Leading Through Crisis

Posted by Katie Moriarty on May 08, 2022
Spoiler Alert: This post discusses events in Season 11 Episode 8.
Call The Midwife S11 08 007
Miss Higgins in a scene from Episode 8. | Credit: Neal Street Productions
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author.

In episode eight—the finale of this season of Call the Midwife (deep sigh) we continued with our last episode—yes they made us hold our breath for a week!! We had seen the train catastrophe in episode 7, and we saw the community and teamwork with triaging the wounded and trying to save the trapped. We waited to see how Dr. Turner and Sister Julienne’s health would unfold. We witnessed two births with Adina and Carol. Adina faced the height of joy with her birth and then the depths of despair of learning that her husband had died in the train crash in the episode. Carol faced the loss of her baby which was born prematurely. As a Modern Day Midwife I wanted to blog about community and the community effort and that at the helm you need leadership!!

I saw multiple characters step forward and display leadership and they shined as they led their community through a crisis. I saw initiative when Miss Higgins saw her colleagues flounder after their exhausting work and the news of Sister Julienne. Miss Higgins identified that they needed a clear minded no-nonsense even tempered leader to take hold of the helm of that ship and choose wisely with Phyllis Crane. Sister Francis saw that she needed to step in and advocate for Carol and reminded the hospital midwife that every woman will remember their birth and the individual that attends them/ their midwife. She did not let Carol be a room number to be processed and moved along the cue—but that she needed some TLC at that moment. When I worked as an RN in Toronto on a labor and delivery unit almost all my RN colleagues were midwives from the UK and Ireland. At that time midwifery was not regulated in Ontario, Canada so they had to practice as nurses. Because of them a couple things were routine: 1) someone always brought in biscuits for an afternoon tea (no matter how busy the unit was you could take a moment for a small cup of tea and a cookie), and 2) after the birth we always freshened someone up and then got them dressed in a fresh and warmed gown with a warmed blanket, and 3) we gave the postpartum women tea with toast and jam. I have always wished that was these were traditions here in the United States.

I read a recent article about community and times of crisis and it stated that without frequent, focused, and public communication you cannot organize yourselves. The article stated that you now need technological and relational communication networks and that without them an organization will falter under the stress. It emphasized the need for multilateral exchange dynamics that explicitly acknowledge, enable, and invite engagement so that bonds can form. They talked about leadership style and that the wise leader recognizes there is much more to be gained in vibrant synergy than is ever possible in a rigid structure. You want communication that builds up community and you need to have relational awareness. Within a community frame there is open and mutual communication at its core!! This communication is never more crucial than during a crisis.

On May 5th it was the International Day of the Midwife and for the last 14 years there has been a fabulous virtual conference called the Virtual International Day of the Midwife (VIDM). I have put a link below to check out some podcasts that were taped—and they will also upload the presentations to YouTube in the next short while. It is 24 hours of community—of being inspired by fellow midwives from around the world. One of the sessions that I really enjoyed was a midwife, Amber Price, and her talk on Leading with Impact. She emphasized that leadership is intentional. She asked people to think about what drives you—is it power, necessity, money, heredity, expectation, recognition, ego—or is it IMPACT. She said that your ability to drive change is directly related to your core motivation to lead and will impact the success of your implementation. She talked about not letting emotion lead as it affects your ability to make an impact. She stated that the ultimate watermark of effective leadership is the ability to successfully drive change and that in order to drive change, you must find a way to harness power and influence others. We saw excellent leadership in multiple characters in this episode, especially Sister Francis as she advocated for Carol; Lucille as she triaged the injured; Phyllis as she stepped in when those around her were exhausted and helped them regroup and then led them forward; Sister Monica Joan as she mentored those around her. We saw individuals that had unwavering courage, discipline, communication skills, integrity, decisiveness, and with chaos surrounding them they were able to influence and mobilize those around them with clear directions.

We could breathe easy that Sister Julienne and Patrick were alright and the team was standing strong again (albeit I have missed Trixie these last couple episodes). Nonnatus House and the midwives are a picture of resiliency at its best. This is a strong community. This is strong leadership with a common vision and mission. And of course there is a dash of love, family, and friendship thrown in there. I am excited and can’t wait to see what the next season will hold!!

“Life so often is about the things we make ourselves: the homes we’ve built the food we share, the children we carry in our arms. We turn trial into survival, tears into courage, a friendship into everlasting bonds. We weave our ties by hand, the kisses on a letter, the ribbon around a gift, the flowers sowed and grown and picked and offered up. Love is our foundation and our roof, our walls, our hearths, our window on the world. Love is our beginning and it knows no end.”


Virtual International Day of the Midwife (VIDM) 2022

About the Author

Katie Moriarty, PhD, CNM, CAFCI, FACNM, RN is a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) and on faculty at Frontier Nursing University. She has been a CNM since 1992 and has attended births in and out of the hospital setting. She launched the first Integrative Healthcare, Complementary Therapies Clinic in Pregnancy and Reproductive Women’s Health. Dr. Moriarty earned her BScN at the University of Windsor, Ontario CANADA; MS (Perinatal Nursing and Nurse-Midwifery) and PhD from the University of Illinois at Chicago.