There are a lot of really good moms out there. I have one. I know quite a few others. I like to think I fall into that camp sometimes and other times I definitely don’t. (Whiffle ball to the face? Yeah. Thanks, Mom.) I don’t often get to say, let alone think, Hey, I’m rocking this mom thing more than someone else and come on— don’t we all just want to feel a bit superior once in a while?
Once again I’m grateful to the Lifetime Television for Women in Serious Need of a Confidence Boost network for giving me this very rare opportunity to say, “Hey! I’m definitely a better mom than someone!” In fact, I can say it to multiple women. And get this—you can too! The only criteria is that you either A. Had at least one maternal thought cross your mind at some point in your life or B. Never have been cast on the spectacular reality TV show, Born in the Wild.
What’s that, Timmy? You’ve never heard of this show? No problem. Can you guess what its about? Okay, here’s a hint: Innocent babies are BORN IN THE WILD. This is not by accident, people. Oh no. These children are being born to parents who make the conscious, asinine decision to forego modern medicine, technology, even midwives and freakin’ electricity to have their babies OUTSIDE. In THE WILD. Because everyone knows a newborn baby’s first breath should be tinged with silicon dioxide and pine needles.
As you may remember, it was my own awesome mom (who made the hasty, rash decision to birth me indoors in the presence of doctors, God forgive her) who introduced me to some of my most favorite quality television shows like this one and this one. Thanks, Mom! This past April I was visiting my parents in Florida and while my child (whom was also irresponsibly delivered by TRAINED MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS who use TECHNOLOGY and DRUGS and ROOM SERVICE to ensure a happy and safe birth for mother and child) napped in the next room, Judy turned to me and asked, “Want to watch something awful?”
How could I resist?
Enter Born in the Wild, a show I watched mostly through the slit between my middle and ring fingers and couldn’t hear much over the barfing noises my mom was making. So, what is this show? Here’s what I imagine the was the elevator pitch:
Potential Producer: So, we gather up some pregnant women who are either so hormonal, batshit crazy, or angry at their fetuses that they are determined to have their babies outdoors, forgoing any and all creature comforts like flushing toilets or well… toilets. It’s going to be fantastic! People will mock this show for eternity! Or at least until our next upfronts!
Lifetime TV Exec: YES! Fantastic! It’s like Naked and Afraid* except only the naked part. Sign us up for three seasons!”
Right. We’ve all heard about the water births and the home births and those sad deluded moms-to-be who actually think one lick of their birth plan will actually be taken into consideration (sorry, ladies, but your uterus doesn’t care if the dulcet tones of Fiona Apple are wafting in the background. If you gotta push, you gotta push. Period.) Born in the Wild is not talking about incorporating some elements of outside into your birth experience like the aforementioned water or, say, keeping the window shades open. (The only outside I brought into the hospital with me was whatever was on the soles of my shoes, but what do I know? When casting opens for a show called Epidural: More Please call me.)
First, a note on home births. I’ve only experienced one birth and it was pretty messy. Do you really want to be bothered with cleaning after having a baby? It’s been almost two years and I still don’t feel like cleaning. Also, you’re probably going to ruin every towel you have. Just saying.
Back to our regularly scheduled program.
The episode I watched chronicled Linda and Lance, as Lifetime describes them, a typical American couple. Umm… no, Lifetime. Typical American’s recognize the benefits of living in a first world country and take advantage of all the things we have to offer like indoors. But, do go on.
Linda and Lance live in Utah. Linda eases us into the idea of her birth plan by calling it a, “new adventure.” Whatever could she mean? Oh! Outside! IN THE WILD. They have two kids which makes this all the more strange. THEY HAVE TWO BIOLOGICAL KIDS. They already know how this shit goes down! Has anyone’s childbirth been so smooth and easy they’re left thinking, “Hey, next time, I’m going to save on co-pays and just put on my moisture wicking panties, fire up the ol’ Coleman stove, and hunker down on a sleeping pad in the woods. Doctor schmocter!” Even if you did have two easy births prior, there’s no guarantee three times is also charmed. There’s a litany of things that could go wrong. Did these women not see Downton Abbey? Skyrocketing blood pressure, cords around necks, amnio fluid goes dry, infections, ruptures, pushing so hard you poop. Sleeping bags are very expensive to dry clean, Linda. Whatever their reasons, they not only choose to deliver their babies IN THE WILD, they choose to have a camera crew follow them on their journey to Child Protective Services headquarters.
Back to Linda and Lance, or as I like to call them, Divorce Personified. Linda is 39 weeks pregnant and apparently has a “fast birth” history, which I can only surmise means her fetuses overhear her talking about some crazy idea to birth them outside and they rush to get the F out of her body before she can pack a cooler. Lance shows a modicum of sense when he expresses concern about his wife’s ridiculous birth plan. He’s worried about the wind, of course! It can get pretty blowy up in the mountains of Utah. Linda does what any sane, mom-to-be does when the man who knocked her up makes a semi-valid point about birthing a baby in the Utah foothills. She sends his ass to the camping store.
“Wow,” says the clerk. “Looks like you have a big trip coming up.”
“Nope. Just having a baby in the wild.”
“Well, that’s unique!”
After some quick location scouting, Linda and Lance decide on the spot for their birth site. It totally reminds me of when Bart and I were touring birth suites at local hospitals. Free WiFi and stocked fridge vs. jacuzzi tub 700 count Egyptian cotton sheets. The birth site is where they plan to camp until the baby comes. They’re not going to be totally alone for the birth— now that would be crazy—they do have a midwife. But how to direct the midwife where to meet them? There aren’t exactly street signs or obvious landmarks in the foothills.
“Look for the red rock next to the rattle snack. If you get lost ask the friendly skink who owns the hardware store. Might as well pick up some extra tarps while you’re there.”
So anyway, Linda and Lance leave their two children in the care of Child Protective Services a relative and set up camp. After a night of weird animal noises (and Linda wasn’t even in labor yet!) a fear of peeing in the dark, and a black-widow-in-the-tent scare, morning finally arrives. Lance makes a refreshing protein shake while Linda talks about how “kind of miserable” she is because camping isn’t really that much fun after all. How can that be, Linda? You’ve got your air mattress and barrels of water and portable toilet! There’s even a rocking chair! If you’re “kind of miserable” for the just sitting around part, just imagine how “kind of more miserable” you’ll be when you’re in labor. Linda chastises Lance for picking such a terrible spot and setting up such a shoddy camp. She decides to go home and take a bath “until the baby comes.” See ya!
While Lance is sweating it out in the foothills, Linda’s bath gets cut short when—wait for it—she goes into labor! The scenes cut from a miserable, grunting, slithering-on-the-bathroom-floor-like-a-slug Linda to an equally miserable Lance trying to turn canvas, air, and propane into a soothing, relaxing day-spa-like environment. Linda’s “fast birth” history seems to be repeating itself. Lance needs to put the finishing touches on the birth site pronto and get the hell back to civilization so he can pick up his laboring wife, drive straight past the hospital, and bring her back to the wilds. My god! I need an epidural just to watch this!
Lance shoves Linda in the backseat of the minivan where she verbally berates him the whole drive to the mountains. He’s driving too slow, too fast, too many bumps. Where is the midwife? We need the midwife! It hurts. It’s dark. Is he lost? He’s lost. He’s clueless. When this baby is finally born she’s going to smack him upside the head with the umbilical cord. For the love of all things holy, Lance, drive straight to Child Protective Services the hospital. When he makes the mistake of mentioning her contractions he gets reprimanded again. Do not say “contractions!” They are BIRTH WAVES!
Naturally they make it back to camp in time, but the midwife is lost! How can THAT be? Hey, Midwife! That ain’t the Northern Lights over there. It’s a freakin’ camera crew in the middle of a desert! Go towards the light! Linda is butt-up in the tent, groaning like an old hyena. Lance is desperate to get the midwife on the phone. Linda is visualizing a protective shield. She feels anesthesia coursing through her body (as if she’d know what that felt like!) Finally the midwife appears! More grunting! More berating! Move the rocking chair so we can fit more camera operators into this tent!
After some forced drama, a pale, slithery humanoid slips out of Linda’s lady parts. It looks like a prop, but no, it’s a real baby! Another girl! The midwife wraps the baby in soon-to-be-ruined towels and hands her over to Child Protective Services her mother. Achievement unlocked! Linda had her baby outside! Now what? It’s the middle of the night in the Utah foothills. Umm, I guess we all go home now?
Lance has a major character arc. He’s happy–no, giddy– his wife convinced him to have this baby IN THE WILD. He didn’t know they were getting paid for this gig. It was quite the experience after all. Linda remains quite smug (no character arc for her.) The only one who appears shaken is the midwife. She has no freakin’ idea how to get home.
Thankfully the always-classy Lifetime TV producers took the care to blur out the newborn’s butt cheeks. Too bad we can see who her parents are.