I tore my ACL in early August. It was a clean tear, right at the base. After physiotherapy, MRIs, and doctors’ appointments, I learned that my latest injury was likely directly related to a “bad left hip” that I’ve had since carrying my firstborn. Pregnancy was tough on my body. That “glow” I’d heard about left me pretty soon, and towards the end it was incredibly painful and uncomfortable.
I was almost seven months pregnant towards the end of filming season two of Lucifer, and I was still performing modified stunts with a tight round ligament. I was exhausted and depleted. When I walked my baby would move, hit my sciatic nerve, and cause my left leg to collapse beneath me. I’d grab onto anything and anyone while trying to breathe through it.
Then, eventually, came two days of labor. I was told that I was having one of the hardest types of labor: prodromal labor, where you have all the signs of active labor but with little to no progression. I threw up with every contraction, and with every contraction came the awful back pain. I’ll spare you the rest of the details, but I made it out the other side battered and exhausted, but with a healthy baby. I was so happy that I didn’t need a C-section because, as a family, we simply couldn’t have afforded the additional recovery time. I needed to get back to work.
Actors don’t get paid maternity leave. In fact, in our contracts, pregnancy is often treated as a disability. As the main breadwinner in our household at the time, I had no choice but to return to work a mere six weeks after my son was born. I did have an incredible postpartum doula, a group of fellow mothers I could lean on, and of course, my husband. But I wasn’t coping, I was drowning. My body had barely healed when I was suddenly back to work, breastfeeding through the nights and showing up on set the next morning, often pretending to be fine.
In fact, breastfeeding was probably the hardest physical thing I’ve had to do—and it was harder for me than giving birth. I was overproducing milk and my son couldn’t latch properly so my boobs were not getting adequately drained. I pumped, I used cabbage leaves, I pressed on despite bleeding and chapped nipples. I cried through feedings and thought about quitting more than once. I had to have a painful massage to unclog blocked ducts so as to avoid getting mastitis.
Eventually, though, I made it through and found my groove. My son would wait for me in my trailer with my husband while I raced to feed him. I felt guilty if I showed up and he was crying. I’d beat myself up most days, but I never showed it at work. Or at least, not the full extent of how much I was truly struggling. My superpower is being able to soldier on, no matter what, no matter how hard, chin up and keep moving. But eventually, it takes its toll. And looking back now, I suspect that I experienced postpartum depression to some degree.
And that brings me back to my knee and this bad hip. The hips and feet are major shock absorbers. When I did things like jump and land, my hips didn’t engage and my knee took my full weight, leaving me in need of ACL reconstructive surgery. But when I look at my beautiful son, I know I wouldn’t change a thing—especially the part about when I had him. I was age 35, had a steady income, was married to his father, whom I love, and I felt ready to take on that sacred role of mother. That hadn’t always been the case.
I first became pregnant with my then-boyfriend, now-husband, two years into our relationship. We lived together and were committed, but neither one of us was ready for parenthood. One day while working as a guest star on Killer Women, I had this weird headache and felt really tired. I asked the driver to stop at a CVS on the way to set and picked up Advil and a pregnancy test. I went through hair and makeup, went to my trailer to change, took the test, and confirmed I was indeed pregnant.
I took a breath and called Chris. I could hear the panic in his voice, but I quickly allayed his fears. I had already called a private abortion clinic and booked my appointment. I knew we weren’t ready, and I knew I wasn’t ready. Ironically, I got a call that day to test for a show where women couldn’t become pregnant. I auditioned in front of Warner Bros executives, producers, and the director, and booked that pilot while pregnant.
At age 32, my abortion gave me choice, autonomy over my own body, and opportunities in my career.
People have abortions for many reasons. In my case, I simply wasn’t ready. That’s it, and that’s good enough. I didn’t want to be a mother at that moment in my life, so I made a decision that was best for me and my relationship. I could afford to have that abortion. I also had the means to start my family without skipping a beat in my career. Millions of women do not have those luxuries, with many being forced into a situation they don’t want and are not ready for.
The truth is that banning abortion will not stop abortion, it just makes already vulnerable people’s lives more difficult. It stops safe abortion because, rest assured, wealthy people will still have access to abortion services. It is the poor who suffer. It is those people already struggling who will bear the brunt of archaic legislation and fake cries of “pro-life.” At the very same time that the Texas anti-abortion bill was passed, legislators in that state made it easier to buy a gun and harder to vote.
In a country like the United States, with poor health care, no federally mandated maternity leave, and women still fighting for equal pay and adequate childcare support, how dare anyone question a woman’s right to choose what’s best for her and her life?
I am a few weeks out of my ACL surgery. I am off crutches and pain meds. I’ve auditioned, taken meetings, and have already started physiotherapy. Knowing my body, I’ll soon be back doing stunt work and working out at the level I’m used to. I’ll push through the way I always do and I will continue to speak up and fight for women to have autonomy over their bodies. I will support those who decide to carry to term and those who don’t. And I will fight to ensure we are treated as more than just “host bodies” in every aspect of society.
To my son, Kingston: I love you. I chose to have you when I was ready. And it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.