In many ways, this week’s episode of Call the Midwife picks up right where we left off last week. Trixie continues her stint at the Lady Emily clinic and Sister Julienne’s feeling optimistic that the collaboration will bring in the funds Nonnatus House so desperately needs. But things are about to get sad and illegal very quickly. More on that in a moment.
Despite Mother Mildred nixing the new habits, the Sisters continue to move with the times. Frances is given permission to read secular women’s magazines in order to help her better understand the women she serves.
We witness a prime example of Poplar's generosity and kindness. Cyril is helping the newly evicted Clarke family at a very difficult time. Mr. Clarke has been unfairly fired and no one will hire him in his chosen field of accounting. With Cyril and Lucille in the lead, the family receives donations of needed supplies and assistance finding a new job.
Fred Buckle feels for the family as well and wants to do what he can to help. When Violet gets wind her husband is giving handouts of food from their shop, she takes him to task, but once she meets them she can’t refuse a family in such need. The Clarkes are soon on the road back to self-sufficiency thanks to their new friends in Poplar.
Another Poplar resident in need of assistance is Jacinta O’Malley (Lisa O’Connor). The mother of two is obviously expecting number three very soon, but she’s very snippy with Sister Frances during her exam. Frances handles Mrs. O’Malley’s concerns with kindness and gets to the root of her dilemma.
Jacinta’s husband is away at sea a lot, she got lonely and had a fling which resulted in this pregnancy. She plans to have the baby and put it up for adoption, hoping her husband won’t be the wiser. Having been abandoned by her own mother as a young child, Jacinta feels horrible about what she’s doing but believes she has no alternative.
Then from out of nowhere- SUPRISE - her husband Dessy (Killian Coyle) walks in the door. Sister Frances tries to step in, but Mr. O’Connor’s having none of it. He says Jacinta’s infidelity makes her an unfit mother and threatens to take their girls away from her.
Later as Dessy is sulking in the tub, he hears Jacinta going into labor. Before a midwife can arrive, his wife has already given birth, but the baby isn’t breathing., Dessy helps revive the baby by rubbing its back with his shirt. When Sister Frances and Nurse Crane arrive, the overwhelmed husband retreats to the kitchen.
Seemingly unaware of the O’Connor family’s circumstances, Phyliss reminds Dessy that the welfare of mother and baby are the priority at the moment. He doesn’t argue with the veteran nurse as he did earlier with the young Sister.
As Dessy’s leave ends and he heads back to his ship, it appears he has come to grips with his new family situation. Realistically speaking, how was he going to take custody of their daughters when he’s rarely ever home himself?
Meanwhile, back at the Lady Emily private clinic, things are moving from promising to concerning very quickly. Fiona Aylward (Jo Herbert) has been re-admitted for faintness and fever after the birth of her son. While awaiting blood test results, Trixie and clinic director, Mr. Scarisbrick, discuss their patient’s worrying symptoms. A hematologist is consulted, and a bone marrow aspiration is scheduled.
The procedure looks painful, but not as agonizing as the waiting. Knowing how bad things may be, Trixie arranges for an adjoining room and a nurse so Fiona can spend time with her baby.
The results show Mrs. Aylward has acute myeloid leukemia. Her husband Matthew (Olly Rix) is understandably concerned about misdiagnosis and treatment, but Fiona seems resigned to her fate. The doctor says she’s too weak to relocate, but they can move ahead with a blood transfusion.
Fiona’s condition deteriorates and she becomes less and less responsive. Matthew talks to his sleeping wife about their son and the future they want for him. Finally, he tells her to go if she needs to. She passes quietly with her family surrounding her.
After everyone has left, Trixie gives Matthew a beautiful goodbye letter Fiona dictated. Shortly afterward, Mr. Aylward calls Trixie to thank her for everything she did for his wife. Unfortunately, the excellent comfort and care Trixie provided as a Nonnatus midwife won’t be offered at the Lady Emily much longer.
It transpires that Nurse Franklin has an inkling that the unusually large number of D&Cs (dilation and curettage) Mr. Scarisbrick is performing are actually abortions. She asks to observe one such procedure and her suspicions are proven correct. Trixie confronts the doctor. Though he argues that abortion is currently being debated in Parliament and that he’s saving lives, the midwife reminds him she’s honor-bound to report his illegal activities to Sister Julienne.
Upon breaking the news to her superior, Trixie expresses her frustration with the disparities. Well-to-do women get safe abortions and poor women are often internally damaged or even die. Sister Julienne says Trixie will work there another week and then their partnership with the Lady Emily will be terminated.
Afterward, Julienne goes to see the Turners with news about ending her private clinic experiment. While Shelagh and Sister Julienne may have been naïve about the abortion sideline of private clinics, Patrick is not surprised at all. As Julienne says, now they must look for another way forward or Nonnatus won’t be serving anyone at all.
So it looks as though the midwives will soldier on as Sister Julienne continues to search for a solution to the order’s financial woes. Is it just me or did there seem to be a connection between Trixie and Matthew, the handsome young widower? Did it seem that Sister Monica Joan might be coming out of her spiritual wilderness just a bit? Let’s chat about this week’s developments!