Friday, April 15, 2016

The Walking Dead is Great Pregnancy Fare (at least for me)

Just two weeks ago, I sat in a middle-school classroom as a judge for my parish's speech contest (which wound up being more like a Forensics tournament, which was awesome!). During one of the breaks, the other judges in the room began speaking enthusiastically with the teacher about their obsession with The Walking Dead. One of the judges glanced at me and gave a somewhat apologetic look, with the disclaimer that "it's a really good show!" 
"Actually, I've been wanting to start watching it sometime," I confessed.
"Oh, but you don't want to watch it while you're pregnant." 
Fast-forward one week.

Jacob was working extra hours that day, so I prepared to eat my dinner alone. As I heated a plate of turkey enchiladas, I thought, I should watch an episode of The Walking Dead with my dinner. Why not? One week later, and I'm already a handful of episodes into the second season. I'm hooked on this show, I love it, and I am very glad that I've had so many sewing projects to work on, so that I can cut and piece together fabric as I watch Rick Grimes & Co. fight for survival. And as I see heads getting hacked, guts being ripped out, and zombies stalking in streets, I think back to the warning I was given: You don't want to watch it while you're pregnant. 

But you know what? As I've seen more episodes, I've realized that, for me, The Walking Dead is great pregnancy fare. So let's link up with Kelly and talk about it! 

[I will very vaguely discuss a couple of plot points, but I'm going to keep this as spoiler-free as possible. Please, please, please do not spoil it for me or anyone else who has not seen much of the show yet!]

1. This show gives me a good example of loose movement during labor. 
At childbirth class the other night, we spent about 45 minutes doing a "labor rehearsal." Our teacher explained that when we walked from area to area, us pregnant women needed to act like we were in labor by doing this slow, relaxed, loose shuffle-walk. So as I shuffle-walked with my husband around the living room, relaxing my mind and listening to the sounds of birds chirping and creek water splashing (the audio was supposed to help create a relaxed atmosphere), it hit me: This was just like The Walking Dead! How do the Walkers move around in the forest and meander on streets? With loose limbs, slow movements, and a small shuffle to their steps. These zombies-if they aren't chasing after you, that is-many times exhibit the walk that I will probably assume during labor. So as I shuffle-walked around, I just pretended that I was trying to blend in with a group of Walkers, and I think it really helped me nail the labor-walk. 

2. We see how to be flexible and adapt to unexpected situations. 
In The Walking Dead, things never seem to happen as expected. It's pretty much a given: you know that people will die, seemingly flawless plans will not work out, and that the worst possible things will happen at the most inconvenient times. Do the humans give up? Some do, but some persevere. They adapt, they are flexible, and they keep at this business of living and surviving. In pregnancy and childbirth, unexpected situations occur, so it is necessary to be flexible. I need to let go of my first preferences if the "healthy mom, healthy baby" outcome can only be achieved by another path. Learning to adapt to the unexpected is important in all of life, too-so I'm grateful that The Walking Dead gives a great example of how to do this. 

3. We know that all the pain and suffering is bearable because there is beauty and hope. 
Some of the main characters in The Walking Dead are not religious and don't have a relationship with God (though some of them do pray at one point or another). Yet, they still know that there is something more, something greater, something worth fighting to live for. At one point, a character is in critical condition, and some other characters are discussing if it's worth it to try and heal that individual. After all, in the midst of the zombie apocalypse, is there anything left in the world? After the character in critical condition has a moment of awareness and mentions a beautiful animal that had been spotted before the accident happened, another person offers an alternative to the despairing, hopeless viewpoint. This character points to the fact that this person-
"...talked about something beautiful, something living. There's still a life for us, a place-maybe like this. It isn't all death out there. It can't be. We just have to be strong enough after everything we've seen to still believe that.
While I really love being pregnant, there have been definite moments of discomfort. And, regardless of whether I have a painful or painless labor, I know that it will be a rather uncomfortable experience in some way or another as well. Through all of the discomfort, pain, and intensity, it is important to keep my eyes and heart focused on the crucifix (we have a nice stand-up one that we'll be able to bring to the hospital). To see that Christ suffered and died on the cross, that I can unite myself to Him there, to be with my loving, gentle husband, and to know that there is a beautiful child inside my belly waiting to come out-this all provides the hope and joy that will bring me through the hard parts of labor. 

4. The Walking Dead teaches me to relax and be calm, which is vital during pregnancy and labor. 
Whether they are trying to blend in with a crowd of zombies, hide under cars or behind doors from the zombies, or stay sane while aiming guns at the zombies, the human characters need to learn to calm themselves. There are times when the characters are rash and not calm, and this usually results in something bad happening. During pregnancy and labor, it is so important to relax and be calm. If I tense up anywhere, that will negatively things. So, I've been practicing different relaxation techniques, and I try to really calm myself all of the time now (even when I'm not practicing for labor and birth). The Walking Dead is a great reminder to me that I need to remain calm. 

5. This show can desensitize you a little bit to blood and gore, which is great when preparing to give birth.
Let's face it: Childbirth is messy and rather indelicate. Heck, pregnancy is messy and indelicate! Instead of getting all squeamish about pregnancy and childbirth, I personally have been trying to get comfortable with the idea that things won't necessarily be all clean and tidy. The Walking Dead has been a great way to get myself a tiny bit more comfortable with gore. One of my friends mentioned that for her, as the show has gone on, she's gotten more used to the blood and guts (spoiler: So. Much. Gore.). While I'm still a bit squeamish, I've found something similar happening to me. I know it's all staged, but's something! Whereas in the first couple episodes my stomach churned a little bit, the grossness is a lot easier for me to handle now. 

6. It displays the importance of community and working together. 
This is Dale. Currently, he is one of
my favorite characters, because he is
intuitive and seeks to help other people
 and draw them together. 
Time and time again, the characters and situations in this show manifest the need for community (which Allison points out nicely, too!). They buddy up when canvassing a forest for a missing person. They pair up when leaving on missions for more supplies. In times of chaos and danger, they pull closer together instead of further apart. They need each other to survive. In one of the episodes, two characters are talking about an unborn baby, and their conversation really speaks to me of how crucial community is:  
"The baby won't have any good memories at all. Only fear and pain."
"You can't think like that. We can still find joy and we can still take strength from each other."
Community is important for everyone, but I think this especially rings true during pregnancy and childbirth (and in the days after the birth). Even though I'm a very private person and don't want a mob of people at the hospital with me (no judgement on those of you who like that, I'm just not into it), I still really need community-people to talk with, people to ask for advice, people to teach me about labor and birth, people to talk with me about things other than pregnancy, people to help me with get the idea. In fact, last weekend I was doing a bunch of sewing at my parents' house, and my mom remarked that it was reminding her of an old-fashioned barn-raising: a group of us were sitting around together to cut, trace, and sew fabric in preparation for the little guy. 

7. Marriage and family is also a fairly prominent theme in this show, which fits right in with pregnancy and childbirth! 
At the beginning of the first season, Deputy Sheriff Rick Grimes wakes up from a coma in the hospital to discover that his world has been overrun by zombies. Oh, and his family and friends are gone from the city. Instead of throwing it all in the towel and giving up, what does he do? He plunges forth into the unknown to find his family. Rick's wife and son are in the forefront of his mind, and he'll do whatever it takes to find them. Even though his marriage had hit some rocky ground prior to the coma, Rick still loves his wife and son dearly and longs for them. Just as Rick's family provides strength and motivation for him to endure all sorts of sufferings as he looks for them, so too, my husband and child provide me with strength and motivation to persevere through pregnancy and childbirth. With Jacob at my side and Baby in my belly, I can focus on strengthening my relationships with them, and they motivate me to endure whatever comes my way. 

Well, friends, there you have it: 
Not only do I love The Walking Dead,but I think it's been helpful for me during pregnancy. Perhaps this post just further confirms my high level of weirdness :) I hope that you enjoyed my strange observations! 


  1. Congrats on the baby news!

    I have not watched the Walking Dead yet, but Stargate was my go-to first pregnancy show. Mostly Stargate Atlantis (I'm a sucker for a good villain and good world building).

    1. Thanks, Kirby!
      I've never heard of that show, but it looks and sounds pretty good-and good villains are fantastic. I'll have to check it out sometime!

  2. Anne your post was as if it were right out of the Bible. Even with my hearing aid I can't use a phone or the tv. During the 1950's in the Navy I assited the doctor with many baby deliveries. I wasn't married yet so the training in the delivery room helped me know what fatherhood was.

    1. That is so wonderful that you helped the doctor with baby deliveries! What wonderful work :)

  3. Now this is an unusual post. Angel one time watched like 2 seasons of The Walking Dead because I was away for a couple weeks and he knew it wouldn't be my kind of thing. Gore is not something I'm good at.

    1. Smart move on his part! Rachel, you probably want to stay away from this show, because it is very, very heavy on the gore!

  4. I am so proud. Walking Dead is the best.

    1. :) I must say, Allison, I am rather grateful for you and other people getting me to watch this show...I've been enjoying it way more than I thought I would!

  5. Points for creativity on this one, AnneMarie! You did a beautiful job pulling truths from this TV show. Personally, after reading this, I wouldn't want to watch The Walking Dead. :)

    1. Thanks, Stasia! Haha, totally understandable-this show is a bit hard to stomach and definitely not for everybody!

  6. This is so funny! I regret now never having seen it since I'm due to have this baby almost any day now! I've seen several parodies of the show though, so I kind of feel like I HAVE seen it, even though I haven't.

    1. Glad you enjoyed this, Jenny! If you've seen parodies of TWD, then you're right-you've probably practically seen the show. I bet they are super entertaining-any particular parodies that you recommend?