When Seth Meyers told the dramatic tale of his second son's birth last week — his wife Alexi Ashe delivered in the lobby of their NYC apartment building — I felt the required levels of awe and "aww!" Plus, if I'm honest, some background level envy. Because my two kids' births, while they were a pretty big deal for me and my husband, didn't really give us much material. I mean, we were in shock that we'd produced a person and could barely form words, but our birthing stories were a snooze-fest — a calm sea of epidurals, averages, and, "Yep, that's what the book said would happen."
While I'm extremely grateful that nothing much went wrong, part of me thinks a romping great twist would have been cool. Nothing medical, mind you. And not, "Uh-oh, two heads!" or, "Is that a human foot?" But, oh — to give birth in the bustling lobby of your building while the fire department looks on and then, to top it off, one of New York's bravest cuts the cord. Now THAT'S a great icebreaker.
So many people I know dined out, and probably still do, on their kid's grand entrance. There was the mom in my birthing group who labored for weeks without pain meds; the baby's head was basically a watermelon. I also know more than one woman who gave birth up against a hospital vending machine. And while having someone fall out of your body as you cling to a contraption that provides junk food to exhausted medics is distinctly less glamorous than speedily dilating on what I'm sure was a very nice towel in a very nice co-op building foyer, I think I could have spun it into something awesome. Instead, the best tale I could tell while lying in a hospital bed the day after my son was born in 2015 was, "So, the matzah ball soup they brought me for lunch was watery." No, really. That happened.
Yeah, I know: This is all ridiculous. It doesn't matter how babies come into the world. As long as you get to take them home afterward, it's a good birthing story.
But we're pre-set as modern parents to want all anecdotes involving our kids — their every wiggle and yawn, right from the get go — to be social media gold. And we're pretty corrupt about it. Hands up if you've slightly edited that very nearly funny thing your child said to make it actually funny before typing it into Facebook. And heaven forbid your followers on Instagram should be subjected to an unfiltered photo of your offspring.
We act as our children's literary and modeling agents until they've grown up enough to start formulating their own dramatic narrative, regaling us with tales of how some kid stole their Snickers at recess. At which point, ironically, we wish they'd stay off social media and just do their homework.
So yeah, I'm not doubting the veracity of the myriad crazy birthing stories I've heard over the decades. Well, not completely. But I know — or heavily suspect — parents milk these tales for every jaw-dropping, intoxicating detail. And why not? Because as much as we'd all like to hope that our children will be outstanding human beings, as generous of spirit as they are gifted of brain, the truth is, they'll probably be fairly average. But I think as parents we truly believe that a magnificent entrance will somehow pave the way for an exceptional, magnificent life.
So bring on the marathon labors, the firefighting midwives, and broom-closet delivery rooms. I realize we should relish our offspring's more normal moments — especially when it comes to something as medically risky as being born — but I want something to talk about.