TV labors have to be unrealistic. They can’t show the real drama, sweatiness or sweetness because it’s messy, takes a long time and anything too “real” doesn’t make for good TV. I must say though, The Office did a pretty good job with Jim and Pam’s delivery. They were spot on with Pam’s reactions to early labor and her coworkers were appropriately nuts, just like family and friends in any labor room in the world.
Take for example, Pam’s at-work contractions. She didn’t want to go to the hospital too early because her insurance only covered two nights and she didn’t want to “waste one.” She hung out with her nut-job coworkers and hyper-anxious husband while she timed contractions. Seven minutes apart and the contractions were noticeable but she wasn’t too stressed. At five minutes apart, she was more serious but not so much that she couldn’t appreciate her co-workers distractions; like Andy’s Evolution of Dance or Michael’s list of ten ways to induce labor (if done backwards, they might slow Pam’s labor down so she wouldn’t have to go to the hospital before midnight).
Included on Michael’s list were “nipple stimulation and sex.” Michael yells, “nobody touch Pam’s nipples.” It took me back to when I was asked to translate for a Spanish-speaking patient. She’d come in for a labor evaluation a couple days overdue and not even close to “in labor.” My Spanish is pretty lame: kindergarten-level conversation in present tense only. Don’t ask for anything complicated. I can only speak Spanish well enough to get myself into trouble. The nurse asked me to translate natural ways to induce labor. I could handle, “go for a walk” but I didn’t even attempt “ have sex or try nipple stimulation.” Even with a professional translator on the phone, the patient thought we were out of our minds when she heard those. Does it work? Sex does, sometimes. Nipple Stimulation? Not very well, in my experience.
Jim’s in the car and Pam refuses to get in because she knows he’ll drive her to the hospital. When he asks why she’d changed clothes, she announces her water had broken like it was no big deal. Pam, you’re my hero. No drama, no fuss, no hurry to run screaming to the hospital. In reality, if your water breaks, just go the hospital and get checked out. Once in a very rare while, the umbilical cord slips out with the water and that’s bad news.
At two minutes apart, Pam started freaking out and once she lost her cool, the rest of the cast went insane. Somebody screamed for an ambulance and Dwight yelled back, “No! That’s for emergencies only. If you call an ambulance, I’m calling the police.” Thank you, Dwight. If this is your first baby, you almost never need an ambulance. What is an emergency? Definition – a dangerous medical situation requiring immediate transport to the hospital with trained medical personnel in an ambulance. That would include lots of blood, the baby’s coming out, pain that won’t stop between contractions or, you really, truly have no other way to get to the hospital. Most labors aren’t emergencies. They take a while. Get a ride but don’t drive yourself.
You know what was totally realistic about the Office? Just how stupid people act when a baby is being born. Michael, drove Jim and Pam to the hospital, dropped them off, then parked in the ambulance area. When told he couldn’t park there, he tossed his keys in the bushes and said, “I just did.” He wasn’t needed or even wanted as labor support, but walked into the delivery room unannounced, asked for updates when Pam was screaming and pushing and generally acted like it was all about him.
People act like Michael all the time. They’ll run to the nurse’s station like their hair is on fire and yell, “My friend’s in labor and I have to get in there.” They’ll pester for updates, even when nothing’s happening or the nurse is busy with the patient. They’ll press their ear to the door, even when the patient has told them to back off; even when they’re blocking the door so the nurse can’t get in. Seriously, calm down. If you’re supposed to be there, we’ll get you there. If not, dial down the drama. Yes, labor is an exciting opportunity to be present for a life-changing event. But this is not a made-for-TV movie. It’s not supposed to be that dramatic.
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