In the Blink of an Eye

Posted by Andrea Altomaro on May 01, 2022
Spoiler Alert: This post discusses events in Season 11 Episode 7.
Call The Midwife S11 07 014
Fred speaks in a scene from Episode 7. | Credit: Neal Street Productions
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author.

So many seemingly simple choices can change the course of our lives. Shelagh Turner decides to stay home from the midwifery conference. Nurse Nancy Corrigan decides to attend the conference in her place. Young Carole’s decisions have led her to two unplanned pregnancies, and no partner for support. I strongly suspect that Lionel Corbett dismissing his headaches led to the tragic train crash we witnessed at the end of this week’s episode.

Sister Monica Joan had been so fixated on the omen of the black bird, and with the train crash, it seemed that her fears had come to fruition. However, I want to applaud not only the staff of Nonnatus house, but also the other “helpers,” like Reggie, Violet, Fred, and Matthew, who stayed calm and tended to those in need of medical attention. Sister Monica Joan also rose to the occasion and swiftly got to work assisting the injured. It’s not easy to stay calm through a disaster, but everyone seemed to pull together and feed off the calm and confident energy from our Nonnatus House staff.

So much has changed at Nonnatus house in the past few weeks. Nurse Crane is away on her trip, and Trixie has left to be with her aunt. Nonnatus House is doing all of the same work with less staff, which has led to increased responsibilities for the remaining midwives. However, everyone has stepped up to the plate and continued to support one another. I loved seeing how Sister Hilda offered up her Sunday off so that Nancy could have the day off with Colette, since she wouldn’t see her the day before due to the midwifery conference. It makes such a difference in workplace satisfaction when you have colleagues who are willing to support your mental and physical well-being, even if it’s not necessarily convenient for them. As our midwives are reeling in the wake of the train crash, they are able to lean on one another for support as they band together to help the walking wounded.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed these days, like the whole world is a dumpster fire of tragedy (the war in Ukraine, the ongoing pandemic, and mass shootings to name a few), but like Mr. Rogers taught us, looking for the “helpers” is a great way to refocus your mindset from feeling only anxiety and despair to remembering that there is good in the world. If I didn’t take the time to focus on all of the “helpers” through these past two years of pandemic, I don’t know that I could continue to work in health care. I am so proud to work with a team that works together, that supports one another, and that you can trust when you’re in an emergency situation. I may not have been in any major disasters lately like our friends in Poplar, but I have had several hectic shifts on labor and delivery that I got through thanks to my wonderful colleagues. I caught five babies in one 12 hour shift recently, including one baby caught bare-handed in the waiting room! It was easy to feel overwhelmed when I had a full OBED and so many patients in labor, but I really got through it due to everyone’s willingness to help out and do their part. With many thanks that night to my physician colleague helping with to triage patients and get everyone’s orders written, and my nursing colleagues helping to keep me on task and keep eyes on the patients I couldn’t be at the bedside with, we made it through—and most importantly, with healthy and happy moms and babies.

One of my favorite aspects of Call the Midwife is that I feel like I can glean little bits of inspiration from the midwives and almost use them as mentors in my real life. I want to be the calm voice in the midst of a challenging time, like Lucille and Sister Monica Joan after the train accident. I want to support my colleagues through difficult times because I know they would do the same for me. I want to provide kind, compassionate care, similar to the way that Sister Frances was able to provide for Carole. I want to not only look to the helpers for peace and inspiration, but I want to be one of the helpers whenever I can.

About the Author

Andrea Altomaro MS, CNM, IBCLC has been nurse-midwife since 2012 and is currently working for the Henry Ford Health System. Andrea knew from a young age that she was interested in pregnancy and birth, and decided to become a nurse. When she learned about the role of certified nurse midwives when she was in nursing school, she knew she had found her path.