Like many, I am often late to the game when it comes to really amazing television shows. There are times when I hear friends talking about a show like "Game of Thrones" or "The Walking Dead" and I'm absolutely unaware of the trend going on in pop culture. I'm cool like that. I have my favorites that I watch again and again, but I don't regularly stumble upon something that shakes me to the core and leaves me powerless to the binge. You know what I'm talking about. A show that grabs you by the throat and takes every waking minute until the anticipated "show hole" comes lurking to swallow your soul (dramatic music swells).
Well, my mom had told me for ages to try "Call the Midwife" on Netflix. It's a BBC show that takes place in the late 1950's in Poplar, England- which is depicted as a somewhat impoverished neighborhood still very much impacted by post WWII economic and emotional turmoil. Other than the exceptional character development, costumes and historically relevant happenings, this is a show about the midwives that worked for England's national health care system- making home visits in literally all (yucky) environments bringing little ones in the world. As a social worker and a mother I found this immediately captivating and was moved to tears within the first hour of viewing. What especially struck me was the fragility of the whole birthing process. About a million things can go wrong in both mother and baby. Every healthy birth is a miracle. Really.
There are mothers that believe they haven't had the true maternal experience if they don't give birth naturally. Some even think that a child isn't properly bonded if they don't get some chemical excretion from the birth canal. Others believe that an alternate delivery may cause long-term trauma on a child, creating anxiety and other such things designed to shame mothers into feeling "less than" if they don't have a picture perfect birthing story. The truth of the matter is that if it weren't for modern medicine, both my daughter and I would have died. I had a fibroid tumor on my uterus that grew to the size of a grapefruit when I was pregnant with her. It put me into labor at 25 weeks, and bedrest until delivery at 35 weeks. She was born cesarean and had a stay in the NICU. That year I had a total of five hospital stays from complications including sepsis and other such nasty surprises. When I say I would have died, I mean it.
Sinking into the binge of this show allowed me to explore a world in which we wouldn't have been saved. One where midwives and doctors would make their best guess, without ultrasounds and MRI's- and the hour would end in tragedy. I am so thankful for my daughter. I'm thankful for the medical community that allowed me the care we needed to kiss each other goodnight tonight and every night. I'm so very thankful that I didn't need a midwife. Perhaps I am missing an experience as a woman, to not bear down and push life out of my body in a traditional way. What I'm not missing is a bond that is so pure and unconditional that the english language doesn't offer words to match it. Gratitude overcame me as I watched this show. We take so much for granted. As much as technology has destroyed our anonymity and facilitated a near zombie apocalypse with text-walking, it has given me my daughter, kept my dad alive post-bypass, and given me a forum in which to share this gratitude with you. Happy Mother's Day.