I am addicted to the TLC show, A Baby Story. I record each episode. They run four or five every weekday, and I watch them back-to-back most days after work. When you skip commercials, they go pretty quickly. My husband usually walks in, dog-tired, just about the time we are fully dilated and ready to push. I always feel a little cheated when we need a C-section. Either way, when the baby is born, I can't help but get choked up.
What makes a grown woman, well past child-bearing years, want to watch this series? I'll try to explain.
As a nurse, I have spent my career being present during some of the worst and most difficult days of people's lives. In ICU, there was trauma, brain death, heart failure, hemmorrhage. Now, in a nursing home, I witness the pain of the residents and their families when they have to accept that they can't go back home; that they have to give up their pets and choose a few precious momentos to bring with them.
At home, I no longer have little ones to cuddle and care for. They've grown up and moved on, and I'm sure remember me working, frazzled and short-tempered more clearly than they recall my deep and enduring love for them. Too soon old; too late patient and calm.
But on A Baby Story, the people having babies are happy! All types of families are featured as they prepare for the birth of their child(ren). Married, unmarried, widowed, or same-sex, it doesn't matter. They all experience what it's like to love someone before they are even here. There are anxious mothers, Zen mothers, surrogate mothers. Mothers who don't want any drugs, those who want drugs immediately, and those who decide they want drugs along the way. There are women who smile calmly as they give birth, and others who require bleep edits. And their partners! There are the supportive, the nervous, the gung-ho, the self-absorbed, and the faint. It is fascinating to see that there are so many different ways to get through pregnancy, labor and birth; as many ways as there are people, One element is universal; the surprised and ecstatic reaction of anyone who sees their offspring for the first time. As a viewer, you are witnessing that magical moment!
A baby symbolizes newness, freshness, and an opportunity to begin again. (S)he embodies our faith that life, with all its difficulties, is worth sharing with somebody new. And that family ties endure.
When the episode ends, you are spared the fates that befall the unsuspecting cherubs. Oh, you can see it coming; before a child is born, we select the styles and colors of their clothing; purchase baseball gloves, ballet slippers, and Baby Einstein videos. We try to make up for any unfinished business or unrequited dreams of our own by molding our children toward our own tastes and interests. The pressure!
At times I watch other reality TV offerings, like Intervention. I try to understand how these young people, all of whom started out as innocent babies, and most of whom were wanted and anxiously awaited, came to be so troubled. Despite the best intentions of their parents and families at the time of their birth, these babies suffered abuse, irrational expectations, dissolution of family, and loss. Put simply, life happened to them.
Of course, many more babies are comfortable, well-adjusted and successful; and a few will change the world.
Is it any wonder that I find A Baby Story irresistable? Tune in and you'll see.