Call the Midwife Season 8 Episode 3 Recap: Under Pressure

Violet won the election! Hurrah! Unfortunately, it seems like that new councilperson’s position came with a (thankfully short-lived) personality transplant, because when Crane and Sgt Wolff suggest setting up a sort of beach-type play area in front of Nonnatus House so the community can have some fun on the upcoming summer bank holiday, she literally laughs in their faces and calls it the stupidest idea she’s ever heard. Violet, WTF? First off, it’s not a stupid idea. Second, even if it was, that’s an incredibly rude reaction, and we’ve never seen her be straight-up rude like that before, from what I recall. Third, this seems like just the sort of bring-the-whole-community-together event that Violet loves and is typically at the centre of.

Maybe she hits her head or something? Because not two scenes later she’s not only super gung-ho on this idea, but she’s blowing it up into quite the to-do. So… I dunno what happened there. But there’s a beach at the end, and ice cream, and nuns wading in a paddling pool, so it’s all good.

When Crane and Wolff suggest setting up a beach-type play area in front of Nonnatus, Violet literally laughs in their faces. Violet, WTF?

We have two mums o’the week. Let’s start with the (slightly) less sad one.

Mrs Marwick has a husband who works away, a houseful of completely uncontrollable rapscallions, and another on the way. She seems nice, but she’s also that parent who lets her kids do whatever the hell they want (including staying home from school all the time because ‘they’re having so much fun!’ Of course they are, you idiot!). You know most of the other parents around there kind of hate her and her offspring.

Anyway, when her baby’s born (a boy), he has a cleft lip and palate. And at this point, things start to go off the rails. The poor kid can’t nurse, obviously, so he has to be fed with a special bottle. And she struggles to express, so formula it is. With her other kids, she breastfed, so she could basically just clamp them on and keep going about her day, so this is all super stressful for her. Add to this the fact that her eldest, a teenager, is getting into trouble for driving recklessly with his friends, and then the baby aspirates some of his formula and winds up sick. Not hideously sick, but it’s pretty much the straw that seems to break this particular camel’s back.

Overwhelmed, Mrs M tells Valerie that she can’t handle this and wants to put the baby up for adoption. I wonder if she’s considered that a baby with additional needs will find it much harder to find a home. I’m guessing not. Valerie gets in touch with the adoption agency, but in the meantime steps in to give the woman a helping hand. She sends the kids off to school (hey! What a novel idea!), tells the eldest to get his shit together and start helping out, and gently guides Mrs M through the slightly more complex process of feeding the baby.

Mrs M tearfully talks about how she received a round of applause when her eldest was born, but no one’s clapping now. But things do start to improve.

The baby goes in for surgery to correct his lip, and just after he comes out Mrs M’s husband arrives, fresh off the ship. He immediately starts applauding her, which is so adorable! And then he meets the baby and declares him beautiful and is so happy and aww, Mr M is awesome! Good choice, Mrs M! So, they’ll be fine.

Ok, onto the sad story. There’s a new mum in town: Hazel Becker. She has a little girl about 8 months old, fit and healthy, but Hazel is clearly an Anxious Mum. Like, REALLY anxious. You just feel like this woman’s on the verge of a complete freakout at any moment. She won’t let the baby sleep in a cot, just keeps her in the pram by her side at night, and husband’s banished to the sofa.

The Nonnatuns are running a trial of the measles vaccine (oh, how very timely!) and trying to recruit volunteers by explaining just how not benign measles can be. Uptake is initially slow, so Trixie suggests they offer some sort of free gift for the mothers. Because apparently even back then the prospect of your child dying wasn’t incentive enough. They get some sort of cosmetic, I think, and all of a sudden they have a room full of people eager to hear all about this trial.

Hazel was one of the only mums to jump right on board even without the gift. But when she hears her daughter is too young for the vaccine, she completely melts down. I think the scare tactics worked a little too well for her.

When Hazel hears her daughter is too young for the vaccine she completely melts down

Not long after, she goes along to a playgroup Sister Hilda’s running. While there, she kind of side-eyes a little girl who has a fairly nasty looking rash all around her mouth. The kid seems to take her glance as an invitation, and she comes over and puts her hand on Hazel’s baby. In a flash, Hazel slaps her hand away.

Hazel immediately gets a, ‘Woah, what’d I just do there?’ look on her face. Now, don’t get me wrong, she shouldn’t have done that, and I think she knows that, but everyone waaaay overreacts. Sister Hilda stops singing so everyone can watch this show unfold while the other mothers act like Hazel just drop-kicked the kid across the room. The little girl’s mother throws a fit and shrieks about how Hazel hit her kid. Hazel gets up to go and the other mother will not shut up and just settle down, basically screaming her right out of the room. Jesus, lady, take a seat. If I’m honest, I don’t think I’d want your kid putting her hands all over my baby either. You made your point.

Also, I’m very disappointed in the professionals here. I mean, yes, this is one of those circumstances where something shocking is happening and you all have a tendency to freeze up, but still, I kept waiting for Shelagh or Hilda to kind of step in and defuse things, or at least go after Hazel and make sure she was ok. Or something. If you’re going to run things like these, you have to learn to control the room, because dramas like this are going to happen. Someone needs to be the voice of reason.

It turns out that the source of Hazel’s anxiety is the fact her firstborn died in his sleep at eight months. Woah. I thought SIDS was pretty much a first-few-weeks risk. I didn’t know it could stretch to eight months!

So, naturally, she’s pretty freaked out about the same thing happening again. And now she’s worried about measles. When she finds a rash on her daughter, she rushes her to Dr Turner’s, practically sobbing, thinking her baby’s dying. Turner declares it a totally harmless rash and gently suggests she try talking to someone about her concerns. Hazel says she’s already taken up too much of Turner’s time.

Since it’s raining, Turner’s receptionist, Miss Higgins, drives Hazel and the baby home and sees her inside. Miss Higgins is really sweet with her, and comes back later with a little rosebush. She explains that her parents died in the Blitz, and that her uncle, who lives in Canada, can’t really come visit their graves, so instead he planted a rosebush in their memories, which he looks at and tends to and it brings him comfort. She says she hopes this might do the same for Hazel and her husband. Hazel’s husband thanks her sincerely, and Hazel just drops into the woman’s arms, hugging her tightly. She plants the rosebush on the balcony and places her son’s rattle/teether next to it. It’s not a total cure, but it’s definitely a start.

2 thoughts on “Call the Midwife Season 8 Episode 3 Recap: Under Pressure

  1. When the surgeon is explaining future surgeries for Mrs Marwick’s cleft plate baby he says “moving forward”.
    How very 21st Century for 1964. I almost expected him to recommend stem cell therapy to grow the kid a new face before pulling out his cell phone and ordering up an MRI scan.
    Someone’s scriptwriter deserves a slap for that “moving forward” nonsense.

  2. SIDS in the US can be listed as cause of death for up to 18 months after birth, depending upon the state.

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