“Can you believe that?” the Today Show’s Matt Lauer said in a state of awe on Monday’s telecast. “You’ve just given birth to a baby and the cameras are there for the entire country and you turn and say ‘Hi’?”
Yeah, I can’t believe it either, but that’s just what happened to one Texas mom who allowed the Today Show‘s cameras into the delivery room as she gave birth to her daughter Hayley. And then things got awkward.
The very perky corespondent said, “How are you doing Emily? Look at that camera and tell us!” The new mom, still appearing like she was in a state of shock (and how can you blame her, she just gave birth) looked at the camera at her shoulder and meekly said, “hi.” Then reporter told the very new mom that they had a present for her. Was it a scholarship for her new child? Was it a year’s supply of diapers? With perky reporter’s enthusiasm you’d think it was something that stellar. But no, it was a Today Show onesie which the cheerful corespondent dutifully held up for the camera. It was not just a present in the “meh” category, but came off as blatant self-promotion. I think the new mom should have been the one getting a shirt adorned with something like, “I gave birth on national TV and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.”
The reporter didn’t really know what to do with the Today Show onesie she bestowed upon the woman — who, let me remind you, had just pushed a human being out of vagina and so she placed it on the woman’s thigh while a doctor was still attending to the the new mom’s lady parts. Thankfully the woman’s partner quickly removed the onesie from the new mom’s naked thigh, but it was an awkward moment to be sure.
And this wasn’t the only birth they showed; they had several woman from around the nation who participated in having their births filmed, or allowed the cameras in the recovery room. This is part of the Today Show’s BornToday series, which is a great idea on paper, but just comes off as odd.
I understand that in these days of constant live TV, a network would love to show something as monumental as the birth of a child, but the whole thing came off as a desperate play for ratings. Something about how the births were presented was just weird, and that was just day one. On Tuesday’s show, you could watch a child being conceived live on TV! Obviously they wouldn’t (and couldn’t) show a couple engaged in intercourse, so instead they showed an IVF procedure, which was actually pretty fascinating, and much less awkward than the births.
But my question is this: what makes an expectant mother agree to give birth on live TV? Giving birth is such a personal moment, probably one of the most personal moments in one’s life, and it would be bizarre to share it with millions of strangers watching from their homes. Jessica Menkhausen, the woman whose IVF procedure was on Tuesday morning, wrote about her reasons for sharing her story, saying, “It’s an amazing opportunity to enlighten other women who are having the same challenges. And it’s also a form of self-enlightenment sharing my story is helping me deal with some of my own fears, by courageously facing them head on.” These are very valid reasons, but I still wouldn’t do it.
Would you ever agree to share a moment like this with the world?
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