We at SheKnows have grown a bit addicted to talking to Laura Prepon. We had her over, virtually, for SHE Media’s #BlogHer20 Parenting summit last week. And earlier this month we got her best mom product recommendations. But when someone takes the time to write a book as moving and informative as You & I As Mothers you have to pick her brain as much as she’ll let you.
TBH, I’m a little impressed with myself for not sneaking any Orange Is the New Black or That ’70s Show fangirling into my conversation with Prepon. Instead, we spoke about the special stress of being a mom, how even celebrities can make mom friends, and what it’s been like to run a book tour from her own kitchen.
SheKnows: How’s the virtual book tour going?
Laura Prepon: It’s fun. The fact that we have the technology we do now to be able to do the things that I’ve been able to do, like Zooming in to all these different interviews and doing Live With Kelly and Ryan from my kitchen… My husband helped me set up this whole cooking segment. It was very funny. He was my grip for the day. We’re just figuring it out.
SK: Was your initial plan to take your son with you on tour?
LP: When I had my daughter, I went back to work at six weeks. And so with my son, the book tour was planned for about six weeks after his due date, and most of it was in New York. Now that it was our second baby, we knew what to expect. We knew the support that I needed. We knew how to set it up so that I felt rested and nourished going back to work.
SK: Is doing all this from home easier than that?
LP: There’s definitely a part of you that [feels that way],because it’s always hard to leave your baby. So, yes, the fact that I could do Zooms and interviews and then be able to go right away and see my newborn — that’s been great. But it’s also it’s not easy doing all these things from home. … Doing your own hair and makeup is a very different situation. Getting yourself ready so you look presentable and then setting up the whole place where the interviews are … that actually takes four times as long because you’re personally doing everything.
SK: What’s your secret to not having your daughter barge in on your interviews?
LP: The secret is my husband holding her away from the door. But in a lot of my interviews, you can hear her running around.
SK: Besides the huge difference of being in quarantine, what has been different for you about about having your second child?
LP: The process of writing my book was so incredibly helpful in terms of being ready for my next kid. The healing that came from it, the knowledge and the research that I got from interviewing all these other women in my mom squad and all the doctors that I interviewed and the experts that I talked to in my book — all of this just set me up in a very different way this time with my second kid.
Even though I went through really bad postpartum anxiety, and I was terrified with my daughter because I didn’t know what to do, I would never change it because I learned so much from that situation. And it’s what prompted me to write this book, which I’m so proud of.
SK: I love the quote in your book where you say, “I’m was convinced the survival of the human race is based on female amnesia.”
LP: It’s so true, because when you’re going through it, you’re like, “I’m never doing this again.” It’s so painful and insane, and there’s the crazy early days of sleep deprivation and just feeling like you’re on another planet with delirium. You’re like, “Why do people do this? This is terrible!” And then cut to however much time later, and you’re pregnant again.
SK: Ha! Not me. I remembered too clearly, so I’m one and done.
LP: I get it. I understand. But it is magical. It’s absolutely magical what we get to go through whether it’s once or multiple times.
SK: Also true! Did you make new mom friends when you had Ella?
LP: I pushed myself out of my comfort zone to try to build community. [I pushed] myself go to these different dinners by myself to meet other moms. Those are all things that I did, and wrote about in the book, to build community, because I feel like it’s really important for us to know other mothers.
SK: Is that difficult to do as a “celebrity”?
LP: Motherhood is the great equalizer. We’re all going through the same things. When we all have our babies, we’re covered in spit up and poop. And as kids grow older, we’re all going through the same stuff. So no one’s better than anybody else. We’re all just trying to do the best job that we can.
It’s not easy. It’s the most joyful thing and it’s the most terrifying thing, and I would never go back. I used to pride myself on handling very stressful situations well. … And now as a mother, I am always worried about my kids. … Things stress me out with my kids in a way that I’ve never experienced before. And it almost makes work so much easier because now I know what real stress is. Stress is when you have a baby and you’re like, “Oh, my God, why don’t I see their chest rising and falling?” It almost makes everything else so much easier because now I know what really matters. My priorities shifted.
SK: Do you ever find it hard to work because of that priority shift? Sometimes it’s difficult for me to stay driven, because work doesn’t matter as much as it used to.
LP: If we have that drive, it’ll always be there. But, before I used to look at a project and it was “material first” always. … For me now, the first thing is: How long is this going to take me away from my family? … It’s the time commitment of taking you away from your kids and your husband.
SK: Have you been able to take care of yourself during this time?
LP: It’s not easy, especially with a newborn. … The birth with my son was pretty gnarly, so the recovery was a lot, and I just got cleared to be able to take baths again. … I’m starting to do more of my self-care again, like taking a candlelit bath or making sure I have time to make the food that we need to properly nourish ourselves. I nap when I can, which is not easy. And also just those early bonding moments with your baby of the oxytocin hit where you’re feeding your kid, and you just pass out.
SK: Will you guys do anything special to celebrate Mother’s Day?
LP: What I would like to do is just put all the devices away, not work at all, and just be with my family. If you just put your phone in the drawer and don’t even look at your phone for a few hours, it’s pretty great.
Laura Prepon’s book is one of many great nonfiction books for moms we love.
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