I’m hooked on BBC’s Call the Midwife.
Now, I’ve been seeing hints of it, thanks to some of the other book bloggers out there, and so I set aside some time this week to really hunker down and watch a few episodes. It’s a period drama about new midwives in London set in the 1950s.
I love it. The characters are charmingly sweet. The stories are courageous. The period is fascinating to watch–those people had just woke from the daze of World War II and would soon be approaching the levels of technology that we take for granted today. It’s amazing stuff and I can’t wait to gobble the rest of it up.
The reason I had to wait so long is that I knew I would love it (don’t you love when you just know?).
See, I’ve been on a midwifery kick lately while researching a novel that I’ve been writing. I’ve probably gone way too much in-depth because I went from memoir to case studies to midwife medical manual.
It really is fascinating stuff, though, and one of the more interesting books I read was Peggy Vincent’s Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife.
When it comes down to it, Baby Catcher really is the perfect read to pick up after binging on Call the Midwife. Vincent was a midwife in California in the late 1960s to late 80s. She picks up on the U.S. side where Call the Midwife drops off and instead of tenement slums, she’s catching babies for the counterculture hippie mamas of the time and performing births in bathtubs.
Vincent’s stories of midwifery are as varied as the ones you’ll find in the show. She talks about cat attacks while she’s trying to deliver, labors that take place in a rocking boat in the middle of a storm, and the many nights spent driving through unknown areas to find the one house on the street where a life is being born. Her descriptions are great, and often funny, as well.
“Many women reacted to labor musically, and it was fun trying to identify the primal origin of their songs. A few produced high, bell-like tones, but most gravitated toward the deeper pitch of Tibetan monks.”
As Jenny Lee so often notes on Call the Midwife, they are dealing with the stuff of life. Both the show and Vincent’s Baby Catcher cover that topic with humility, reverence, and a bit of humor. If you’re willing to go even farther into the rabbit hole of midwifery, consider checking out The Red Tent by Anita Diamant for a biblical look at midwifery, Ina May Gaskin’s fundamental Birth Matters, or Heart and Hands, a manual on the practice by Elizabeth Davis.
Have you watched Call the Midwife or read Baby Catcher?