Friday, March 21, 2008

Bringing Home Baby (the tv show)

There is a TV show called Bringing Home Baby on TLC. It follows the first 3 days of a newborn's life once he or she gets home from the hospital or wherever. (there might be home births on there but I havent seen one yet)

I watched it a few times a couple of years ago and I absolutely hated it. I was enraged by the laziness and ineptitude of the parents, i was broiling with jealousy at the Mother and Mother In Law and often grandma, grandpa and girlfriends that were all there to help with the new baby--which almost always was their first baby. What a stupid show, I thought, and didn't watch it ever again....until recently. Now I am re-curious about newborns and it helps me to not watch the birth shows ; )

Even though alot of the people still have relatives who visit and change diapers and wash dishes and laundry and bring nice hot meals and take away the older kids for sleepovers, it is a really really important show and I'll tell you why. Because no mater how beloved or pampered or "supported" these new mothers are, it really shows you what the newborn scene is, and I think that in these isolated times, these insidious times of secrecy and lies and shame and getcher body back in 3 weeks cruel times for women (and men!) that this stuff is getting out there, for everyone to witness, to fear, to marvel at, to remember, to acknowledge, to GET.

Here are some of the very important things that someone viewing this show will undoubtedly be exposed to--the things that I certainly didn't expect when I was expecting (har har)the first time around:
The Mom is still very very pregnant looking. Her Uterus is at about the 6 month mark and fills out a maternity shirt nicely.

The Mom has bad skin and looks progressively ruddier and more ragged each day. (The ones who wear makeup always go way overboard and it looks really awful and out of place with her stained shirt and greasy hair and swollen bare feet.

The Mom has swollen feet.

The Mom walks funny and seems really stiff and sore all over.

The vast majority of Moms sit in bed and the bed is covered in piles of stuff, everytime, rich or poor, breastfeeding or not, there are wipes and diapers and a boppy and it is always the bed and it always looks like a crash landing nest and I wonder what happened to their laughable nursery with the matching diaper stackers and changing station and I am glad.

The Dad doesn't help very much in the night even when they are using bottles. He might do one feeding but has to make a huge deal out of it and rustle and talk and wake up the Mom and then the next day he proclaims how rough it all is. The nicest nicest dads still are quite blown away that the neonate does not seem to wear a watch.

The baby is teeny and red and cries alot. Alot alot alot alot. It is a squally and scratchy and pathetic and hiccupy sound that alarms anyone who is human.

The baby pretty much nurses, poops, and sleeps 'round the clock, but they are almost always described as "having their days and nights mixed up". Like "we put him to bed around 8pm, but he got back up by 9" ?!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! this is the funniest part to me.

The baby boys pee way up in the air and get pee all over their outfits and the parent's outfits and the parents are astonished.

The breastfed babies spray poo across the room and all over the parents when they lift their bums to wipe them and the parents are astonished.

Sometimes the baby "wont nurse" and falls asleep at the breast and the parents are really worried about it and I get very worried about them thinking they have no milk and all this nonsense and I get super pissed off at the lack of follow up care or lactation advice in our maternity system.

The moms who do some giant cover up tent for breastfeeding (in their own homes!!!) lose either the giant cover up tent or quit nursing within the first 3 days.

The moms who get up and actually go sit in some glider chair far far away for each feeding quit nursing by the 8 weeks follow up segment.

The moms who wash dishes and have hairdos and jeans on and who are not camped out in bed are seething with resentment at their mates and the baby. SEETHING. I have only seen 2 of these, but the hubby was trying to help and she was of the "never mind I'll just do it, you're doing it wrong" type. Fools!

The babies look HUGE and GORGEOUS by the 8 weeks follow up segment but not one of them ever weighs 12 pounds yet, which is what Charlie weighed when he was born and it blows my mind.

The parents are so confident and the dads are so much mellower and the babies are so much more alert and amazing by the 8 weeks follow up segment that I cannot believe how fast it all goes by.

The formula fed newborns, without fail, by the 8 week follow up segment are always reported as "super fussy", or "a high maintenance little guy" versus the breastfeeding ones who are described as "Mellow", "Peaceful", or "Happy".

The Moms always always always cry on day 3. I did too and so did you and so will every Mom.

So, if you can, check it out, see what you think, write me a comment! I probably haven't watched enough episodes to use these generalization-words like "always" , but so far this is what I have noticed. I think it is a valuable show for pregnant couples, much more than all that jabberwocky in any magazine or book.


Genevieve said...

I used to watch it all the time, but I had to stop. I got SO SICK of all the mom's freaking out about how the baby wasn't nursing right, or the MIL who was there telling her that she needed to give the baby a bottle or whatever that it just pissed me off. I have seen probably about 45 episodes of that show... and I think about 3 have still been breastfeeding at the 8 week follow-up.

That and the way the dads I've seen talk cavalierly about how "my boy got snipped" when changing a circumcised newborn. They don't always mention whether the baby was circ'd or not, but when they're just so... almost comical? That makes me angry and sad.

Now Baby Story - that show is getting better in the last season with some actual natural births that don't end up with partners laughing at them or nurses plying them with the beauty of drugs left and right. They've even shown some successful water births, birth center births and a home birth!

Jennifer said...

I have been reading your blogs for awhile now, and wanted to thank you for a post a few weeks back about finding your own tribe. You wrote, 'that in the end the only people that really see you are your children'. That resonated with me, and I find it to be so true. It helped me realize that my "tribe" may be small, but I don't really have to care what others think of me and my parenting choices. I'm doing right by my kids, and that is all that matters. I'm sorry I haven't left comments sooner, but please know that what you write has made a very positive impact.

That being said, and onto a lighter note, yeah... that show cracks me up. About 2 years ago there was a couple that brought home twins. They already had a couple of toddlers. The woman was determined to breast feed, and she did. The guy though...(and I hate how men are portrayed as being such idiots, but this guy did it to himself) spent the first night or two trying to keep the CATS out of the bedroom where the mom was constantly nursing (WTH?!?!) and then on about day three, the woman got realy hungry and asked him to make her something to eat.

He brought her a banana.

One. Banana.

She was nursing twins. She FREAKED out on him for not bringing her a sandwhich, or a meal. It was hilarious.

And then, the guy was astonished that he couldn't get any work done at home with all these kids!

The thing is, they already had 2 toddlers! Why was this all so new to him?

A strange thing about circumcision--my youngest spent some time in the NICU. Every parent is worrying about thier babies. Every ounce digested and gained. Every breath...and then it's time to go home and some didn't bat an eye, and joked about getting thier boys circumcised. My DH and I were amazed. Why put your already medically fragile baby at risk for infection? What a crazy world...

Shelly said...

I had to stop watching that show. At the time I was watching it (over a year ago), NONE of the moms were still breastfeeding by the three day mark. Almost every single one of the moms were "determined" to breastfeed, and yet they had an entire stock of formula in their house "just in case". Without fail, during the first or second night, they would give the baby a bottle of formula because the baby "wasn't getting enough and was too hungry to sleep." Then they would wonder why the next day, the baby would refuse the nipple.

Maybe I just watched a bad batch of episodes, but I had to stop watching as it made me sick to see the same exact thing happen over and over again.

Andrea said...

We don't have cable so I've only caught a couple of these on the fly. Here are some gems I've noticed:

-- A mom who is supposedly trying to breastfeed is caught on camera giving the baby a bottle of formula. She defensively explains that she's just been dealing with too much pain lately and she can't deal with any more right now.

-- A cool young couple, people I'd like to know, at home with their newborn, dedicated to breastfeeding, all nested up in the bed like you described. The problem? The mom had a searing, debilitating epidural headache. She can barely move, struggles to sit up to nurse, has to have the dad help her get out of bed to pee. And they have NO help. The only thing the dad can think to do is to go buy her a bed pan. He comments that he knows she needs more than a bed pan, but it is all he can come up with. I felt for those two. But they were quite educational, because yes, epidurals CAN have complications, aren't necessarily magical and wonderful.

-- A nice set of parents, serious about breastfeeding. Baby has jaundice. They return to the hospital after a few days for a check up of some sort, and the jaundice has gotten worse. Doctor's orders: stop breastfeeding immediately, switch to formula until further notice. The dad is holding the baby while he is explaining this, some bright sun comes in the window and flashes itself on baby's face. Dad quickly sheild's baby from the sun with his hand. So I'm about to kick the TV, because aren't the two best things for jaundice nursing and sunlight?? I know there's this rare thing of "breastmilk jaundice" but that wasn't explained or specified at all. Talk about misinformation. They did have a lactation consultant come over to help the mom get set up for pumping while they were feeding the kid formula, so that's nice. But I wish the LC had given them some useful advice about the jaundice.

Yeah, I'm glad we don't have cable. I'd have no control, I'd have to watch these things.

Kelley said...

Your description almost makes me want cable again. At the moment we pull out the TV on Friday night for Movie Night and it stays up through Saturday. That may change when the baby gets here. :)

It's interesting that you mention how the moms still nicely fill out maternity shirts during the first 3 days. I remember feeling really skinny after Ben was born, but that could be that my stomach just had a human being come out of it, so of course I would have felt smaller. :) Silly me.

Your post, along with all the other gems you've been writing lately, are very helpful in helping me remember to be kind to myself after the baby gets here. I tend to want to jump up and get back to normal immediately, but I think I won't be doing that this time around, thanks in large part to you and your insights. Thank you. Perhaps I should warn my husband first. ;)

Rixa said...

I actually thought I was pretty hot stuff post-baby--I seemed skinny because I was used to having a pregnant belly, and then I got a nice huge chest to fill out my figure! LOL I'd pass a mirror and turn sideways and be like "wow, looking good!"

Joy said...

Its great to see all of you have watched this show and that the same kind of stuff bugs you, too. I still think it is good to see real people who are bedraggled and puffy and dealing with the 24-7 stuff of newborns.

I also was really "skinny" after I had my first baby, and the new chest held my shirt out from my tummy! I was so proud of my new ankles and hands I felt like a skeleton. I expected this to happen after the 2nd baby, and maybe it was the c section, but that time I was one of those moms who was still really big...I wonder if your uterus can involute when it has been cut...
3rd baby somewhat in between, not skinny but not huge pregnant looking. 4th baby I dont even remember!

Jill said...

Blah, I hate those shows (although you're right, they're preferable to any kind of birth show on TLC!). I get so fed up with parents who, when the baby cries for food/change/cuddles, freak out and go, "OMG, WHAT DOES SHE WANT???" Like they keep expecting the baby to TELL THEM and it's stubbornly refusing to comply!

3mamasboys said...

I prefer The Baby Story to this one. Maybe because I'm a tad more passionate about breastfeeding than I am about natural birth.

Thank you for mentioning Day 3 in your post. Oh God...Day Three. I'm 5 weeks along and already dreading it.

Olivia said...

I like a lot of the things you mentioned about this show. The one thing I don't like is when the couple have HUGE families and on the first day with baby 15 people are in their house keeping mom from being able to rest. Having help is important, but I would rather my loved ones space out their visits.

I think that, plus the camera crew is why some of the moms feel more comfortable to cover up or go to a different room to breast feed.

Judit said...

I don't watch that.. but I remember my days 3... you know why I didn't flip out this time? I remembered to tell myself it's only for a day! LOL
and I also chased a few dropper squirts of motherwort tincture with placenta-berry smoothies as soon as I started feeling ruffled. Ha! I'd like to see THAT on TV! I had also had a chiropractic appointment scheduled for my last Webster treatment, and instead of canceling I went in with my 3 day old to get a postpartum adjustment. They didn't realize I wasn't pg any more until they saw the baby!! I had my huge big tummy for weeks...

I am a Monkey's Momma said...

I LOVE when they show a post c/s mom on there trying to hobble up the steps to her home or up to her bedroom. It truly shows how painful surgery can be.

But you know what? In a weird kind of way, I'm SO looking forward to "day three" this time around without an incision across my belly. I can only imagine that in addition to feeling as skinny as Heidi Klum that I might actually be able to sit up without a boost from my hubby, nurse my baby without flattened nipples from being pumped so full of fluids, and having a midwife who comes to ME for my follow up visit. Call me crazy... :)

Lynette said...

I didn't cry on day 3 (I *was* shuffling around the house with a catheter, though, which is another way to get rid of unwanted fluids!), but I was a trainwreck in pretty much all the other ways you've listed here. I always thought I'd be fabulous after I had a baby, emailing pictures that evening and going out for a walk the next day and so on, I thought homebirth would give me that . . . I was SOOOO wrong. So maybe I should find this show and watch it and revel in empathic memories of how awful I felt. Normally these types of shows frustrate me, but maybe I could identify with this one.

Lynette said...

In her comment, Andrea mentions: "A mom who is supposedly trying to breastfeed is caught on camera giving the baby a bottle of formula. She defensively explains that she's just been dealing with too much pain lately and she can't deal with any more right now."

I understand that. My baby wasn't latching at the start and didn't really eat the first 3 or 4 days, to the point where she wasn't producing poopy diapers and not much in the way of wet ones either. She screamed all night long and I was genuinely scared I was going to be evicted from my basement suite. The one day I called my midwife at 1 am and 7 am and got her to come over both times, and she came again in the afternoon, because of the breastfeeding and the crying and all the awfulness. Breastfeeding hurt A LOT and none of the many people (most of them professionals) who tried to help me were any use, and because it hurt I really didn't want to do it. I preferred the baby sleep all the time, because then I didn't have to serve myself up to her for another torture session that just ended in unhappiness anyway. Everyone said my latch (when it did happen) was fine and they didn't know what was wrong. My aunt was in the city one day and came by (my mother was staying with me but was too exhausted to feel safe driving) and I got her to buy me some formula so that I'd have something to give my baby in the middle of the night, something to make her be quiet so I didn't get kicked out, something to make her stop screaming so I didn't lose my mind. She wouldn't take the formula, but I did try to give it to her. Technically, my mother tried to give it to her; the baby was much calmer when my mother held her and I had pretty much given up on doing anything with her at all.

I was EXTREMELY committed to breastfeeding--there was no "supposedly" about it--but I felt like the walking dead. I couldn't pee and feared I was going to end up in the hospital having surgery to fix my bladder (both before the catheter went in and for many days after it came out), and the multiple people, 5 kinds of catheters, and dozens of attempts it took to finally get a catheter into me was a unique kind of torture that I never imagined would be happening to me the day after my baby was born. The pain of the birth had completely consumed me and it was all I could think about (for several weeks, actually). I HAD had enough pain and I didn't want to nurse my baby because I couldn't deal with anymore pain: breastfeeding hurt like someone was crushing my nipples with pliers. So I hoped that maybe formula could help me out a bit--calm my baby, give me a break, let us sleep for a few hours. I felt incredibly guilty and ashamed for resorting to a product that I think is very bad, but I was desperate.

So I understand why some women give up on breastfeeding or supplement with formula. If they had anything close to my situation and my feelings, I wouldn't blame them at all. 3.5 months later I am still breastfeeding and it STILL hurts and I hate it, but I do it. I do it because I believe that it's the right thing to do and because I believe that someday it won't hurt anymore. But not everyone has that faith or that commitment (or is it obsession and masochism?), and I think we have to be careful how we judge. I'm the most judgmental person on Earth, but in the past few months I have learned that sometimes things are really hard and people just deserve to be cut a break.

Housefairy said...

Lynnette, thank you for your candor in describing how bad it can be and still is for you with breastfeeding. My first baby was harrowing tow curling sob-inducing pain ...but not for 3 1/2 months, maybe about 3 weeks. I wish there was someone who could help you or that there was something more I could do for you. As important as the whole bonding is, if you "hate" it so much, I know dozens of lovely bright beautiful smart healthy babies who nursed for a few months and then went on to formula. I am sorry that any of this banter ended up making you feel more sadness and pain when you have already gone through so much. I think I will dedicate my next post to this very subject. Hugs and best wishes, email me if you want to and maybe my midwife could help you get some help? So so sorry that this experience has been so hard for you and your baby.

Mid-life Midwife said...

Hello, I realize this is an older post, so I hope you see this comment!
I looooved this post! Shared it with my co-editors at The Birth Project and we all agreed we'd love to print it in the Spring issue. If you'd have us! :) the Birth Project's goal is to publish work that represents different points of view surrounding birth culture. Bringing Home Baby (your post) does this fabulously, and comically!
You can check out our website at
We will be going to print in a week or so for the next issue, so if you can let us know as soon as you can,one way or another, that'd be great. Thank you and keep writing!
Congratulations on this current pregnancy!

mama k said...

Interesting post! I linked back to you today:

Personally, those shows really irk me, but that's mostly due to my own issues. LOL

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