My friend and fellow comedian Emily Heller has a joke in which she likens getting pregnant to scheduling a car accident.
In the months leading up to the big day, I thought about this idea a lot.
You see, after the waiting to go to the hospital, there’s another, more intense layer of waiting while you’re at the hospital. And if the first part drives you crazy, the second part makes you hang out in a maternity ward while it goes to get crazy, bring it back to you, and puts it on your lap.
Once we got to the hospital- the day before our baby was born- the whole “purposeful accident” idea became something like a mantra for me. I admit I got a little obsessive about it. It was a constant reminder that, though this was a hugely traumatic ordeal, it was also something we had carefully planned, which was somehow calming for me.
And now that I’ve witnessed a birth firsthand (headfirst!) I have to admit it’s true.
Though it’s more like a slow motion accident, because instead of 5 seconds it took (in our case) over 75,000 and instead of you being in the car, it’s more like there’s a small car inside of you, trying desperately to get out. Plus the medical staff is already there watching, smiling, and shouting instructions at you while it’s happening.
But as a mere witness to the whole ordeal, the fact that it was in slow motion didn’t mean I was any more able to do anything to prevent damage from being done. I just held her hand and added my voice to the chorus of encouragement.
In case you’re wondering, I did not share this thought with my wife until after the birth was over. She’s got a great sense of humor, but there’s a time and a place for everything.
Of course, the biggest difference between the two things is that if everything goes right you have a baby at the end of a birth, and that’s much better than a broken collarbone and a lawsuit (or worse!), in the opinions of most people, I imagine.
Though I suppose you could also say that in both cases there’s a good chance you end up with an angel by the time everything is over.