Pushing out the yearly family Christmas card…The many (many) ways childbirth and taking your family’s holiday photo are the same.
It all starts out with a plan. It has to. And it’s usually a marvelous, well thought out, “I’m going to quit my job and just write plans for a living” kind of awesome plan. Especially your birth plan…man, that puppy was a beaut. You had it all printed out on good paper using fancy font, and there was a copy for everyone in the birth room so they would all know that you are going to try to birth the baby natural, and that you really don’t want the epidural (thank you very much), and you would like quiet music playing in the background. There is an equally note-worthy plan for your photo shoot. Your plan is to have the lighting just right, the outfits just so, the smiles real not fake, all eyes open, and no goofy faces. Oh, and you want it to look natural, as if you all just happened to be wearing the same sweater while going for a spontaneous family stroll through a beautiful path in the woods. It should be noted that this plan also includes taking the perfect photo on the very first try.
Sure you’re counting to a different number, but there is counting nonetheless. My husband was counting to ten in Spanish while I was (attempting) to push my first son out. Spanish. I didn’t even know he knew how to count in Spanish. I was like, “what are you doing?! Stop counting to me in Spanish!!” Deep breath, and PUSH, uno…dos…tres… It is literally one of the only things I remember from that long night. It’s seared into my brain as a constant reminder that my husband is secretly kind of bilingual. And then there is the counting that goes on during the holiday photo shoot. It’s a different kind of counting. It’s more of a threat. “I’m going to count to 3. And if I get to 3 and you guys are still fooling around and not taking this seriously…well, I just don’t even want to say. Don’t make me go there. Do NOT make me go there.”
The volume of the voices
It always starts out so nice and quiet. Calm. For the photo shoot I start out with my Michelle Duggar voice. Calmly coaxing the kids into their photo shoot positions. Calling them all gently by name. But I really don’t know how Duggar keeps it up because within five minutes or less (usually less) I am yelling and screaming at the kids as they decide that funny faces and rabbit ears would make nice additions to the family Christmas photo. Same with the birth, (minus the rabbit ears). It starts out so quiet. Let’s all make sure we are talking in quiet voices so as not to introduce an aura of tension into the room. But before you know it you are using your “outside voice” as you demand more ice chips, and then just as loudly telling the kind soul who brought you those life-saving little shards of ice to get the damn things out of your face.
The declarations are eerily the same in both situations: We are NEVER doing this again! (This is declared more than once.) This is RIDICULOUS! (It really is. It’s absurd.) I can’t BELIEVE I thought this was a good idea. (Seriously though, you did. You thought it would be a good idea to push a large-headed human being out of a very small hole in your body. You also thought it would be a terrific idea to gather your rowdy brood, who have the combined attention span of a demented squirrel, and try to photograph them. But these don’t sound like such good ideas now, do they?)
Before you had kids you probably didn’t think swearing and delightfully fun holiday photo shoots would go hand in hand. It’s sort of embarrassing really since it seems so out of place. At least with the birth it makes sense as there is major physical pain going on. I mean, the f-bomb is straight-up par for the course in the Labor & Delivery room. What you don’t realize until you experience it though is that the mental torture of trying to get all your kids to look at the f’ing camera at the same f’ing time is enough to drive you f’ing INSANE! And at some point during the photo shoot you will tell them exactly that.
Need something to numb the pain
Prior to your very first experience with labor, you may have thought that attempting an epidural-free birth was a realistic idea. Especially in light of the fact that an epidural involves a long needle, and talk of shoving that needle into the space between your vertebra and around your spinal cord. You were probably like “yea, no thanks. I’m all set with that potential nightmare.” But no matter where your mind started out, most of us get to the point in labor where we are literally begging the anesthesiologist to do whatever it takes with whatever means necessary to stop the pain. And once that epidural kicks in? Sweet mother of all that is holy! It is a whole new ball game ladies and gentlemen. It’s basically the same with the family holiday photo shoot and wine. Really. The only difference is that the wine is administered orally instead of by an iv. But that is like, seriously, the only difference I can think of.
The end result
But, oh, the end results of your labor. Suddenly there is this tiny, pink little baby who can barely stay awake and is sporting the world’s smallest baby lojack on his ankle. And you can’t even believe that less than 24 hours ago he was living inside your body, and now here he is and he’s real, and he’s like this little tiny miracle that you made. And year after year you will struggle to photograph this child and any siblings. And you will try to get that one perfect holiday photo to send to family and friends so that they too can see, in all its photographed glory, what you have secretly known all along: you have the greatest, cutest, most amazingly fantastic kids that anyone has seriously ever laid eyes on, in the history of ever. Even if they can’t all seem to look at the camera at the same time…