A middle-aged woman has experienced a number of stillbirths and miscarriages in the past, but under Doc Baker's care, it seems as though she's going to finally have a successful pregnancy. She and her husband are thrilled. Shortly before the big day, her husband falls off the roof at home. Doc Baker checks him over and gives him a clean bill of health. The farmer himself says that he feels just fine. That night, though, he begins experiencing severe abdominal pain. By the next afternoon, he's dead, due to undiagnosed internal bleeding. Doc Baker goes into a tailspin over his limited capabilities as a "country doctor", and decides to hang up his bag. The new doctor who comes to town to replace him is everything Doc Baker wasn't: cold, shallow, and uncaring. When the woman goes into labor, she begs Charles and Caroline to fetch Doc Baker (his replacement has abandoned his new patient, anyway, leaving town to go on a hunting trip). Doc Baker tells Charles that he "can't face her". Charles tells him that she's begging for him and only him to come, adding, "if you're not a doctor anymore, then what are you? Certainly not a farmer. This is the most important day of her life. You started with her, and you're going to finish". Doc Baker goes, and ends up saving the life of mother and child when the labor turns out to be breech. Doc Baker decides to hang his shingle back up, and the new doctor is dismissed from duty.
I love this episode. If you want a good look at what it was like to practice medicine and bear a child in the mid-1800's, than this one is for you. It's too intense for the younger set, in my opinion...there's a lot of discussion about labor and birth (plus a sweaty, guttural and drawn-out childbirth scene that made this two-time mother squirm). Unless you're prepared to answer a lot of questions afterwards, watch it without the kids.
One pet peeve: I wish they would have featured the good doctor (Kevin Hagen) in more positive episodes that didn't just have him covering people with the white sheet or misdiagnosing people who eventually died (see "The Lord is my Shepherd" and "A Child with No Name", to name two). I would like to have seen him get married, have children, etc. The one time the writers let him fall in love, that love was denied. With all the liberties the writers took with the characters, I never understood why Doc Baker was almost always left stuck in a somber second-gear. I know "he's the doctor", but the few times they actually gave him sunny, funny lines, the character played out very well. Too bad the writers didn't pursue that angle.