Call the Midwife: Good Enough

Call_the_Midwife_series_5_episode_5_recap__baby_bonding_and_bad_habitsA man mixes up what we later learn is incense for churches. Judging from his house, there seems to be a pretty good living in that. His very pregnant wife comes downstairs and sniffs the results, clearly approving.

Turner receives the local health report and is super excited.

Trixie is leading her exercise class. Fred’s wife, Violet, has joined and is enthusiastic, but not terribly good.

Turner and Shelagh note that there’s been a rise in cancer deaths in Poplar. As he puffs away on a cigarette, Turner figures it’s down to the bad are in the neighbourhood, but Tim, who’s reading Freud, I think we should note, tells his dad that the constant haze of tobacco clinging to everything might have something to do with it too. Turner dismisses that as just ‘one school of thought’, despite the fact it’s a school of thought that even the government pays attention to.

Mr Incense (Mr Dawley) has accompanied his wife to the clinic. Here are a couple of things to note: he’s a fair bit older than her, which makes his presence here surprising. Even young men in the 1960’s often didn’t get involved with their wives’ pregnancies; for a man of his generation to do so was almost unthinkable and speaks to his devotion. Also, Mrs Dawley is very, very well dressed and will be throughout the episode. Much better dressed than most of the ladies we see on this show, even when they’re dolled up: she’s got pearls, coordinating maternity wear in taffeta and silk-like materials, the works. She’s clearly very well taken care of.

She’s taken to be seen by Sister Winifred while her husband is sent to wait outside. Mrs D is a very anxious young woman, worried about her baby getting sick and what to do if that happens. Winifred reassures her, but not without getting a little passive aggressive about Mrs D choosing a hospital delivery. Mrs D says it’s because they keep you in for a while, to make sure you’re ready, and she’s clearly concerned about not being ready.

Violet puts Fred through his paces, and as they’re doing their exercises, she throws her back out.

The Dawley home is a really, really nice one. And it’s full of antiques, which give it a museum-y quality. And when you see that and then see Mrs Dawley all dressed up all the time, you start to get a strange sense that she’s kind of a little doll, dressed all pretty and put in this home that’s, well, a bit of a relic. A nice one, but there’s nothing about this place that says ‘young wife’ or even ‘young family’. You definitely get the sense that her husband’s mother decorated it waaay back in the day and it’s stayed the same ever since.

The cleaner talks about how Mr D’s mother always had flowers around, just as Mrs D does now. The cleaner says Mr D has asked her to come every day once the baby’s there, to keep the place spic and span. She cheerfully tells Mrs D that the baby will be the biggest thing that ever happened to her.

Mrs D goes upstairs, where her husband’s getting ready for a meeting with a church. He asks if she’s drunk her milk for the day and she kind of just shrugs. He fondly reminds her that she needs to drink it, for the calcium. So, she’s not drinking the milk she’s been told to, and she also keeps putting off reading the pamphlets about how to get ready to have a baby. Hmm. He worries that his wife spends too much time with him and the cleaner, when she should have younger friends, but she likes talking to him and learning about the history of spices and things. It becomes clear, in this scene, that faith is very important to them both. They’re also a really sweet couple and he clearly adores his wife.

Fred has summoned Turner, who diagnoses a back spasm and tells Fred he needs to find a door to put under the mattress, for support. Fred has apparently left his brain in his other trousers this episode, because he starts asking the stupidest questions, like what kind of door he should use and whether he should leave the handle on it. Fred, she’s going to be lying on top of this thing. What do you think? Turner tells Violet she’ll have to be off her feet for a week, if not two. She worries about shutting up the shop for so long.

Mrs D is trying to read the pamphlet Winifred gave her, but it seems she really struggles with reading. But then she’s distracted by her waters breaking and races to call Nonnatus. Crane talks her through a contraction, and once it’s over, she tells the young woman she’s on her way. Mrs D manages to tell her that the spare key’s under the mat, then begs her to hurry up, because she’s in a lot of pain and clearly freaking out in a major way.

Apparently they’re short-staffed at Nonnatus today, so Delia’s put on phone-answering duty. Crane tells her to fetch Patsy from the maternity home if help is needed. Crane hops in her car, which refuses to start. So, she has to go by bike, which she is only just barely competent at riding.

Fred helps his poor wife into bed and tells her to just ring her little bell if she needs anything. Oh, Fred, you’re totally going to regret that.

Mrs D calls Nonnatus in a panic, asking where the hell her midwife is. Delia realises this is an emergency and calls for MJ to fetch Patsy immediately. MJ is reluctant, since she knows she’s basically not to be trusted with anything, but Delia insists she go, so she does. Delia stays on the phone with Mrs D, who’s now bleeding, which should do absolutely nothing to reassure her. Delia desperately pulls up every last scrap of knowledge she’s acquired about midwifery and tells Mrs D to kneel down. Mrs D sobs that she’s scared but Delia, being a fantastic nurse, stays absolutely calm and talks Mrs D through the contraction.

Crane, meanwhile, is taking FOREVER to get to this woman. Jesus, Crane, learn to ride that bike!

The baby starts to emerge, so Delia tells Rosanne to breathe slowly, telling Mrs D how well she’s doing. Mrs D screams and says she can’t do this. Then there’s a silence and Mrs D slowly pulls her own baby out of her. Holy. Shit. This lady is officially Superwoman.

She picks the phone back up and says the baby isn’t moving. Delia tells her to wipe its mouth but Mrs D can’t seem to do much of anything. Delia tells her to rub the baby’s back immediately and Mrs D manages. The baby jerks and wails loudly. And Crane FINALLY gets her ass through the door. Delia asks, as Patsy comes tearing into Nonnatus, if the baby’s a boy or girl. It’s a girl. Crane takes over. I think Delia’s earned herself some cake.

When she arrives for lunch, she’s given a toast by the other midwives for her good work that day. Honestly, I think that should have been followed up by a good scolding for Crane, for relying entirely on that stupid car of hers and not having the backup knowledge of being able to ride a bike like the others. Heavens, Crane! Delia says she found the whole experience really rewarding.

Mr D cradles the baby and marvels at how amazing this little creature is.

In the middle of the night, Violet rings for Fred to come clean up some spilt water. In the middle of the night, Violet?

Tim helps his parents set up for a chest health clinic. One man, Mr Phillips, arrives looking pretty peaky. Turner gets to work treating people while Shelagh and Tim demonstrate techniques to help dislodge mucus from the lungs.

Mrs D’s having trouble breastfeeding, and it doesn’t seem like she wants to try very hard. She insists the baby doesn’t want her and she should just go for the bottle. She points out that her husband could help with feeding if the baby’s on the bottle, which would be good, because the baby settles better with him. She hands the child over to Crane and turns over in bed, her back to baby.

Phillips apparently has lung cancer. Turner suggests radiotherapy, but because it’s not a cure, Phillips isn’t willing to go for it. Doesn’t matter that it’ll give him more time with his wife and young children. As he leaves, Tim watches him light up a cigarette. Turner, too, is having a nice, relaxing smoke at the end of the day, a fact that does not escape his son’s notice.

Fred tells his wife he’s going to open the shop, despite knowing nothing whatsoever about haberdashery. As soon as he opens, however, things get complicated. The first woman has a fitting for a brassiere, and the next lady needs sanitary products. Fred tries not to implode from embarrassment, then hurries out to get help.

Tim steals a couple of his dad’s cigarettes.

Fred fetches Barbara, who now has to spend her half day off measuring bitchy women. I’m sure she’s delighted. Mrs D comes in to pick up a cover for the pram. A well-meaning older lady who’s there with her family tells Mrs D that they heard about what she did and thinks she’s pretty super. And someday, she’ll be in the shop picking out buttons and things for her little girl and she’ll be so proud! Mrs D tries to look brave as she collects the pram cover and leaves.

Turner tells Shelagh that a fellow doctor has asked him to attend a post-mortem at a chest hospital that might be illuminating.

Barbara and Fred head out of the shop and Barbara notices that Mrs D has left her baby, in the pram, just parked out front and has apparently wandered off. Fred seems strangely unconcerned by this.

Turner’s friend, James, shows him the dead man’s lungs, which are a mess, full of tar and tumours thanks to cigarettes. The dead man was 45 years old. James tells Turner that he might want to tell the patients at his lung clinic that they really need to consider quitting.

Crane returns Mrs D’s baby. Mrs D says she went back to the shop, but the baby was gone. Crane tells her she really should have telephoned the police, then. Mrs D says that the people in the shop were so nice, she knew the baby would be safe. Crane, a little disturbed, says it sounds a little like Mrs D left the baby on purpose.

Mr D comes in and marvels at what a sight his two lovely girls are. Crane agrees and asks him to settle the baby for them. He does so, happily, and Crane asks Mrs D if she’s at all frightened of her husband. Mrs D says no, he treats her like a princess. She goes on to say that this was his mother’s house (I knew it!) and he thought no other woman would live there, and then he met Mrs D and he lets her live there like the lady of the house. ‘Me!’ she spits, sounding disgusted. Crane reminds her that she is the lady of the house and asks what happened earlier. Mrs D says she just got muddled and forgot what she was doing. Crane tells her that having a baby is a huge upheaval and she’ll need time to get used to things. She asks if Mrs D has a female friend or relative who could come and Mrs D says there is, but she won’t need them. Crane offers to come by the next day.

Fred reports to Violet that things in the shop are just ship-shape. He neglects to mention Barbara’s participation. Violet asks him to help her down to the shop the following day so she can put in her stock order, but he tells her no can do, she’s staying in bed. Can’t she give him the stock order and have him phone it in? She tells him to make sure he does it the next morning and he promises.

Barbara and Crane do the dishes and talk about Mrs D. Crane worries that the traumatic birth might have messed her up a bit and Barbara wonders if it’s a touch of the baby blues. I think it’s more than a touch, Barbara. The woman abandoned her baby. Crane agrees that there’s something wrong here, because the woman hasn’t really forged a tie with her own child yet. Winifred pipes up that it didn’t seem like Mrs D ever fully believed she was pregnant. I’ll bet she believed it when she was birthing the kid herself, in her front hall.

Timothy lights up his dad’s cigarette, then starts dramatically coughing. Turner comes in and starts yelling at his son for smoking. Timothy calls him out for being a hypocrite.

Mr D finishes changing the baby, as his wife watches from the bedroom doorway. She wanders over and comments on the baby’s perfection. Her husband says the baby’s perfect because she came from his wife and wonders why Mrs D can’t see how lovely she is. She clearly believes she’s utterly worthless and that the perfect person he sees isn’t real. He insists that it is, and that this marvellous person will be the one their daughter knows.

Shelagh brings her husband a cup of tea and tells him that Timothy just needs to cool off. Turner gets up and goes to Tim’s room. He wakes his son and tells him he’s going to give up smoking, starting immediately. Tim’s face lights up (sorry). He’s only too happy to promise never to smoke again.

Mr D has to go to a meeting, but he offers to put it off and stay with his wife, because she hasn’t seemed quite herself. She tells him to go to his meeting, that she’s fine, and quite herself, thanks. He asks if his wife’s thought of a name yet, but she hasn’t and says that Mr D can come up with one. He seems really sad as he leaves.

Turner throws away all his cigarettes and tells Shelagh she has to quit too. She pouts a little about that, insisting that her cigarette or two can’t make much of a difference. Jesus, Shelagh, think beyond thyself! Do you know how hard it will be for your husband to kick a pack-a-day habit if you’re lighting up? Also, you’ll lose the moral high ground to your kid again. Turner insists they both need to stop and suggests she do some origami every time she feels the urge to smoke.

Crane goes to visit Mrs D. She can hear the baby screaming but gets no response when she knocks on the door, so she fetches the key from under the mat and goes upstairs, where the baby’s crying in her cradle. Crane picks her up and she settles immediately, and then Crane finds a note from Mrs D telling her husband she’s gone back, because she can’t make the baby safe. The handwriting is like that of a very young child. Crane reassures the baby that they’ll find her mummy.

Fred’s late getting the order in, which for some reason means he can’t get the order at all.

Turner goes to visit Phillips and once again pressures him into trying the radiotherapy. Phillips’s wife comes in with their baby and her husband says Turner’s just there to tell him to give up smoking. She hopefully asks if, by doing so, he’d have more time with them. Her husband sends her off to make some tea and Phillips tells Turner he doesn’t want to hang around being a burden to his family.

Mr D returns home and Crane hands him the note. She starts to say that she’s sure they can track his wife down, but he slips right into damage control mode and lies that there’s no need for concern, because Roseanne’s just gone to her mother’s to stay for a bit. Crane suspiciously says that it would make way more sense for her mother to visit her rather than the other way around. He asks her if the bond between mother and child comes to everyone. He’s sure it does, but he’s not sure his wife believes it. Sadly, Mr D, it doesn’t come to all mothers. And to some it comes a little while after birth. Crane says that hard work is what makes a mother. She asks him to telephone as soon as his wife returns and he nods.

Crane goes to the maternity home and asks Shelagh to look up Mrs D’s notes and see if there’s anything in there that indicates the woman might be mentally unstable. Shelagh says her first visit was to confirm her pregnancy, and there’s no trace of her before then. Crane asks her to look into it, if she can.

Mrs D goes looking for his wife by the dockside, where the local hookers are plying their trade. Woah.

His wife, meanwhile, goes to visit an old friend of hers. We’ll call her Amy Limehouse. Amy’s surprised but happy to see Roseanne, and she asks what’s going on. She asks if Denis turned out to be a wifebeater, noting he didn’t seem the type. Roseanne reassures her he’s a prince, but she’s just not good enough for that life. She asks if she can stay and Amy embraces her and says she can always stay.

Shelagh tells Crane that she found Mrs D’s medical records and found that Roseanne grew up in an orphanage, so clearly the story about visiting her mother was a lie. Also, she was previously arrested for soliciting.

Amy asks Roseanne what she plans to do now: go back to prostitution? Roseanne says it’s all she knows and that she removed herself from her home so her daughter didn’t grow up like her. Amy points out her own daughter and says she does what she has to to feed her kids, but she certainly won’t have this life for them and she puts aside every cent she can so her girl can have a better life.

Fred is, ridiculously, hiding out in the shop while the customers hammer on the door and throw him questioning looks because they can clearly see him. Violet, having recovered, comes downstairs and immediately realises he forgot to get the order in. He gets all self-pitying and hangdog and says he’s no good, and he let her down. Oh, for heaven’s sake, Fred. Stop trying to get sympathy when you, clearly, messed up. Violet orders him out of her shop and opens up. She tells the ladies that the orders will be a bit late, but they’ll be in. The bitchiest of them starts slagging off Fred, so Violet tells her to get lost.

Turner meets with the head of the local board of health and makes a pitch for more chest clinics: twice a month for a full day. He would also like to have someone come in and look after his clinic while he’s doing the lungs thing. The Head lights up a cigarette and complains about Turner giving him a headache. Turner asks him to put out the cigarette, and presumably to get rid of him, the guy offers a half-day clinic once a month. Turner celebrates his victory.

Amy Limehouse calls Nonnatus and tells them about Mrs D. Sister Winifred takes the call and tells Crane, adding that prostitution can leave plenty of scars, as she’s seen over the years. Crane asks her to come along.

Phillips reads his son a bedtime story as his wife cradles the baby and listens. Phillips hugs his son tightly, looks up at his wife, and just manages not to cry.

Crane and Winifred make Mrs D a cup of tea. Roseanne admits she just wanted to be old enough to leave the home, which was a horrible one. She started to find comfort in faith and would go to church and pray to be loved. And then she met her husband and he seemed like a miracle. But that life can’t be for her, because she’s the girl no one wanted. She weeps that people would come to the home, and ignore her, and she feels like they must have seen something that her husband doesn’t. Crane agrees she had a wretched start to life and had little control over that, but she has control now and she can choose to do the right thing. Roseanne can’t see how she can lead her baby down the right path when she never took it herself. She doesn’t think she’s fit to raise her baby.

Crane tells the woman that her mother’s parents threw her out, and she worked incredibly hard to bring up Crane and Crane wishes she could tell her how much she admires her. She tells Roseanne that her little girl wants her, and she mustn’t abandon her just because she herself was abandoned. Roseanne begins to sob.

Phillips goes to Turner and asks for the treatment. Turner promises to get it for him.

Crane returns Roseanne to her home, and Roseanne races to the door. As soon as she comes in, her husband brightens. Crane gets Roseanne settled in bed and the baby begins to feed. Roseanne tells her husband that she’s thought of a name: Faith. Awwww. She tearfully thanks her husband for seeing in her what she couldn’t. Crane and Mr D point out how content the baby is. She knows he’s safe and loved.

Violet finds Fred trying to re-hang the door he took down and tells him she doesn’t care that he messed up with the shop. She thanks him for helping when she couldn’t do the work, but makes him promise not to set foot in her shop again.

Shelagh tells Timothy that his dad got the clinic he wanted. Tim asks if Turner used the psychological approach Tim was advocating. He did, and that’s how he ended up with just what he wanted. Turner suddenly realises that Tim never actually smoked that cigarette at all. Sharp, Turner. Tim finishes up by telling his parents that they’re his world. Yeah, that’s not a line any 14-year-old boy has uttered, ever. I really like Tim, but they do have a tendency to write him as far too good to be true.

Phillips prepares to go to the hospital and tells his wife he’s not sure what sort of man this treatment will make him. She says she doesn’t care, as long as they have more time with him.

Closing montage of Fred and Violet dancing and the Dawleys happily cuddling their child and each other.

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One Response to Call the Midwife: Good Enough

  1. Ursula L says:

    I think you’re being a bit hard on Crane. No, she can’t bicycle as well as young nurses half her age, or nuns who have cycled every day for decades. But how many of us in our 40s or 50s are able to keep up with those in their 20s?

    And her cycling was competent. She wasn’t Chummy, running people down and doing damage. Crane knew how to ride a bike. She got there, safely but not as quickly as she would have in her car.

    Crane knows her limits. And, on a nurse’s salary, she saved enough to buy a car that lets her do her job without wearing herself out trying to keep up with a bunch of kids. She’s working around the clock as a district nurse and midwife, never knowing where she needs to be next, or how long a house call will take. We’ve seen the young midwives struggle to bike home after an all-night delivery, and Crane doesn’t need that stress at her age.

    That’s a remarkable thing, to have saved that much on an income that doesn’t even have her able to afford her own apartment, instead sharing a bedroom with another nurse in her employer’s dormitory. Crane doesn’t need the car for herself, but it lets her care for her patients better, and she put her own money to meeting that need.

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