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'Call the Midwife' Recap: Season 11 Episode 6

Daniel Hautzinger
Clover (Susan) in Call the Midwife. Photo: Neal Street Productions
Clover's labor is the most difficult delivery Shelagh has ever attended. Photo: Neal Street Productions

Call the Midwife airs Sundays at 7:00 pm and is available to stream for a limited time. Recap the previous and following episodes and other seasons.

Poplar is full of beings roosting where they shouldn’t be. When a black bird gets inside Nonnatus House, Sister Monica Joan is convinced that it is an omen of death. She asks Miss Higgins, who is a member of a Spiritualist church, to recommend a medium who can look into her future so that she can be prepared if her time is coming.

A group of art student hippies has taken up residence in one of Matthew’s warehouses. He tries to be kind and decides not to call the police when he finds out that one of them, a girl named Clover, is very pregnant. She wants to have a natural birth in the warehouse, even though there is not electricity or running water. She does worry that her friends will abandon her. At her pleading, Matthew agrees to let them stay until her baby is born.

He fears for her health, however, so he informs Sister Julienne of the situation. When Sister Frances visits the warehouse to try to examine Clover, she’s arguing with her father through a window. Clover shuts the window on both her father and Frances.

Lucille is also shutting out others in the wake of her miscarriage. She has returned to work since Nurse Crane and Trixie are away; Shelagh is also helping fill the gaps. Shelagh observes Lucille’s melancholy, especially while working with infants, and gingerly asks if she is struggling. But Lucille doesn’t want to talk about it.

Julienne apologizes to Lucille for not recognizing the struggle it would be for her to return to working with infants—this is not a circumstance she has dealt with before. She assigns Lucille to district duty, where there will be less babies. She will heal in time.

Lucille wants to carry the burden of her grief on her own, so much so that she gets upset at Cyril for treating her with care. There’s nothing wrong with her, she snaps at him. Cyril runs into Sister Monica Joan one evening and asks her for advice. She suggests that he speak about his own grief to Lucille. When he broaches the miscarriage to Lucille, saying that they haven’t talked about it, she refuses to engage. But he tells her that he’s there for her when she’s ready, and she eventually reconciles with him. She was trying to be strong on her own, she tells him—but they are stronger together, as Cyril tells her.

Lucille’s grief also leads her to lecture a mother about the measles vaccine. Dr. Turner is running a pilot program for the vaccine to prove its necessity to the local medical committee, which has declined to systematically push for the vaccines since there is not much interest. Miss Higgins has compiled a list of children who need the vaccine, and the nurses have sought to vaccinate as many as possible. Lucille explains to the mother that she could save herself from the grief and pain of losing a child—why wouldn’t she?

Sister Monica Joan fears grief is on the way, but the medium she consults, Mrs. Greenhalgh, says she no longer does readings and won’t even let Monica Joan into her flat. So the sister returns with a cake, and is allowed entry. Greenhalgh won’t let her look directly at her, but explains that she has tired of her spirit guides, who led her to be accused of fraud in court and to lose her son, whose wife didn’t approve of Greenhalgh. Her lone companion is now gin.

Greenhalgh relaxes a bit and Monica Joan notices a raw sore on her face. Greenhalgh screams at her to leave when she asks about it. So Monica Joan again returns with a cake, explaining that her calling is to help people. Greenhalgh is ashamed of the sore, but she lets the sister examine her.

Sister Monica Joan then brings Dr. Turner: she believes Greenhalgh has a form of skin cancer that can be treated, and Dr. Turner agrees. But Greenhalgh won’t go to the hospital; there’s nothing for her in this life—until Monica Joan brings her son to her. They reunite and he accompanies her to her appointments.

Greenhalgh finally does a reading for Monica Joan, and sees something unfortunate in the future at Nonnatus.

A struggle awaits Clover, who continues to refuse to let Sister Frances examine her. Matthew decides to bring her heaters and arrives during a drug-fuelled party. Good thing, too: Clover is in labor upstairs, and her friends can’t hear her cries for help. Matthew calls for a midwife: he can’t get Clover down the stairs to his car while she’s in labor.

Shelagh arrives and sends Matthew to call an ambulance, but it can’t find the address and misses the building. He returns to help Shelagh.

Clover talks to Shelagh of her mother, who died when she was 16, and tells the kindly midwife that she can call her Susie, just as her mother did. Shelagh delivers the baby, but there’s something horribly wrong, as illustrated by the reactions of Matthew and two hippies who stumble into the room. Matthew quickly sends them away.

The baby has been born with her intestines on the outside of her body. Shelagh sends Matthew for boiled water and greaseproof paper to wrap the infant. They must rush to the hospital in Matthew’s car as soon as the placenta is delivered. The baby may not be able to survive.

And yet they make it to the hospital, and the baby is saved, for at least a little bit. Shelagh cries while telling Dr. Turner about the ordeal: she had never seen that condition before. Retrospectively, she was the most frightened she has ever been during a delivery, although she was calm in the moment. She brings flowers to Susie in the hospital, where Susie’s dad has also visited, and thanks her for testing her with a difficult situation. It reminded her how lucky she is to do what she does for a living.