The pregnancy-baby plots

In the weeks after Mabel died, when Chris went back to work, it was still the dark cold winter and I was deep in my grief and shock. I spent a lot of time on the couch, watching tv. We don’t have cable- we rely on internet tv to get our fix- netflicks, hulu, hbo go, etc. I needed a show that would enrapture me. I got a few recommendations for Friday Night Lights- which did the job. I liked it a lot…except for the five separate pregnancy/baby plots! I was able to muddle through that but became careful of any future shows I committed to. Sometimes it was easy, sometimes less so. A friend recommended Sons of Anarchy- a show about a motorcycle gang. Seemed safe. Opening episode featured a preterm birth of a drug-addicted baby with severe heart defects- given a 10% survival rate. Guess what? Baby lived. I did not continue to watch that show. For my book group we watched the Noah movie in the theaters (yes, I know it’s a book group, but we alternate books and movies). I had to leave the movie early when a character goes into labor, crying because she doesn’t want her baby to be born, worried about it’s imminent death after birth. Watching Scandal, the political drama, I thought I was safe until the presidents wife decided to have a baby as a savvy political move (and got pregnant just like that, no less!)

I became sensitive to pregnancy/baby plots. Now almost 11 months later, I’ve lightened up a bit. I can watch some of these scenarios without a huge emotional reaction. But I can still be surprised. I guess, when it’s the shows that I don’t expect a baby plot that irk me now. I’m not overcome by sadness, just a bothered, annoyed. Most recently it has been Homeland. I’m catching up on past seasons and couldn’t imagine a baby in this fast paced, anti-terrorism show. So when a surprise pregnancy hit the scene, I was a little ticked off.

I guess that’s what shows are trying to do- hit you with the unexpected. I’m learning to accept- and I’m still watching Homeland, but I get to be annoyed, right?

How do you feel about baby plots in shows/movies/books?


16 thoughts on “The pregnancy-baby plots

  1. This is really hard for me. Sometimes I just need a little escape – a movie or a mindless TV program to give me a break from my reality. And, it seems, as you say, there is ALWAYS some pregnancy/baby/birth plot. And in all cases I’ve witnessed, against all odds, even in the direst situations, everything goes splendidly,… and never does a healthy baby acquire an infection and die. I suppose a major subplot of child death is too difficult to tackle for most 30-60 minute TV series. My husband insists that we will never escape it – in real life or in moments where we’d like a movie to deport us from this life. 99% of the western world truly does not believe or understand that babies die.

    You totally get to be annoyed when your reality reflects none of the easy, lucky, joy depicted on the screen.

  2. I guess I’ve avoided pregnancy plots for a while. After we lost the twins I avoided death plots, I just didn’t think I could deal with it. Guardians of the Galaxy seemed safe – and then it opened with a scene in which a young mom dies, her father and son by her side. I found the combination of parent dying and child dying in one scene terribly heartbreaking. Like the plots you describe, it hit me unexpectedly. At least there was never any follow-up scene implying that everything was “fine now”.

    • Oh gosh! what a smack in the face. even when we try we are often surprised because birth (and death) are life events- happens to everyone. I am glad that they didnt just breeze over it.

  3. I like entertainment to be an escape, and find plots involving death and babies very tough. I found Guardians of the Galaxy emotional too, because of the letter his mum wrote for him – his mum says similar things to what I said to Hugo. I’m glad I know about Sons of Anarchy, thank you, I was going to watch it but won’t now xx

    • at least kip the first episode! I wanted to shake the friend who recommended it to me after Mabel- but realize she probably fogot how it all started. because until you lose a child, you dont have the eyes for birth and death int he same way. Friday Night LIghts was recommended by my sister and midwife. Two people who understood. But again, they werent looking though a babyloss lens. (and to their credit I really liked the show!)

  4. This happened to me!! So I’m really into The Fall, a serial killer drama. Sounds totally safe, right? Except that the killer’s wife is a neonatal nurse, and in one plot line she spends her evening at the hospital with a young mother who is taking her micropreemie off of life support (she has to call a sitter because her husband isn’t answering his phone. Because he’s, you know, killing someone). I was like WTF? Why does THAT have to be her reason for not being home that particular night?

    • whoa. I cant believe there was a an actual plot line of them taking a baby OFF life support. sounds crazy emotional, though I feel like I want to watch because I’m also impressed. (though I dont know if I can handle serial killers. I do terribly with suspense).

  5. I lost a friend to suicide years ago, and out of nowhere, it seemed references to suicide were EVERYWHERE. I mentioned this to a friend who said, “death has been there all along, you’re just seeing it now”. Pregnancy and babies are probably that way, too. Reading this post I recalled a pregnancy plot in House of Cards, kind of like Homeland in that it’s the last kind of show you’d expect to see it. It’s hard not to feel like the universe is rubbing your face in these things, no matter how skeptical/agnostic you might be, and I am straight-up atheist.

    Thinking of you as Mabel’s birthday approaches.

    • that is so true what your friend said. I saw birthy stuff a lot and had a bit of an eye to it as a midwife in the before. But before I was more looking at whether pregnancy/birth was accurately portrayed. Now I see it totally differently and see it MORE. And yes- house of cards! FUnny you bring it up because it reminds me of the day I went into labor. the second season of the american version came on out valentines day- our plan was to eat sushi and ice cream and watch an episode or two in the hospital. but instead, we ate sushi and ice cream and then I threw it all up while in labor.

      and thank you for your kind thoughts.

  6. I’ve found even family plots to be difficult to handle. People always recommend that I watch this or that comedy, and half the time I end up cringing because the plots are about kids, parents, families. I am getting better at tolerating it too, though. Early on, I watched a movie about a friend with time travel and the main character’s child’s birth then subsequent disappearance and reappearance figure in – of course the main character is in control of it all because he controls time – super rough to watch. But even Chef was a punch to the stomach because it’s about a dad and a kid. Modern Family? Can’t do it anymore. Even How I Met Your Mother, gah. I did start watching The Good Wife, and there’s an episode where someone quits her job the instant she finds out that she’s in very early pregnancy…

    • yes, yes! it’s the idea about parenting- watching happy families. I had been watching parenthood- but stopped after Mabel. even though the families were non traditional and not always happy- I couldnt even bear the name of the show. I can tolerate Modern family simply because its so darn funny- but i totally get the aversion. its so darn hard to find shows that dont trigger.

  7. I like investigative medical dramas, so I loaded many seires of Bones, for those escapist moments. She is a hard notch pathologist with no time for love or babies..or so I thought..and in the recent series she falls in love with her detective counterpart and they have a baby….REALLY? Also, I noticed that none of the bodies she worked on..and there is at least one for every episode, none was a baby’s..coz obviously..babies are “not supposed to die” I guess.
    I am not in America, but I read online about an accidental child death prvention ad run during the screening of the super bowl that sent major reaction waves across the states, with many complaints that the timing of the ad was in bad taste and ruined the jovial mood of millions of American watchers. It got me thinking, thats exactly how baby death happens, when parents are in a jovial expectant state, then wham! poor diagnosis, no heart beat..if the ad was depressing, imagine what it must be like for those of us having a real life experience?

    • bones having a baby?!? geez! I’ve seen some episodes, but havent followed- so man oh man, I get that!!

      oh yes, the super bowl ad- I watched the game online which had different commercials, so I watched the highly talked about one later. there are some really good posts in our community about it too, which I might share some later. Though I have to say your analogy there is spot on! pregnancy is like the superbowl for our body! and wham… no heartbeat…wham…your baby dies- and yeah, it’s a buzzkill. welcome to our world america.

  8. Another great post. When I was pregnant, the What to Expect When You’re Expecting movie came out. I bought it on DVD and I loved it.
    But after losing my boys I don’t think I can ever watch it again, especially as they make twin pregnancy seem so easy and complication free.

    • AH! that movie is on my netflix cue and I cant bring myself to watch it! I have a feeling I wont think the jokes are funny. I also have one called Monica and David- about two adults with Down Syndrome who fall in love. I cant watch that either 😦

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