So or anyone who hasn’t seen it, the first episode of Call the Midwife (I haven’t caught up on the other one yet!) was fairly emotional in my opinion and highlighted some points about disability, how it was, and is, viewed and equality.
Major spoiler alert!!
In this episode a baby was born, healthy and well and beautiful, with just hands and feet but missing arms and legs. This was actually linked to complications caused by thalidomide taken by pregnant women in the 50’s and 60’s I think.
My main reflection was that, on the one hand I couldn’t believe and felt quite emotional about the fathers (and even midwives) reactions. How negative they were! And on the other hand it then made me think about how far we’ve come but how we still have to go. I think that many people still, on seeing children and grown adults with deformities, would be shocked and see it as negative thing. Whether they feel sorry for them, are disgusted or just think that their life must be very restricted.
This reminded me of the social and medical models of disability that we looked at on my degree. Basically the social model is that we should look at disability completely differently, that actually the way society is structured actually makes it harder and more restricting for those people, not their ‘disability’ itself. If more people had this view that it is society that makes it hard, our opinions, our buildings, our routines, then it might create a more positive outlook on people who are basically just a bit different!
Back to Call the Midwife more… They then collected old clothes for the baby that they adapted to make them fit the baby better. But the mother said that because they were old clothes, that people were going to through away, it wasn’t good enough! Meaning that there were no new clothes you could buy for those children. This links to the social model again! If we had made new clothes and sold them in shops to fit the baby then the baby wouldn’t have to fit into the old clothes and it might make the deformity more accepted.
In the story line it was the mothers natural, normal bond and love for the baby that really kept the family and positive outlook going. And that just shows how the baby was the same as any other!
This also reminded me of my own mums story of when my sister was born. My sister, sadly passed away 12 years ago from a brain tumour, had Downs Syndrome. She would have been born about 27 years ago but when she was born because of the Downs, the midwife said to my mum ‘you can have the weekend to think about if you want to keep her!’ This I feel was absolutely outrageous and mum did too. But my main concern was that was ONLY 27 years ago and yes even though it was a while ago it some respects, it really wasn’t in terms of history. This, linked with many other stories you hear today about inequality, makes me think we’ve come on fairly far but have so far to go still!!