Hope Hidden in the Darkest Corners: Call the Midwife

Call the Midwife

Call the Midwife

Over Christmas break, I finally caught up on the BBC’s miniseries entitled Call the Midwife.  I suppose the correct term would be “binge-watched.”  The gentle, charming characters and marvelous storytelling meant I was hooked right from the get-go.  Midwife is inspired by the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, who was a young midwife in London’s impoverished East end during the 1950’s.  Jenny lives with the sisters of Nonnatus House, an order of the Anglican church.

As they move among the people of Poplar, the community they serve, the women are greeted with all types of situations. From the young African mother facing racism in her building to the mentally-ill teenager who mourns the adoption of her baby, Jenny and the other midwives must handle the women they meet with dignity and delicacy.

One woman in the series who has stayed with me is the mother of eight who finds out she is expecting again.  She is devastated to learn the news, because she and her husband can hardly put food on the table as it is. Jenny suspects that the woman may try to harm the baby in order to avoid having to support a ninth child. Jenny is compassionate with the mother, but there is no mincing of the vocabulary as there is in our culture. She says emphatically that if the mother kills the baby within her, she may also kill herself in the process.  It’s a baby — not a “pregnancy” — and the preservation of that life as well as the mother’s is strenuously encouraged.

But the show is also supremely sympathetic in displaying the family’s difficulties.  I guess that is what stuck out to me — the story didn’t shy away from having an honest look at life.  The writers did not feel compelled to cast the story into broad, black and white relief. The mother was neither vilified nor exonerated. The story was simply told.

There is never any question that the world of the midwives is governed by God, and as a result, that there is an “ought-to” and an “ought-not-to.”  Vows are taken seriously. Love in its various forms is celebrated.  Life is hard.  Faith is necessary.

“In the East End I found grace and faith and hope hidden in the darkest corners. I found tenderness and squalor and laughter amid filth.”  – Episode 1.6

And Now, Some Frivolous Questions

Does it really make a difference that I use undereye cream? Am I going to notice a difference when I’m seventy, or would that time have been better spent going to bed two minutes earlier?

When will my four year old daughter stop talking like she is two?  We spent so much time on speaking properly, and now she has scrapped it all and started baby talk again.  Yucko.

Why is fall so AWESOME?!!  (nevermind, that is not frivolous.  It’s because IT IS AWESOME.)

What is it about those little “pods” of laundry detergent that makes doing laundry somehow more accessible to my kids?  (For you faithful readers, we have taken a break from this stuff, and I might not go back.  The clothes started to stink, and no amount of Oxy was helping)

Does anyone know when season three of Downton Abbey airs over here across the pond?  I have a few Brits in my twitter stream and they’re torturing me with the Downton tweets.

Not a question:  Fall is awesome in the South for the same reason that spring is awesome in the Northeast.  It’s because you have experienced the same weather pattern for SO LONG that the relief causes you to completely lose your head in jubilation.

In conclusion:

College students in Boston sunbathing in 50 degrees

is equivalent to

Southern women wearing tall leather boots and scarves in 70 degrees

Stop Me if You’ve Seen This One

The other night I came across this picture of actor Jason Alexander:

If you watched Seinfeld, you know it’s from the episode when George decides to wear a toupee.  The storyline comes to a climax when Elaine snatches the hairpiece from his head and throws it out Jerry’s apartment window.


When I saw the picture, I giggled and showed it to David, hoping to spawn a happy memory.  David immediately said, “let me show you something,” and proceeded to show me this:

And then my head exploded.
Did you have any idea that Jason Alexander was the dancing McDLT guy?  This was a new revelation to me.  
I remember the sandwich well…I remember thinking it would have been perfect if only they had put the cheese on the HOT side so it would melt.  Who thought putting it on the COLD side was a good idea?  That’s just crazy talk.

Cosmo Kramer, Nine Months Along

Today is my third son’s eighth birthday.  He would have been an April baby if everything had gone according to plan.  But, as these things often do, things went awry.

Andrew is the only baby whose labor was completely different than the others.  With all my other kids, I went into labor a few days early, had steadily increasing contractions — which increased with walking — and less than seven hours later, I was holding a baby in my arms.  Jonathan and Maddie came in less than three hours from the time labor began in earnest.

Andrew, however, was at the mercy of his foolish mother who got excited about a game of Cranium in her enlarged state, and he arrived ten days early.

We were living in southern California at the time, and the men of the church had gone out of town on a retreat for the weekend.  The women who were left home alone decided to get together for a game night.  Although my husband had stayed home from the retreat for fear that I would have the baby while he was gone, he told me it would be good for me to get out of the house and have some fun.

So I went to my friend Amy’s house, where the night began with some karaoke.  We had some snacks and moved on to Cranium.  If you haven’t played it, Cranium is a combination of drawing, singing, trivia, and charades.  And naturally the charades would fall to the pregnant lady.

As I remember it, the question was an “all-play,” which means that I was competing at the same time as Amy.  We were given the name “Kramer,” as in Cosmo Kramer, as in Jerry Seinfeld’s neighbor.

HERE IS THE PROBLEM.  We were in a room full of women who were either too young, too holy, or too busy to watch Seinfeld.  It ended up that Amy and I were the only people who knew who Kramer was.  So basically we were given the impossible task of getting people to guess something they would never, ever guess. The closest thing we could hope for was that maybe someone had seen a commercial with him in it.  Or lightning would strike and someone would just happen to say the right name.  Let’s just say the odds were LONG.

But Amy and I were good sports and maybe too competitive for our own good, and so as the timer began, we started our Kramer impersonations enthusiastically.  Since we were in Amy’s front room, right by the door, I decided to use the door as a tool, because Kramer is known for his entrances:

This exit/entrance strategy was especially perplexing to a few team members because they thought I was going home.

Onward we forged, for the full minute allotted, with our poor team members shouting out, “You’re coming home!  Hair!  Door!  Oh, it’s that guy…oh, I don’t know his name..Sorry!”

As the time ran out, I made one more spectacular attempt, sliding in the door and up against the wall.  I continued my Kramer-esque jerky movements along the wall, hoping someone – anyone – would have a moment of inspiration and shout out the right name.  However, whereas Michael Richards (the actor who played Kramer) is a lithe, sprightly man with obvious physical comedy skills, I was a thirty-five-pounds-overweight, off-balance, pregnant woman who carried WAAAAYYY out in front.

I slid along the wall and suddenly realized that my weight was causing me to steadily gain momentum.  I can see it even now in slow motion…sliding, sliding, jerking, faster…faster…until I was headed in a definite downward direction towards Amy and Uel’s beautiful white ceramic tile floor.

To the women in the living room, I imagine this looked like I was going along with the imitation until I suddenly dropped out of sight behind the couch.  They just thought I was really into it.  Kramer is REALLY clumsy sometimes!  They all roared with laughter!

Meanwhile, I was face down on the floor checking to make sure all my teeth were in place.  Miraculously, I hadn’t fallen on my belly, but I remember my face hitting pretty hard, and I was laughing at the time, so I quickly slid my tongue over my front teeth to make sure they were all there.  Yes, (phew!) yes, they were.  The last thing I wanted was a picture from the hospital with my new baby, smiling away looking like a hockey player.  Vanity, thy name is Kelly.

I remember the moment when the girls realized that I hadn’t popped up yet, and they all yelled, “OH! KELLY!” at the same time.  They were all sympathy and compassion and I was laughing at myself, feeling humiliated.  I wish someone had been videotaping…it would have been a GEM.

After the games were over, I drove home and started having contractions.  They were on and off all night, and then finally stopped.  We got up for church as normal, put a chicken in the crockpot for lunch, and headed off for Sunday service.  As soon as I sat down in Sunday School at 9 AM, contractions started up again.

It was a sluggish labor, and contractions never picked up unless I remained absolutely still.  Eventually, at six that night, my doctor gave me pitocin to help things along.  It certainly did that.  Andrew was born shortly after seven.  In the picture from the hospital — which is in storage, or I’d post it — you can see my top lip is slightly swollen.  This change is an improvement for me, since I normally have almost no upper lip.

I do have all my teeth in that picture.  I haven’t tried impersonating Kramer since.

A Dead Horse Worth Beating

Everywhere I turn on the internet this week, people are talking about the series Downton Abbey.  It has not prevented me from adding my two cents, of course.

If you are at all a fan of Jane Austen, the Brontes, British people, pretty clothes, interesting architecture, history, or just plain old good television, you should watch this series.  I happened across it on Netflix a month ago, and watched the first season in time to catch up with season two, which started last Sunday.

The series explores the ups and downs of Lord Grantham and his family, as well as the trials and tribulations of their servants.  Dame Maggie Smith (above) does not disappoint as the sharp-tongued, witty matriarch of the family, Violet.  One of my friends recently confessed that she has a personal goal of “doing old like Maggie Smith.”  An excellent goal, in my opinion!

You can catch season one streaming on Netflix* –and on PBS online until 1/17! —  and season two is at the PBS Masterpiece website.  Locally, it airs on PBS on Sunday nights at 9.

*It will suck you in. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


 FACT:  I used to own these Keds.  However, I did not pay $125 for them.

They’re bringing them back!

FACT:  Every time I hear the opening strains of “I Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum come on the radio, I yell out “DRUNK-DIALING SONG!”  Softer hearted people might like it, but I can’t stand that it was the song of the year last year.  Seriously, what good ever came from drunk-dialing your ex?!

FACT:  There are two actors who I most associate with my husband.  I think these guys are a little bit to blame (credit) for my falling for David:

1. Jimmy Stewart



2. Danny Kaye

Here’s Danny (R) hamming it up with Bing Crosby in White Christmassource

(Congrats, Melanie, you got it right! I asked this question on facebook and twitter last week and Melanie got it right away.  She also said she’d like to see David dance like Danny.  I second that.)

FACT:  Danny Kaye in White Christmas reminds both David and me of a more modern small-screen character…

Cosmo Kramer from “Seinfeld” — source

Abortion and Health Care Reform

Hat tip to JT for this helpful Q&A.

Basically what it says is that the executive order is similar to Michael Scott declaring bankruptcy: