Every now and then, I get momentarily hooked on a cable program called “A Baby Story.” Though I’m an older mom, I still melt at the sight of a newborn.
Recently, the show featured a couple that had just adopted an adorable pair of twins. During the adoption process, the new mom found out that she was, finally, pregnant. She was due to deliver her biological baby when the twins would be 5 months old. Or maybe the twin babies were adopted five months before she found out she was pregnant. Or maybe they were now 5 months old. Well, let’s just say there were already handfuls of babies, another one on the way, and a bunch of miscellaneous numbers and time sequences being thrown around, mostly fives, which in numerology means something like “should do well in ratings.” Bottom line: There would soon be three infants to care for plus a bunch of nervous, pacing grandparents-to-be.
In TV time, the new parents/parents-to-be, all one and the same, are interviewed step by step as they prepare for labor, have labor, and head into delivery, all in one, fun-filled, 30-minute episode.
After the initial, repeated teasers showing the woman pushing, we fast forward a full minute of actual show time to see mom-to-be in a steamy whirlpool at the hospital, while her involved, yuppie husband sits on the edge of the tub sipping his latte and occasionally dribbling warm water over her feet. The running dialogue for the next 15 minutes involves her repeating – yea, insisting – that she not have an epidural.
“Maybe, if I absolutely have to, I’ll take a shot of something short-acting,” she states roughly 18 times, but who’s counting? I’m still trying to keep track of how many babies she’ll have to diaper.
No epidural. No epidural. No epidural. Got it. Maybe a shot. Maybe. Not sure. More whirlpool. She is sweating now and wincing with each contraction. Her husband has finished his latte, so now they can get down to business.
We pause now, as I switch from reporter’s cap (not such a good look on me, really – I have a narrow forehead) to semi-retired nurse’s cap (a snappy, crisp little number that was white a few decades ago) to a mom’s hat (resembling hair well overdue for a cut and possibly having remnants of baby oatmeal in it from God knows when). I am a huge advocate of natural childbirth for those who want it, as I did. It’s amazing as I look back on times past and recall how fervently I advocated for birth decisions in the name of fullness of experience. Now, I collapse at a paper cut. Back then, I was Mother Bear grunting out my kids.
But perspectives change. I’m watching this woman and her husband, and she is obviously in a lot of pain. It’s killing me. Can’t she please take something, just for her TV viewers?
She ends up taking a dose of short-acting something and then spends the next few minutes letting us know the drug’s made her sleepy but doesn’t help the pain at all. Now we watch sleepy wincing. But lo and behold, mom eventually pushes baby out, everyone’s happy, and she can’t wait to get home to the other two babies, who by now have been interviewed and given personality tests by the camera crew. We switch to the couple’s home, where babies laugh, cry, look at, pull and poke each other, everything you’d want to see in Baby 101.
In the last scene, the couple is interviewed once more, and they assess their situation. She still doesn’t want an epidural. But she says she’d like to adopt at least two more babies and have another one of her own. Dad, latte in hand, is agreeable to just one more of each.
I’ve been a labor and delivery nurse and a psychiatric nurse, and at this point all I could advise this couple is: Take the drugs. Whatever they will give you. Drive back to the hospital and take the drugs.
You’re gonna need them.