If My Pregnancy Were A Subplot On 24
When my prodromal labor picked up its pace for a day and we all wondered if it might turn into active labor, the cousin who's been helping us out with Gareth this summer got all wide-eyed and worried. He's 17, and most of his mental narratives about birth come from television and movies, where a birth is an occasion for characters to panic, or show their heroism, or at the very least to yell at each other a lot and drive really fast. Birth on a tv show is always over within 30 to 60 minutes. A high school health class's reduction of birth to tedious quizzable medical terms and you'll-mess-your-life-up scare tactics doesn't really help dispel the tv problem.
Last time around, I was in labor 34 hours with Gareth, and I didn't even make it to the main event before my labor petered out and even the midwives thought a cesarean for failure to progress was justified. I sat down long enough to slow my contractions so I could explain the tv problem to Ian, and this is what I came up with:
The only kind of tv drama that could really convey how long most births take would have to be something like 24
, with at least some attempt to tell stories in real time. If I'd been a character on 24
the day Gareth was born, I'd have gone into labor during the season premiere. I'd have phoned Jack Bauer's house to ask if his wife or daughter or whatever could bring me a casserole, and Jack Bauer would say, "Sorry, Sarah, she's been taken hostage again, and I have to go blow up some terrorists now. Good luck with the baby." And I'd say something like, "Good luck with that, and try not to torture so many people this time."
I'd spend the next ten episodes at home drinking Gatorade, eating pasta like an athlete the night before the Boston Marathon, and timing my contractions while Dan and my doula massaged my back. The camera would not linger on me long before jump-cutting to car chases involving other characters.
About halfway through the season, I'd finally go to the hospital. Dan and I would spend all our screen time for an entire episode stuck in rush hour traffic on Route 1, limping along at ten miles an hour. We wouldn't get much screen time. Jack Bauer or his terrorists would have to blow something up to maintain viewer interest.
Three episodes later, when all our paperwork was finally signed, I'd declare that I was ready for pain drugs, dammit. And then I'd spend a third of the season on an IV opiate drip, snoring.
I'd wake up in time for the season finale and declare that the IV opiates were not getting me any closer the endgame and it was time to change strategies.
Jack Bauer would phone me in the denouement and say, "I defeated the terrorists and rescued my wife or daughter or whoever. How are you doing? Can I help out in any way?" And I'd say, "Glad to hear it. Could you swing by Starbucks and bring me a venti mocha frappuccino? You're just the person to sneak it past the nurses. I've read ahead in the scripts, and I'll still be in first stage labor until the middle of next season."
Ian says he wants to make a YouTube parody series of very short pseudo-24
-episodes based on this premise. If he and his friends actually follow through on that, you can bet I'll be linking to it here. And I'll count myself lucky if the impending birth of the new baby can be narrated in as little as half a season of 24