People are angry that Beyonce and Jay-Z spent $3,200 a night (depending on what source you read) when they recently went through the labor and delivery of their daughter, Blue Ivy. I have noticed that the angry are divided into two categories: those who are child-free, and therefore clueless abut Beyonce’s choices, and those who have been through labor and delivery and are jealous of Beyonce’s choices.
When I gave birth to my oldest, Allison, I went through 19 hours of back labor. (I gave birth to all three children at New Jersey’s Scarborough Center for Women and Children.) I had committed to not having an epidural and so, pretty much, it was hell. I had taken the pregnancy and labor classes, and had read the books as if pregnancy, labor and delivery were a graduate project, but there was still so much I didn’t know. I was the first of all of my friends to have a baby and only second in my immediate family. My sister-in-law had a scheduled C-section. I didn’t know that I would poop on the table; I didn’t know how much blood there would be. I remember looking back into the birthing room, wanting one last look at where this miracle of life had occurred, and seeing—I kid you not—a bucket on the floor as well as several bloody towels in soppy clusters on the bed and rolling tables.
I was wheeled out into a hallway and left alone for a few minutes. A tour of expectant couples came by. I wanted to sit up and tell them all of the horrible truths I had just encountered, but I was just too damn tired. I managed to pull one of my blood-streaked arms out from under the sheet and weakly moan.
Beyonce and Jay-Z’s official press release said the birth was “emotional and extremely peaceful.” I was only glad we all made it out alive.
Beyonce had a microwave and mini-fridge and coffee pot in her suite. By the time I was taken to my room I had missed all three meals, so a tuna sandwich on white bread, wrapped in plastic wrap, was waiting for me on a tray, along with cubes of grape Jell-O. It felt like a sick joke.
Up in my shared room for the night, I quickly learned that my roommate’s Baby Daddy was in jail, which somehow qualified her for getting just about everything a baby would need for its first two years of life for free. I lay there thinking about my future while this woman had visitors from social-service organizations who brought her cases of formula, baby food and diapers. When they talked about the visiting nurse who would check in on the mother and child, just to make sure they were OK, I remember rolling on my side, away from them, so no one would see me cry. I was so scared.
We both left the next day, around the same time. My roommate got a ride from a social-services van, with a nurse, an aide and all of her supplies in tow. Our hands were shaking as my husband and I strapped the baby into her car seat in our Ford Escort. We had that cliché moment many first-time parents have as we pulled away from the hospital, bewildered, and with little more to say to each other than: “WTF?”
A short time after I gave birth to Allison, Phoebe Cates gave birth to her first child, and Kevin Kline spoke about it on a talk show. He went on and on about how brave Phoebe was and how she insisted on coming home from the hospital after she gave birth. As the interview progressed he mentioned the nanny and the housekeeper. I wrote Mr. Kline a letter I never sent.
Apparently, Jessica Alba advised Beyonce to sell photos of Blue Ivy to the tabloids; this way she would be in control of when and how they were released. Alba reportedly put the $1.5 million dollars she was paid for the same thing in a trust fund for her daughter, Honor. That’s cute. I paid someone else to take my baby’s pictures, and was so proud when the photographer remarked that she had a wonderfully round head.
But Beyonce doesn’t fly coach either, and we wouldn’t expect her to. The hospital was cleared of all charges that they kept other parents away from their own children, that Beyonce took over a whole floor, and on and on and on. I feel like I’m being forced to say “poor Beyonce”—the biggest oxymoron of 2012, but there’s one thing I did have over her: After the birth of all three of my babies, I just wanted to cocoon with my family alone at home, and I was able to. She wasn’t. We didn’t answer the phone or door for the first week of each of my kids’ births. She couldn’t do that either. While I might have liked an on-call nurse a few rooms away, I think I might have even sent home the housekeeper, if I had one.