A not uncommon fear among pregnant women is that the blessed event will unexpectedly happen in some public place and humiliating headlines will read: “Woman Gives Birth in Library, Bewildered Mother Thought She Just Had Stomachache!” Bad enough to make the news, but to give birth prematurely in a foreign country in what was suppose to be a fun long weekend with your comedian husband would really be a nightmare. Fortunately Ann Leary, author of the amusing memoir An Innocent, A Broad, had her water break on ultra-civilized Oxford Street in London and not say, the Outback, but panic ensued nevertheless. “Maybe you just peed your pants,” her husband suggests, “No, I didn’t pee my pants. THE BABY!”
Thus began Leary’s inauguration in Britain’s National Health Service where excellent, free (alas, not free for Americans) healthcare is available for all citizens, and an interesting part of Leary’s memoir is her thoughts on American versus British healthcare. And she had a long time to ponder those differences as her son was born at only twenty-eight weeks gestation, and she stayed in London for months. Through it all, Leary maintains her endearing ability to humorously mock her own insecurities and preconceptions as she faces what really was a traumatic ordeal. Who knew premature babies and socialized medicine could be so funny?