Hutzel Women’s Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. Katie serves on the Board of Directors for the American College of Nurse-Midwives as the Region IV Representative. Previously she was the Associate Director of the Nurse-Midwifery Education Program at the University of Michigan.
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