The Oprah Winfrey Show has been on for so many years, it's hard to recall a time when I didn't watch her. Not a daily viewer, I've tuned in to the show at 4pm PST off and on since middle school. There have been moments when the material she provided changed my life for the better. There have been plenty of times I've turned her off because I couldn't care less about the fashion, home-remodels, or trips she was talking about. Though Ms. Winfrey has the exceptional capacity to love the deep and the trivial, I have a harder time loving the trivial. Perhaps part of her incredible success is her ability to celebrate both.
As she finishes 25 years of television history, it feels like America's cool auntie is going away for a long trip, and we will miss her. Like a television family member, she has been an inspirer, teacher, comforter, and guide. Her show has been present at many personal moments in our lives. Hospital rooms, prisons, schools, and homes have brought her in, to influence our moments in ways she couldn't imagine. There was one such moment in my life, when The Oprah Winfrey Show was a unknowing participant in a life-changing event.
It was nearly seven years ago, I was at a local hospital with my husband, mom and my sister Patty. In a birthing suite, I whined and tossed about, in the throws of labor with my second kid. Without the drama of the first birth, this one was going smoothly and predictably. Though labor is riveting for the mother, it's hell boring for the observers, so Mom and Patty turned on the television to watch Dr. Phil and then Oprah while they waited for the exciting bit. My husband played a hand-held video poker game.
When it was time to push, my dreamy doctor came over from his nearby clinic and told the nurses to get ready. Demanding that the TV be turned off, I heard brief complaints before the set was silenced. Even the action bits of deliveries can get tedious because of the rests in between contractions. I don't recall what was on Oprah that day, but apparently it was pretty entertaining to Mom and Patty.
Towards the end of the process, I swung an arm and hit the TV remote imbedded on the side of the hospital bed. Flick..click...zap. The TV was back on and I could see Oprah's huge head right above the doctor's crouched body. Auntie Oprah was smiling encouragingly. I tried to tell someone to turn the damned TV off, but everyone else was yelling and cheering and whooping because the baby was crowning.
My doctor told me to concentrate, so I did, and ignored the TV. Safely delivered into the doctor's hands, the baby was quickly cleaned off and set on my belly. While I greeted him, he looked at me with one eye opened, one closed, like a Golden Eagle. He was beautiful. In the background, Oprah was happy about something. Under the spell of lots of pain meds, I was sure she was happy for me.
I don't recall much after that, because as soon as I was no longer in pain, the drugs the nurses gave me during transition were fully experienced. Higher than I have ever been in my life, I crooned about my baby while more family members filed in and the nurses cleaned up.
I have always believed "the Oprah moment" at my second child's birth was a good omen. Perhaps he will some day be an exaltant spirit who has accomplished his life's purpose at maximum capacity, as Oprah certainly has. I'd like to thank Oprah and her staff and crew for making television that upgraded human consciousness, one hour at a time.