Why I Can’t Relate to TV Births At All

Pretty much every time I’ve ever watched a birth scene on TV, I found myself yelling at the screen: THAT’S NOT EVEN HOW IT WORKS!


For a while I assumed, “well, this is because they only hire male writers”. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that plenty of TV shows employ women. So, either my experiences fall far outside the range of normal for humans, or television producers are… intentionally sensationalizing childbirth? No way.


When I went into labor the first time, my water did not break dramatically in the middle of a road trip in the wilderness, or while I hid from a monster that hunts by sound waves, or while I fled British soldiers hell-bent on throwing me in prison.


Nor did I suddenly double over in pain, shrieking, “THE BABY IS COMING NOOOOWWWW,” while running from dinosaurs or zombies or whatever.


There was no exciting, high-speed ride to the hospital. My (now ex) husband didn’t get to recite any bumbling, adorably clueless lines as he panicked and delivered our child in an elevator or at the top of a Ferris wheel.


Side note: Pretty sure the mom delivers the baby. Can we all agree to start saying “So-and-so caught the baby”?  K, thanks.


What actually happened: After feeling regular, questionable contractions that might also have been gas for about 72 hours, I finally asked my ex to drive me to the hospital because I was basically just hoping something was happening in my uterus. We didn’t speed or run any red lights or just-barely escape any cool monsters. We strolled into the ER, and I said:


“I might be in labor, or maybe not. I dunno. I’m so sick of this”.


We even had to wait in line. I tried to shift uncomfortably and act like a whole passel o’ babies was about to drop out on the floor of the ER, but the staff wasn’t buying it. I was 21 so they could tell I was a first-timer.


Then they hooked me up to a bunch of machines, and there was a lot of beeping and booping and little papers being spit out like CVS receipts, and five hours later they told me, “Yeah, you’re probably in labor, maybe”.


I was still just kinda sitting around, feeling “tightening sensations”. There was no screaming pain, people slipping on amniotic fluid, or zombies. It was boring, to be honest.


Okay, so after a while the pain did get pretty intense. But I didn’t even get the scene were a roomful of people yell “PUUUUUUUUSSSSSHHHHHH!”  I just had a nurse murmuring, “Okay, sweetie, bear down now”. And she just meant “push”. There were no bears.


Also on TV shows, they always show the baby arriving precipitously, with zero time for preparations. In reality, the staff has hours upon hours to prepare. All this weird equipment gradually fills up your room. Are you going on a space voyage? No, all of that stuff is to help your kid travel approximately five inches. But just wait til your first family “vacation”. Talk about piles of unnecessary stuff. Get used to it.


Anyway, at one point they wheeled in a whole rolling table full of scalpels and other sharp things, that frankly were a lot more terrifying than face-munching aliens. But they don’t show the knife cart on TV, either.


Also, if you opt for an epidural (and it actually works) then there’s none of that huffing and puffing, sweating and grunting, or moaning and shrieking. You just lie there going, “Did I pee? I think I just peed. I dunno, I can’t feel my legs” as you play Monopoly or whatever. Bring books and board games, and leave your dignity at home.


Oh, speaking of dignity, it’s not pee, because they made you get a catheter. Shoving tubes up pee holes is another thing they never do on TV.


That was just your amniotic fluid breaking in the most mundane way possible, 13 hours after arriving at the hospital. Or maybe a nurse breaks it for you, to “speed things up”. Either way, they don’t do it that way in Hollywood. Fictional characters abruptly unleash a vaginal flood in a department store, scream, clutch their bellies in sudden agony, and then they have two minutes and fourteen seconds to exorcise that baby in a hospital or else the fetus will emerge and devour Manhattan. I don’t know. I don’t write movies and maybe this is why.


So, if you’re pregnant with your first kid, don’t base your expectations around television and movie births. Base it more around that time you scheduled a root canal and then the dentist was 16 hours late.


Also, home birth is an option. You don’t have to drive anywhere for a home birth, unless your water suddenly breaks during a job interview for the Space Force and then you have to battle demons on a train while speeding back toward your surburban residence.


Someone write that. That sounds fantastic.


Scroll down to comment. How did it go for you? Were there zombies?

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  1. Stephanie on July 28, 2018 at 1:18 pm

    No zombies. But I woke at 5 am starving and while sitting in bed eating a breakfast bar, my water broke. 10 weeks early. So it was quite dramatic, made for TV-ish. I drove myself to the hospital (my husband was working 10 hours from home!) had my first contraction when I pulled into the parking lot at the hospital. I was 3 cm dilated when I was taken to L & D they said I would probably deliver in 12-14 hrs and they’d be taking me to a bigger, more high tech hospital to deliver because my daughter was premature. An hour later I holler at the nurse that I was hurting and needed some pain meds. She went to call the doctor to see if she could give me some, I felt the sudden, uncontrollable need to push and I said SHES COMING!! the nurse delivered my baby, there were no machines In the room. No doctors. She came so fast, no one was prepared! I closed my eyes to push. There were 2 nurses in the room. When I opened them 10-15 seconds later there were probably 10 people in the room. Doctors, nurses, NICU staff, medical students. Lol they said I had the fastest labor of any first time mom they’d ever seen! I was the talk of the hospital! Lol they did take my daughter to the hospital they were SUPPOSED to send me to. She spent 67 days in the NICU, and is now a healthy, happy, 16 month old! My ob /gyn said if I decide to have another baby I should camp out in the hospital parking lot because if my 2nd labor is faster than my first, I’ll never make it to the hospital.

    • admin on July 30, 2018 at 11:26 am

      That’s awesome! Hey, if it happens again, maybe you’ll give birth somewhere spectacular. Please have someone follow you around with a camera if you get pregnant again!

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