Women are so lucky. There is a reality show for us to humiliate ourselves on for every stage of life: our Sweet Sixteens, our courtships, our weddings, our high-profile divorces and of course our pregnancies and births.
Pre-pregnancy, I saw Bravo’s Pregnant In Heels as a combination of Real Housewives and Bridezillas: a way for wealthy, self-centered women to waste money on a “pregnancy concierge” and ultimately worry about frivolous Manhattanite problems that don’t exist in the real world: The women in TLC’s dramatic-yet-formulaic A Baby Story rarely seem to feature the blowouts and Louboutins the dames in PIH do.
But then I got knocked up and started thinking differently about a lot of pre-natal issues than I did when my womb was blissfully ignorant. Both the blessing and the curse of giving birth in the modern age is that there is an answer for almost every question, but also a question for almost any answer. “Why would you want to eat your placenta?” becomes “Should I eat my placenta?” “Why would I want to feel pain?" turns into "Why would I want to miss out on the full experience of all that natural pain?" There is a trove of information out there for pregnant ladies but also the curse of an overabundance of input and opinion, not to mention the ever-present suggestion that You’re Doing It Wrong.
There is definitely a laughable abundance of wealth in Pregnant In Heels, as pregnancy concierge Rosie Pope (she with the speech impediment that makes her sound like she’s speaking with a mouthful of water--but leave her alone, she’s working on it!) assists New York women as they look forward to their babies. Aside from the money it takes to have and raise a baby and aside from how not-cheap it must cost to hire Rosie, these folks drive Maseratis, employ in-home stylists and do their grocery shopping at boutique gourmet stores. That’s the Bravo side of Pregnant In Heels.
But deep down, beneath the gloss, we see some women with fundamentally identifiable issues: they’re pregnant and uncertain and need help. If they can afford high-end help, then good for them, and if they feel like broadcasting their business on TV, then (arguably), good for us.
Perhaps I’m being overly forgiving of the series based on tonight’s premiere, which focuses on two couples, both of whom have issues that actually seem somewhat relatable (at least to women who are having or who have had babies.) The less-interesting of the two are Helena and Svet. Helena is expecting her second child and is horny as hell in her third trimester. Svet, on the other hand, is not that keen on having sex with his great-with-child wife. It’s not an uncommon scenario, nor are the ways of remedying it that fascinating (including makeovers for both, kama sutra lessons and a visit from a sex therapist with a face that looks like it’s been sand-blasted.)
Christine and Fritz, on the other hand, are compelling, and not just because Fritz dresses like someone who decided to go as a “1980’s standup comic” for Halloween. First, we learn that the couple wishes to have a home birth, utilize hypnobirthing and that Christine would like to eat the placenta (I wrote “Not as special as they think they are” after they revealed this information.) What is interesting is that Fritz, who clearly derives a great deal of self-satisfaction from his own liberalness and whimsy, is actually a secret fascist. When Christine asks about her options when it comes to going to the hospital and getting an epidural if she so chooses, he says things like “I don't think the hospital is an answer” and “It’s gonna be wonderful and it’s gonna be perfect. There’s no what-if.” He would like her to give birth, silently, while grabbing onto a tree. I am not exaggerating whatsoever. There’s something fascinating about people who are so strident in their progressiveness that they become rigid and angry.
Beyond the circus show that is Fritz, though, there is a legitimate educational aspect to the episode and that’s Christine’s home birth. It didn’t sell me on the process, but there is value in demonstrating what a non-hospital birth does look like. In the end, a baby is born and it’s purple and slimy and bloody and disgusting and I totally cried. That part is not very Bravo.
Pregnant In Heels is not for you if none of the following apply to you: a.) You are or have been pregnant b.) You want to be pregnant (eventually) c.) Pregnancy repulses yet fascinates you d.) Wealthy women with questionable “problems” repulse yet fascinate you. But for everyone else, it’s fluff with a tiny bit of real drama and real worry buried within. Just as I watched Bridezillas when I was engaged for a bit of reassurance that I wasn’t as bad as those gals getting married, Pregnant In Heels is strangely reassuring as a reminder that even when you have great hair and shoes, pregnancy can still be worrisome.
- Rosie refers to the vagina as the “Queen Victoria,” which is a much better euphemism than “vajayjay.”
- Fritz is really proud of the fact that he spent time in China. He lets it drop that he first learned about elimination communication while living there and then informs his potential midwife that he used to rap in Chinese, on the subway. (The midwife is not Chinese nor a rapper.)