By Jen Wittes
Last year, when Bravo debuted Pregnant in Heels, a reality show featuring “Maternity Concierge” Rosie Pope and her over-the-top Manhattan clientele, those of us in the real-life (which is different from “reality”) maternity business collectively rolled our eyes.
It seemed as if this “Maternity Concierge” (I’m sorry…I can’t help but continue to put that phrase in quotes) was something of a personal shopper—escorting whiny, waddling urbanites to the hottest boutiques for outrageously priced layette and high-fashion, skin tight pregnancy wear.
The flashy Bravo promotion of the program inspired my quick judgment and even quicker dismissal of Ms. Pope’s business. And I’m a girl who usually loves all things Bravo. Andy Cohen’s autobiography? On my night stand as we speak.
Maybe something about Pregnant in Heels struck a nerve with my doula-self. Perhaps I wondered how these princesses and pin-ups were going to find REAL help, how they would fare postpartum. I thought I knew (without watching) that these women, supported by British beauty Pope, would be brunching and besting their besties at benefits before the baby was 2 weeks old, thus bypassing the crucial body-care and bonding period that we here at Welcome Baby Care tout as life-altering and life-saving.
As season 2 came around this spring, Welcome Baby Care owner Carey asked me, “So what do we think of Pregnant in Heels?”
“I don’t know,” I said, “I’ve been avoiding it.”
“It does seem over the top,” Carey said, “but isn’t she kind of in our business? I mean…in a way she’s a doula, right?”
A doula? Rosie Pope? Hmm.
Right. So. Enough avoidance of the one Bravolebrity who might ever-so-slightly mirror myself. I set my DVR.
The first episode that I watched brought Rosie to Staten Island. The task? Tame a tyrranical 6-year old before the arrival of baby number three.
To her credit, Pope camped out on the couch in the Staten Island home, which consequently was built by the father and apparently designed to—no joke—look just like a night club. Rosie’s couch was situated beneath neon tube lighting and a tricked out chandelier/disco ball in a glorious and unintentional throwback to the 80’s.
I was happy to see her there, in her pajamas. How many times have I found myself curled up on a client’s couch, one eye and two ears open? I needed to see Rosie Pope on that couch—in the trenches and in for the long haul.
Pope was there to help the expectant parents through their first night of sleep training with the bossy big sister.
She also took away every one of the child’s toys and shipped them off in a U-Haul, telling her that she’d get them back after learning how to behave.
Then, she brought in a handful of little girls and ran a “Mommy’s Helper” class, teaching the young girls simple skills like diapering and burping. Inspiring? Innovative? Not entirely. Real help and support? Absolutely. I sunk a little deeper into my own couch. Holy Moly. I might like this Rosie Pope!
On to the next episode:
Elena’s raging hormones had her wanting sex two or three times a day, while Svet felt put off by the swelling belly. There’s a baby in there!
Their tale? A classic. Rosie smirked and tossed one-liners in her close-up confessional, but ultimately took their problem seriously and marched them off to a Kama Sutra expert for some bump-minimizing positioning. These were practiced on camera, fully clothed, by the struggling couple with their loving MC (“Maternity Concierge”) right there to cheerlead, offer suggestion, and remind them to “get into it.” After floorplay/foreplay the couple visited a life coach for some soul gazing. A little gag worthy, but it got Svet and Elena to connect and remember the feelings that started their romantic adventure, before marriage and pregnancy and the thousands of other things that get in the way and cloud that initial spark.
After tackling lack-luster sex, our girl takes on poop. Namely, an eccentric and condescendingly crunchy dad-to be’s desire to practice Elimination Communication (a fancy word for diaper-free parenting). In order to prepare him for the reality of EC, she takes him shopping in New York with a fake baby and a stop watch, making messes all over Manhattan when Pops can’t get the plastic bundle of joy to the toilet on time. This was both entertaining and promising. Not only did I get a kick out of the lispy “MC” impishly flustering the poor guy, I was happy to see her prepare a parent for their postpartum plan. Bloody brilliant.
The word concierge has Latin roots which mean “slave.” The word doula has a similar conotation in Greek.
So, then. Is she a doula? No, not exactly. She is what she says she is: the modern definition of concierge—a facilitator who puts parents-to-be in touch with the right information and services. As a doula, I do some of that, but I also educate. Oh wait, Ms. Pope does that too. Her Mom Prep studio features classes from Newborn 101 to Daddy Boot Camp. Wow…sounds a bit like our course schedule.
As for her initial introduction to an expectant mother? She kicks each meeting off with a Mommy IQ test, helping a mother feel good about what they already know and start thinking about that which they have yet to learn. Reminds me of our signature Postpartum Plan Worksheet…
Rosie Pope may not be a doula, but she is certainly in our line of work. From helping a family find a midwife to helping a truly torn woman choose a godmother, her goal is preparedness and calm.
Of course—given that her vehicle is a reality show on Bravo—there will be drama, demands, and diamonds. That said, I must admit that my own doula practice, and even my personal experiences with pregnancy, are laced with moments of princess and paranoia. It happens.
While her show can often be over-the-top, Pope seems pretty down to earth. My one beef? That she herself appeared on Andy Cohen’s Watch What Happens Live 10 days after welcoming her own baby!
This postpartum doula says, “Ahem. Now, now Rosie. Take off your make-up, put on an old bathrobe, and go back to bed! You should know better…”