Thursday, May 24, 2007

Labor is not a Spectator Sport

So one of my obsessions, pregnancy-wise, is watching the myriad of reality shows on tv dealing with birthing babies. You know the genre: A Baby Story, Bringing Home Baby, Runway Moms (although seeing fabulous looking pregnant women always makes me feel inadequate, I still watch the show- glutton for punishment, I guess), Babies: Special Delivery, et cetera. The premise is the same, follow a mom/couple through the last bit of her pregnancy and her labor/delivery, followed by a brief stint of the life at home post-birth.

With the exception of Bringing Home Baby the focal point of all these shows is the labor scene with all the requisite shots of the mom huffing, puffing, grunting and screaming through the pain. Why do I watch? I'm not sure. But I do... I can't help it.

I enjoy watching but two things do bother me.

Does no one take the pre-natal classes I had to take? Some of the couples are sooooooooooooo clueless. They don't know what to expect other than the general notion that a baby will somehow appear at the end of the day. Now I know that not everyone has access to all the resources I did but seriously folks. Last week I watched one episode where the woman was a mere six hours into labor and was freaking out because (insert extremely whiny, pitiful sounding, sob inflected voice) "nobody told her it was going to take so long."

So long? Puh-lease. You got an epidural at 2 cm- how bad can it be? You just said you can't feel your feet- are you really in pain or are you just bored? We all know that those of us who grew up in the MTV era supposedly have no attention span.

As the woman who had a 48 hour labor episode before they wheeled me in for a c-section, peddle your sad little pity party elsewhere. Really. You have had nine months (give or take) to prepare for this moment- could you not have read a book, a pamphlet, or a website? Asked your mom, hell, asked any woman who has kids- somewhere along the line someone would have disabused you of the notion that labor is a relatively rapid experience (and yes I know that some women have miraculously quick births but thinking about them just makes me jealous and bitter so I try not to think about them).

My second issue? This is probably just quirk of my personality but I do not understand the women who have a bajillion people in the birthing room with them. Yes, birth is a wonderful, magical thing- but folks, no matter how you look at it, it ain't pretty. And call me crazy but the last thing in the world I would ever want would be my in-laws in the room with me. And do you really think your five year old son/daughter needs or wants to watch you give birth? Seeing mommy crying and screaming for multiple hours? My daughter freaks out if I lay down on the couch, thinking something is wrong- seeing me give birth would no doubt result in my paying for years of therapy for her. Sorry, but the only person not in the medical profession who is allowed in the room with me is my husband. He sees me every morning with bed-head and all those other not so glamorous moments we all experience. I think he has a realistic view of me and the vigors of labor won't disillusion him at this point in our relationship. Besides, he had a hand in this process and should be there so I can wring his neck and call him names when the pain kicks in for the miracle that is birth.

I've spent a great deal of my life on stage but ladies, birth is not performance art.

I promise no ranting in my next post, I have knitting content to share.


mama k said...

Sometimes lurker here, but I had to comment.
This post was cracking me up. So true! At about 3 months along I realized the kiddo was going to have to get OUT somehow and I was terrified. I was a "natural" gal who researched everything and took 12 weeks of Bradley classes. I cannot even fathom going through labor and delivery without knowing what to expect... at least just a little bit.
And yeah, I specificaly requested no interns in my room. I only had my DH, a doula, the nurses and my OB. Just my person preferance I suppose.

mama k said...

Meant to say PERSONAL preferance. duh.

amandasan said...

i've never had a baby, but i've heard enough stories at purly girls to think that i may have a somewhat realistic idea of what happens :) monday nights are very educational!

Knitting Mama said...

I made it clear that I wanted no one to be in the labor room except my husband. And everyone understood. I didn't want my family to be there when I was pushing a baby through my you know what!

I did have 1 intern in the room, with my doctor, because my doctor once had to learn and she has to now learn from my doc. She was really nice, so I didn't mind.

And those girls you explained on the tv shows, they can take their 2 hour labors and shove it up their hoo-hoo's! I had 32 and a half hours with Sean, and I think they make it seem worse on TV b/c they "act" a little! I used to watch those shows, but when pregnant, I just sat there crying by the end of the episode. I guess it's NOT a good thing to watch while pregnant! Oy, - I miss being pregnant!

Duchess said...

Good grief, I didn't even know that such shows existed (I live under a rock.) Why on earth would anyone choose to make something so private and personal a public event? People baffle me!
Also, even in my sub-terranina living situation (under a rock) and my knack for denial, I am fully aware that 5-6 hour labor is fast and that 10-12 hours is not at all rare. However, 48 hours? Darling, I hope this next one is much easier, that is too much. I'll be sending my "naive lack of fear about birthing" vibes your way!