Time flies and so do Call the Midwife seasons! With only two episodes to go, we're already into the heart of the summer of 1966.
As we return to Poplar, Lucille’s colleagues, patients, and neighbors throw her and Cyril a sweet little party in honor of their recent engagement. The bride-to-be thanks everyone for their support and for filling in as a second family to the couple.
Widowed father Matthew Aylward makes another appearance in this installment. His nanny troubles have multiplied, and he calls on Trixie for some advice and moral support. She brings the promised child-rearing books (likely Dr. Spock) and tells him Fiona trusted him so he should trust himself.
What follows is a cutesy musical montage that features prospective nannies ranging from a nervous Nelly and a Miss Trunchbull look-alike to a flirtatious gold digger before settling on a capable and kindly nursemaid with a similar parenting philosophy.
There are two emotional deliveries this week. The first involves pregnant teenager Jeanette Owen (Molly Jenkins). Her mother, Doris (Julia Haworth) has already organized the adoption of her 16-year-old’s baby with her main objective being to keep the pregnancy “low-key” and for Jeanette to move on to the life she was meant to have.
Jeanette is sullen about it all, but not for the reason her mother is. She’s been left out of the decision-making and hasn’t had the opportunity to process what is happening to her. Also Jeanette has been forbidden to see her boyfriend Glen who seems a caring and, in most respects, responsible young man.
When Jeanette exhibits symptoms of pre-eclampsia, she’s admitted to the maternity ward. Her mother, who is fearful of not having total control over the situation, is displeased but Jeanette wants to stay.
In the maternity home, the young woman is befriended by Pupil Midwife Corrigan, who makes sure Jeanette’s letter gets to the baby’s father and allows him to visit during non-visiting hours. When Mrs. Owen sees Glen, a kerfuffle ensues.
Shelagh has to explain to Nancy that a midwife’s compassion isn’t the same as passion. In the future, she must be more delicate in handling certain patients, especially in cases of adoption. And she knows of what she speaks.
But in the end, it is the kindness shown by Miss Higgins to the young teen couple that is most touching. She arranges a place in the mother and babies home for Jeanette to have some precious time with her child before giving him up. She encourages Jeanette and Glen to name their son even though it will be changed as soon as he’s adopted and approves of their "literary appellation", Oliver.
Sadly, Mrs. Owen’s dogged insistence that the adoption agency take Baby Oliver immediately (and rather ruthlessly) from the maternity home is the final straw for Jeanette. She announces she will study and get into university, but she is leaving her mother’s home to go live with Glen’s family instead.
The second delivery story introduces us to Vera Sands (Paula Lane). Sister Julienne assures her that her pregnancy is right on course, but the nun is concerned about Vera’s daughter, Elaine. The toddler displays significant developmental delays – she doesn’t walk, talk and she’s still in diapers.
Sister Julienne asks Dr. Turner to get involved and soon after Elaine is diagnosed with a rare inherited disorder called phenylketonuria or PKU- a condition that is just starting to be screened for in infants. Patrick explains to the devastated parents that their daughter was born unable to rid her body of a chemical that has built up in her system. This has harmed her brain and begun to cause seizures.
While Elaine is treated with a special diet at the hospital, Vera goes into labor. She is wracked with guilt for ignoring Elaine’s failure to thrive and concerned that her new baby will have PKU as well. Sister Julienne assures her that if it does, they will catch it early this time and give the Sands family all the support they need.
Fortunately, George (Daniel Easton) and Vera's new son doesn’t have PKU. And it would appear that the low-protein diet and therapy are starting to make a difference for little Elaine. The attentiveness and support of Dr. Turner and the nurses of Nonnatus has favorably impacted yet another Poplar family!
Finally, we learn that Tim Turner earned the grades necessary to get accepted into a medical school program– and at the University of Edinburgh to boot! Always obliging, the young Mr. Turner helps Miss Higgins with her water-logged file fiasco and notices how many of the diseases and conditions his father treated have been eradicated, or at least kept in check, by vaccines and antibiotics. I had almost forgotten he had polio in the earlier seasons.
And so ends another hour spent with the midwives. What made you laugh? Nurse Crane’s reminder to the pupil midwives to keep up with their hygiene, perhaps? Were any tears shed? Mrs. Turner’s heart-to-heart with Jeanette as an adoptive parent who reveres and prays for her children’s birth mothers made me a bit weepy.
Let’s talk about this episode in the comments! And if anyone’s ever heard of a Swiss cheese plant, please elaborate. Is it truly the most unromantic of the houseplants? If so, good on Mr. Aylward for observing social conventions. We know how Trixie appreciates a cultured gentleman.