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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