When F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote that the very rich “are different from you and me,” I doubt he had pregnant women on the brain. But Bravo’s producers took his sentiment to its logically rotund conclusion with the reality TV show “Pregnant in Heels.”
Each week, maternity concierge Rosie Pope caters to New York’s super rich and their sometimes absurd pregnancy needs. Client-facing Rosie is always polished, professional, and the best friend you don’t yet have, though Rosie’s client commentary can be less rosy. Overall, it’s a televised spectacle, alternating between appealing and repulsive.
I first stumbled onto the show last fall. In that particular episode, Rosie helped a man transition from actor to stay-at-home father, while his hot-shot lawyer wife continued breadwinning. Rosie arrived with a baby, so that he could play Daddy for the day (with a live prop). This showed the dad-to-be that his plan to handle all household errands, while also hosting and cooking for a dinner party that night, was totally unrealistic.
As the mother of a then-5-month-old baby, I felt affirmed. I already knew this man’s plans were overly ambitious. I couldn’t imagine hosting a dinner party without advance planning, and I’d already had five months of practice. With this parent-in-training as a control of sorts, I saw how far I’d really come.
I like feel-good TV. But the second season wasn’t that.
I’m reminded of Carrie Bradshaw and crew discussing The New York Times‘ wedding section. All those women who marry their “soul mates/investment bankers” televise their next big life change on “Pregnant in Heels.”
These real women have so much cash to burn that they invite personal shoppers and hairdressers to make house calls and dress their newborns in Christian Dior. Should I be able to relate to them? Economically speaking, my life is nothing like theirs.
I don’t begrudge these couples their wealth, but it was hard to relate. Beyond the materialism, many recent couples were simply unlikeable.
The aspiring Tiger Mom who asked the dog trainer to teach her husband and dog simultaneously? Ick. The personal chef who kept complaining that her husband was MIA for baby preparation, but yelled at him every time he tried to help? Ack. The woman who viewed her growing baby as an obstacle to dressing fashionably? I was with Rosie; embrace your baby bump. And what about the model who thought it was “her philosophy” not to vaccinate, because that’s now trendy? That was foolish and infuriating.
Did Bravo’s producers hope I’d connect with these women on a personality basis, thinking of them as honorary friends and women I could, and would want to, know, or aspire to be like them? I don’t. Did they want me laughing with–or at–these women? That’s harder to say.
Much ink has been devoted to the questions of whether stay-at-home mothers really work, whether they harm women who work outside the home through their actions, and whether women can really “have it all.” A related and very important question underscored by “Pregnant in Heels” is how we view our children: Are they a blessing or a nuisance?
Perhaps that’s the biggest reason I couldn’t relate to many of these women. Whether it’s how they really feel–or how the show was edited–some of them seemingly procreate because they feel like they should; maybe it’s trendy in their social circles. Some speak of their babies as if they were the next must-have accessory to complement their Manolo Blahnik shoes and Louis Vuitton purses, and not little people in their own right. All these women are devoted to a designer lifestyle, as the show’s title captures; in trimester three, they’re still in sky-high heels.
In my third trimester, I carried one-third of my pre-pregnancy weight ahead of me. I wobbled, rather than walked. Wearing heels was impractical (and scary). It would have meant fighting reality and clinging to my previous, child-free life. I adapted by embracing feminine flats, one of many ways I have changed my life to accommodate and include my daughter.
Taking care of babies may not be glamorous, but it’s important. It’s about setting a tone in your lifelong relationship with your children. And ideally those children will never doubt that you love them above all else, including Louis Vuitton’s fall line.