Well, that was pretty surreal. There I was, with a mom laboring beautifully by spontaneously dancing her baby down through her pelvis, when the birth scene from “Men in Black” came on the TV.
A lot of people watch TV during labor at the hospital where I volunteer. I think that labor itself is more interesting than staged brawls on Jerry Springer, or even brain autopsies on CSI (that episode has played during TWO births I’ve attended as a doula). I don’t judge people whose cultural norms include nonstop TV, but I’m still startled when they reach over the two-hour-old newborn gazing wonderingly up into their faces, and grab the remote to turn the thing back on.
And I know that the more we watch TV (and text, and Facebook — do I sound like an old lady here?), the less we’re connecting with other human beings face to face or on the phone in real time. And there are studies popping up every day that connect that fact to anxiety, social ineptitude, language learning delays, and voting against one’s own interests.
Anyway, so there we were, and Will Smith was attending an alien in labor, which meant that he was being thrown in the air by her enormous tentacles, while Tommy Lee Jones ignored the whole thing. This birth scene didn’t make it into my film, “Laboring Under An Illusion: Mass Media Childbirth vs. The Real Thing,” but if it had, it would have been in the hilarious and disturbing section on “female violence against men.”
My film didn’t have a section on “what if the baby is really weird,” but maybe it should have — with “Rosemary’s [Satanic] Baby” and this little tentacled creature with big, endearing eyes and an annoying slime-squirting tendency. And then there was Bart Simpson, whose first act as a newborn was to set Homer’s tie on fire.
I didn’t draw the laboring family’s attention to the birth scene — at that moment, they were contentedly resting between contractions and getting ready to dance some more. I mentioned in the post about “what really works for labor” that dancing is great in labor, and it really was for this mama. She said it hurt less when she was moving, and she could feel the baby finding her way down through the bones.
Appropriately, the next movie to come on was “Happy Feet.”
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