When getting ready for their first baby, parents-to-be have plenty of resources to turn to. You can read What To Expect When You’re Expecting or The Happiest Baby On The Block or listen to the incredibly popular podcast "The Longest Shortest Time."
But if you really want to know about what the first year of parenting is like (especially for the person who gave birth) then you need to grab yourself a pair of tickets to see Ali Wong Live.
The comedian became an overnight sensation when her 2016 Netflix special Baby Cobra aired, in which — at seven months pregnant — she hilariously ranted about wanting to be a stay at home wife (“I don’t want to lean in, I want to lie down,”) and tackled sensitive topics like racism and her miscarriage with raw honesty.
Now Ali’s back … with an update. She had her baby, Mari, in November 2015 (the show taped long before it aired) and has been mining the experience for material, telling her thousands of fans who’ve bought tickets to her 2017 show exactly what it was like.
“Forget the CPR tutorial. This should be the required viewing for expectant parents,” I told my husband, eyes still watering from an hour of straight laughter, after the show.
“I thought breastfeeding would be this beautiful bonding ceremony, where I would feel like I was sitting on a lily pad in a meadow and bunnies would gather at my feet,” goes one joke. “But really it's like this savage ritual that just reminds you that we're all nothing but mammals. We ain't special! When my baby girl is hungry, she yanks my nipple back and forth like that bear effing up Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant.”
As a first time parent who really couldn’t take the constant “it’s so special” talk around keeping an infant alive (much of it really is a horror show) not only was Ali’s standup hilarious, it was really freeing to watch.
I’m not only one who compared the sleep deprivation that comes with having a newborn to torture tactics? I’m not the only one who felt the hundreds of dollars we sunk into pumping accessories was a racket? Or whose marriage felt on the verge of collapse after we brought home this beautiful ticking timebomb?
Judging by the eruptions of laughter filling Town Hall in Times Square for Ali, no, I am not.
Talking about early days of motherhood honestly is still not the norm. Pinterest and baby books focus primarily on the beauty of it all — and of course those precious little moments exist. Talking about these other, less idealized, versions of parenting doesn’t erase the sweet and good parts. But when I heard Ali’s joke about the women who told her to steal the oversized mesh diapers from the hospital — “not for the baby …. for youuuu” — it was the first time I had heard anyone talk about her post-baby experience that honestly in such a public way. It reinforced what I’ve been feeling for two years: How is hiding all of this helping anyone?
What I loved most about Ali’s stand up, though is that for all the raw hilarity and IDGAF attitude she weaves a critical political message throughout her set — that this country needs paid time off for working women after they give birth. “It’s not to bond with the baby,” Ali jokes of paid leave. “It’s for women to hide and heal their disintegrating body." (Of course partners and adoptive parents should also have paid time off to take care of their little ones, but Ali’s making a point about healing after childbirth that is rarely discussed.)
New moms, expectant moms, guys who are or will soon be dads — see the show. See it any way you possibly can. That way when a “hippie witch named Indigo” has your baby’s mama doing push ups into a scalding hot bowl of water to clear up a clogged duct (another thing that’s not in the baby books!) you’ll be ready.
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