In July 2006, my first child was a few weeks old and it was time for me to return to school. I had been taking a night class on the works of Tennessee Williams, and I knew my classmates would be eager to see photos of my new baby girl.
I mean, of course they would be eager to see photos of the most beautiful child ever born in the history mankind, so I uploaded all of the pictures from our Sony Cybershot straight to my bulky laptop.
“I’ll just set them up on a slideshow for everyone to see,” I told my husband before I left for class that evening.
As expected, I entered the classroom to congratulatory hugs and requests to see snapshots of the most beautiful child ever born in the history of mankind.
“I have a slideshow!” I enthusiastically replied.
And all of my classmates squealed with absolute delight.
Dr. McElheney, our professor, happily complied to postpone our discussion on The Glass Menagerie while all fifteen or twenty of his students crowded around my computer.
As a matter of fact, I think Dr. McElheney’s exact words were, “Of course we have time to look at a slideshow of the most beautiful child ever born in the history of mankind.”
So, I turned on my computer and pressed play.
“Awww,” everyone sang as photos of my precious peach bundle flashed across the screen. Sophie, a middle-aged lady with ruby red hair and eccentric earrings was the loudest and most complimentary of them all.
“I look horrible,” I noted my sweaty hair and chipmunk cheeks as I held my stunning little doll in the hospital bed.
“Nonsense! There’s nothing more beautiful than a woman who has just given birth! Look at the love in your eyes!” Sophie exclaimed.
The sweet little blessing continued to scroll across the computer screen and more “oohs” and “ahhs” were spoken.
“Whoops! That’s embarrassing!” I hurried for the fast forward key when a photo of the child milking me came into view, although her head concealed my entire boob while she latched on like a leech.
“Nonsense! There’s nothing more natural than a woman breastfeeding her baby!” Sophie preached.
We continued to watch the memories on that Dell laptop, and even the quiet guy who always sat at the back and ate candy out of his messenger bag said, “That’s the most beautiful child ever born in the history of mankind.”
I hadn’t realized how many photos I’d uploaded, and I feared that the class was losing interest in observing the most beautiful child ever born in the history of mankind, but Sophie cheered for me to let the slideshow continue.
“You guys don’t want to see all of this,” I began to fast forward through the out-of-focus shots of grandma holding the baby while talking in mid-sentence.
“Nonsense! You’ll always cherish those candid shots!” good ole reliable Sophie chimed.
Everyone agreed, but Sophie was the most encouraging. Always that Sophie.
Light-hearted giggles and compliments continued to fill the classroom.
And then another photo of my daughter came onto the screen.
INSERT RECORD SCRATCH SOUND HERE
My placenta was broadcast on the Dell laptop.
And it was sort of attached to my body.
And places that had never before seen the light of day or the flash of a camera bulb were now broadcast in thirteen vivid inches for twenty people to see- including a male professor, a quiet guy with a messenger bag and Sophie.
I quickly fumbled to press the fast forward key.
But, alas, there were more photos of my innards becoming outtards.
Horrified, I kept pushing buttons and two, three, four more gory photos flashed before us. The only sound to be heard was my fingers furiously pressing keys. ESC! ESC! ESC! Some people turned away, the messenger bag guy was nowhere to be found (probably vomiting into said messenger bag), the professor had walked to the front of the classroom and Sophie was silent.
"Oh. My. Word. I am mortified," I whimpered.
And Sophie did not say, "Nonsense."
I slammed the laptop closed.
“I’m so sorry,” I muttered, horrified. I mean, what else could I say?
My classmates scurried away from my computer and took their seats. The professor cleared his throat and dove right into The Glass Menagerie. I remained quiet, elusive, my head down and my face a shade of crimson for the remainder of the evening.
When I got home that night, I busted through the front door like a rabid bull and demanded answers.
“WHY IN GOD'S GREEN EARTH DID YOU TAKE PHOTOS OF THE BIRTH? THE ACTUAL BIRTH? I DIDN’T EVEN WATCH THE ACTUAL BIRTH IN THE MIRROR THAT THE OB ENCOURAGED ME TO USE! REMEMBER WHAT I TOLD HIM WHEN HE HANDED ME THE MIRROR? I SAID ‘THANKS BUT NO THANKS, DOC!’ I SAID ‘THANKS BUT NO THANKS!’” I screeched at my husband, who was holding the most beautiful baby to ever be born in the history of mankind.
“My entire Tennessee Williams class had visuals of my menagerie while we discussed The Glass Menagerie! Why did you take photos of the birth? I didn’t even think you watched her actually leaving my body!”
“I didn’t watch it! I just did a point and shoot. I looked away and did a couple of points and shoots! I thought you might want to see it later!” he defended himself.
“Why in the world would I want to see that later? You and your damn points and shoots!” I threw my hands in the air and paced the living room.
“Why didn’t you check the photos before you uploaded them to your computer?” he blamed the entire horrifying ordeal on me.
“I did! I’ve never seen those pictures! I didn’t know they were on there!”
“Oh,” he had a light bulb moment. “I remember now. I hid them in a folder on the camera while we were still at the hospital so no one would see them when they scrolled through. I forgot about them. When you put the pictures on the computer, I guess they uploaded, too.”
“I guess they certainly did!”
“Sorry? You’re sorry? People saw parts of my body I’ve never even seen! And Sophie? Remember sweet, complimentary Sophie? She didn’t say a word. She didn’t say ‘nonsense’ and dismiss my embarrassment! Because it was nonsense. Strangers, ANYONE, seeing photos of my afterbirth is utter nonsense!”
“Yikes. That's pretty embarrassing.”
When I returned to class next week, my head still down and my face still a shade of crimson, no one asked to see photos of the most beautiful baby ever born in the history of mankind.
I ran into sweet, complimentary Sophie in the grocery store a few years later. She eyed the most beautiful three year old to ever be born in the history of mankind standing beside me and, as a matter of fact, we both turned a shade of crimson.