Ep. 355 Rumer Willis: Before Birth – The Informed Pregnancy Podcast
Elliot: Welcome to the Informed Pregnancy and Parenting Podcast. I'm your host, pregnancy-focused chiropractor, Dr. Elliot Berlin.
My guest today is a health-conscious, fashion-forward, multi-talented artist. She is best known for her work in film and television, as well as her powerful voice as a singer/songwriter. She’s also a new mother-to-be and is currently training to be a labor support doula. We’re thrilled to have her here with us to share her journey today.
In this first part of the two-part series, we’ll delve into her childhood, career, relationship, health and wellness, pregnancy, plans for birth, and her business “Rumer Has It.” Rumer Willis, welcome to the podcast.
Rumer: Thank you for having me.
Elliot: Oh, my gosh! What an honor. Okay. You’re incredible on a million levels and you have a lot going on. I want to cover all of it, but let’s start to the beginning. What was growing up like?
Rumer: Oh, my gosh. I feel so lucky to have been exposed to so much as a kid. Especially, now, as I’m in this transition to motherhood. I feel even though I say “missed out” on certain things, I still have to sometimes count basic math on my fingers, or my essay writing format is maybe not great from not being in school as much, I got to travel and meet so many people, and have so many experiences. I don’t know, I feel it kind of nurtured this goofiness and silliness and curiosity in me that I really want to help cultivate in my kids.
Elliot: Oh, my gosh. I think we all need some of that.
Elliot: I think the world will be a much more relaxed, better place if we had more goofiness and silliness. Did you homeschool?
Rumer: We were primarily based in Idaho. I grew up in Sun Valley, Idaho. And then, when my parents would work, we would go and be with them on set. We would be in school for a couple months in Idaho. And then, all of a sudden, we were in the Czech Republic for a couple weeks. Or we were — my mom was doing “GI Jane,” we were in Fort Lauderdale in Florida. There were all these different weird places.
Elliot: That seems like three completely separate set of textbooks.
Rumer: Oh, yeah. It’s like, you go into all these different places. We stayed in a house that was haunted. There were gravestones outside of the house in one place we stayed. It was wild, but I’m so grateful and feel so lucky that I got to experience so much.
Elliot: We homeschooled our kids for two years. I felt like the first year was an experiment. We had looked into it as, “Maybe this will be more economical than send our kids to private school,” and it wasn’t. We realized it wasn’t going to be before we did it. But once we started to explore the families that were doing it, we felt so in love with it. We did it. And then, we realized, “Okay. It takes six months to get the swing of things.” We didn’t really get a full experience so we did it for one year.
But the coolest things were like instead of opening up a book to learn how the post office works, literally going to the post office and saying to them, “I’m trying to teach my kids how mail works. Is there anything you can show them? Can we see anything about the process?” They would take you in the back and you could just see all the sorting machines, and all the people working, what they’re doing. There was a supervisor there was just more than excited to show help from the minute the mail gets there, or the package gets there. All the processing, and how it goes to the trucks, and which ones are rooted to airplanes. It was just like a whole different experience. It sounds like that’s how you learned about life. So, you might have to count on your fingers, but I mean invaluable kind of life lessons.
Rumer: Well, I do think it’s important. To your point, I would have loved in school to have had, “This is how you apply for,” I don’t know. Like, how to balance your checkbook. Not that people don’t check books that much anymore, but this is how you create a budget for yourself, this is maybe teaching you about nutrition, or just so many life skills that I feel like I would love to have had included in a curriculum that I now would hopefully try and find a way to supplement for my kids in some way.
Elliot: Well, I mean pros and cons to both. But, most people get the didactic education, not so much real life. Maybe you were heavy on the real-life side and not so good [INDISCERNIBLE 05:04]. Perhaps a balance. A balance in there.
Elliot: Okay. So then, how did you get started in your career?
Rumer: I think just from growing up on sets. It was all I ever wanted, was to just do what my parents did. Because it just was this entryway into this world that you could be anything, you could completely transform yourself. Whether it be with a wig or a costume. It’s like a very high-class version of getting to play pretend as a kid. There was something about it even from a young age that I just was so drawn to. I’ve always sung, and was putting on shows, and I think that’s just kind of part of my personality. I’m such a performer. Even the way I talk. I talk with my hands so much. And so, I couldn’t imagine anything else when I was a kid growing up. And so, I got to be in a couple different movies with them when I was growing up.
But, they really wanted me to finish school, and not do a GED or something like that, which I’m glad on one hand. But, I also wish that I could have started learning the tools and the craft of acting from a younger age so that I could have really implemented that discipline in myself. As I got into my 20s, and was a little like, “Whoa!”
Elliot: What point did you start to study the craft?
Rumer: I went to about a semester of college at USC. I just wasn’t happy. I just was feeling really unfulfilled, so I kind of came back to my mom. I said, “Listen. Can I create my own school that I’m accountable to?” And so, I got a job working at Marc Jacobs as a salesperson. And then, I did singing, acting, and piano lessons, like twice a week. And then, I was auditioning for movies and TV because that’s what I really wanted. During that time, I ended up leaving college and I ended up getting my first kind of acting job separately of my parents. And then, it just kind of started going from there.
Elliot: Did you do more training with your acting?
Rumer: Over the years, this and that. But, I got a bit derailed in my 20s because I was so — I don’t know, I was just all over the place. I wanted to work, but I kind of felt a little bit ungrounded in exactly what I wanted to do. I have a tendency to get a bit distracted. It’s definitely a little bit [unin 07:50]. I didn’t have that hunger to really get out and dedicate myself in the way that I think now I would want to.
Elliot: Is there a defining moment for you where you felt like, “Wow. This is big. I have momentum.”
Rumer: Well, I think a few in different ways. I did a movie called “The House Bunny” that really was like probably the biggest studio kind of thing I had done, which was super fun. Again, it was like I would get momentum, and then I would kind of let myself down or not follow through with it. Because I think I just, as I’ve gotten older, I was — I’m still continuing to work through like this unworthiness narrative of like, “Oh, maybe I’m not good enough,” or “Maybe I’m not talented enough so I’m just not going to fully put all of myself into it so that I can never really fail,” which I’m sure a lot of people can relate to.
Elliot: Absolutely. Yes. What about in music, in singing?
Rumer: I feel very unfulfilled in certain ways. Even though someone else could look at me from the outside and be like, “Wow! You’ve done so much.” I’ve even had that reflected back to me by my partner. But, in some ways, I feel so unfulfilled in terms of my creativity. Because I think I’ve held myself back in a lot of ways out of a fear of failure, or out of a fear of just not being good enough. I think it’s been really interesting. As I’ve gone through this pregnancy, I’ve realized that what I really want to teach my kid is, is how okay it is to fail, how it’s so important to allow yourself to try things that you are afraid that you won’t be good at, and to try things that you might look silly so that you can really get back up there and write a bad song, or look silly, or maybe not do the best job in service of just learning.
Elliot: You know what’s interesting? I think a lot of us, myself definitely included, have fear of failure and therefore don’t put ourselves out in the way that we aspire to. But, not everybody’s really so self-aware about it. Even those of us who are more self-aware, but not so comfortable talking about it. I don’t know if that’s motherhood kind of pushing you to think and process your own life, and how you want your kids’ chapters to be different than yours, or if that’s how you are in general. I find you to be a pretty deep-thinker. You’re like an interesting bundle of fun, serious, deep, goofy, but also warm-hearted. Just so kind and warm-hearted.
Rumer: Thank you.
Elliot: Now, it’s something that I’m learning about you is that like your self-process and you’re okay sharing what you’re learning about yourself, at least for your kids. Now, realistically, for the rest of us.
Rumer: Well, I think it’s important. It’s important to be able to own it in a way so that if you just try and hide it and pretend, I did that for so many years, I was like, “I am trying my hardest.” The truth is I wasn’t. The only way that I can actually change that behavior is by acknowledging it. To your point, a lot of it was I got sober at 27, and I wasn’t working as much because I was kind of all over the place. And then, I really deep-dived into a lot of self-excavation of old patterns, of misidentifications, and things. And so, that has kind of been my journey through the last six years of working here and there, but really just working on myself. In a weird way, I feel it might be woo-woo for some people, but I feel that I was almost doing preemptive work to prepare myself for motherhood.
Elliot: Well, actually, I don’t think that’s super woo-woo. But, if it is, fine. I hope you do more music.
Rumer: I would like to.
Elliot: You have a powerfully, beautiful, soft voice, and you have so much heart in you that I think your music can be really moving and in some ways therapeutic for people.
Rumer: Thank you.
Elliot: I’m gunning for the album. You mentioned kind of getting sober. What were you getting sober from?
Rumer: I would say alcohol. Mostly, alcohol I would say. It was even hard for me at the time when I was 27 to identify as an alcoholic. I think that I was just really unhappy. And so, I think that I was feeling unfulfilled, and I wasn’t dealing with all of these emotions that I was stuffing down about my unworthiness, or my judgment of self, or not being fulfilled creatively, or feeling like “Why can’t I find a boyfriend? What’s wrong with me?” All of the spinning thoughts that we all have all day.
I did a cabaret tour, and was definitely living that musician’s life probably not nourishing myself properly. I just had this moment one night, actually it was New Year’s, it was the day before New Year’s or New Year’s Eve. I just wasn’t even having fun. We had wine, and we got in a hot tub, or something, which I know is bad. Don’t do that kids. I would get panic attacks about how bad I would feel the next day already while I was trying to just enjoy the evening. I just had a moment the next day where I was like, “This isn’t even fun.” I’m not even getting to enjoy the part that people enjoy. I kind of started off. It was just going to be sober in January. And then, I just kind of kept going, and here I am six years later.
Elliot: Wow. Congratulations.
Rumer: Thank you.
Elliot: It’s not easy to do. I’m still struggling with Meatless Monday.
Rumer: I get it.
Elliot: I’ll get there. I’ll get there.
Rumer: Sugar is my other one that my [unin 13:49].
Elliot: I mean, the sadness, I cannot even imagine the life growing up under a microscope, under magnifying glass. Very front and center. First child to two Blockbuster after parents, always in the spotlight. Number one, I could see how anyone would be like, “Maybe I’m an imposter. Maybe I’m not a great actor. Maybe I just know people.” And then, also not really getting a chance to sort of develop on your own, or I don’t know. Did you have zits as a teenager and everybody saw?
Rumer: Oh my God, yeah. That I think was one of the most — and still to this day, is one of the most challenging things around my self-value that I really worked on. I would say mostly, even in the last two years. Because you know when you’re having an awkward phase, when you’re 14. And then, there’s paparazzi taking photos of you, and you don’t look great, or you’re trying to figure out your style, or whatever it may be. People were nasty. People said horrible things about the way that I looked, about how ugly I was. The onslaught of negativity, especially about my appearance, was so devastating to the way that I viewed myself, and the way that I was holding the same perception that some troll on the internet from God knows where, just throwing an offhanded comment not thinking about it.
That also played a huge part in just all of that not wanting to fully dive in and put myself out there because it just felt I was setting myself up to just get torn apart really, in a lot of ways. The internet has only grown. We only have more outlets, like TikTok and Instagram. I can’t imagine being a teenager. If I had had to go through what I went through, when there were just a few blogs being nasty to what it is now, it’s kind of manageable. That’s part of the reason why I feel really strongly about not giving my kids an iPad, and not a phone as a binky.
Elliot: Interesting. I mean, our kids were exposed to screen time, but they don’t get devices until they’re in high school.
Elliot: And then, that might even be too soon, but they’re very restricted devices. They don’t have social media or anything like that. Even my oldest who’s 18, he can make his own choices now, but he sees the downside of all that. He has a Kosher phone that literally calls and texts, and that’s about it.
Rumer: Which is I think all you need, to a certain extent. I do think it’s important to expose them. At the same time, there’s just got to be a bit of understanding. If you can really build up and focus in showing by example, that’s the biggest thing that I learned that I really want to impart on my kids is, you could tell your kid they’re beautiful; you could tell their kid how amazing they are. But, if you don’t reflect that with how you treat yourself, it means nothing.
Elliot: That’s so powerful and such a big life lesson. I only really started coming around to that literally this year. I’m years and years ahead of you. That’s so powerful. Rumer, let’s take a little break and we’ll be right back.
Elliot: Welcome back. We’re talking to Rumer Willis, super pregnant. Still in my mind is you in the spotlight as a teenager and, of course, you need to numb yourself to that. Who wouldn’t want to? It sounds like you chose alcohol as your numbing agent of choice. But even after sober January, how do you recover from that? And also, still, granted by choice now, it’s someone in the spotlight, how do you — obviously, I think anybody that looks at you would not describe you as of anything other than very nice to look at. Everything I described about you in your heart is how you look on the outside, too. Very sweet, and warm, and beautiful. But, to yourself, you may not always see that. How did you come around to accepting you or more than just accepting embracing yourself and loving how you look and feel?
Rumer: Well, there was a lot of me that — well, especially right after I got sober. All of a sudden, you go from numbing everything and shoving it down. It was this huge moment for me. Because all of a sudden, when there’s no distractions, there’s no — people call them “medicators,” right? It can be food, shopping, men, alcohol, drugs, whatever. My distractions were definitely alcohol and dating. When you eliminate those from your life, suddenly then you’re feeling feelings for the first time. I was so overwhelmed. My body went through this crazy detox healing crisis that kind of forced me to stay home. I got shingles. I had all of this crazy health stuff for a good three months.
And so, I just had to sit with myself. I had to just let all of the emotion come out. It was interesting because the emotions came out very physically, which can happen to all of us. I think if you don’t deal with something emotionally, it will manifest physically.
Elliot: Physically, how?
Rumer: Well, I think for people who say have anxiety, they usually tend to have a lot of stomach problems. I’ve seen friends of mine who have a real problem with speaking up for themselves who then always somehow have some sort of respiratory thing.
Elliot: I see what you’re saying.
Rumer: Grief, your lungs are kind of associated with grief. I deep dived into a lot of this kind of healing stuff because I just was kind of leveled by the level of anxiety. I was overwhelmed by sensation because I had been so numb.
Elliot: Physical sensation.
Rumer: Yeah. Just anything that was above — like a flat line. It was so intense. And so, I would get such bad physical anxiety, panic attacks. I worked really hard to find my coping tools to slowly tiptoe and do these three-foot tosses and baby steps to kind of get my body used to feelings high sensation things again.
Elliot: Almost like a desensitization. Meaning, you went from totally numb to hypersensitive.
Rumer: Yeah. To everything. I was lucky enough and privileged enough to be able to do this incredible class called “The Spiritual Psychology,” which was at University of Santa Monica, with these incredible teachers. I got to do it with my mom and my sister, and it changed my life. It was one of the most profound classes I’ve ever taken. It was three years of it. It used to be a master’s program. It truly was life-changing. That’s the reason why I have the relationship I have, why I’m a mom right now. It shifted my whole life.
Elliot: Wow. That sounds so powerful. Indeed, today, you still kind of have this interesting duality where you’re so mellow and relaxed in some ways, but also kind of anxious in other ways, which is interesting. It must be interesting for you to juggle, but it’s also interesting to watch.
Tell me about where in this big picture did “Dancing with the Stars” come in?
Rumer: I did “Dancing with the Stars,” maybe a year or two before I got sober. Everyone in my life was like, “Do not do this show. You are crazy. You’ve never danced before. Don’t do this.” I don’t know, there was something about it where I love a challenge. If I’m given a challenge or something to the rise to the occasion to, I would say nine times out of 10, I do. That’s where I thrive is in that kind of situation. Especially if I’m being taught something.
I had a teacher. One-on-one every day, going six to eight hours a day dancing, which was the craziest thing physically I’ve ever done on my body other than pregnancy. It was incredible. I loved it. I was learning a new skill. I felt like I was doing something that was completely my own that had no attachment to my family. Something that I didn’t think that I would be good at, and that out of nowhere, I was. I ended up winning, which was kind of fun.
Elliot: I mean, amazing! Still now, many years later, congratulations.
Rumer: Thank you.
Elliot: Just the dances that you guys did. He’s a professional, you were brand new at it. It’s so many things entertaining, but wildly entertaining. You’re like looking and you’re like, “No. She must have started dancing when she was three, and this just came easy to her.” It’s so effortless, the way you dance and it makes the viewer so relaxed and just entertained to watch. You can feel so much through your dancing. I was just blown away. Literally, until you just said that, I assumed that you grew up dancing.
Rumer: Oh, my gosh. Not at all. Because we didn’t have time. I would start a dance class, and then we would leave town. Where I would start a gymnastics class, and then we would leave town. I mean, I did give my mom a little bit of a talking to after “Dancing with the Stars.” Because I said, “I’m great at this! You couldn’t have put me in a dance class and just forced me to do it even if I complained?” Of course, then I got my wheels turning be like, “Oh man. My kids had better know another language or two, dance classes, music.” I never thought I would say those kind of things as a mother.
Elliot: Yeah. Actually, to realize that that was that was pre-sober. That’s pretty amazing to be ADD and dependent on alcohol, and to accomplish all that is mind-blowing. Honestly, mind-blowing.
Rumer: It was cool. I wasn’t ever drinking to where it was what you would typically think. I kind of was that person that if I was sad or if I needed confidence, I didn’t feel okay as just myself.
Elliot: Sure. But, what larger spotlight than “Dancing with the Stars”?
Rumer: I know. I feel like I have two people inside of me sometimes.
Elliot: It’s true!
Rumer: There’s one, she’s so calm, so relaxed. Another is this hyper, vigilant, anxious, control freak, and I’m trying to integrate them gently.
Elliot: Fuse. You’re fusing them well. Wow. I like both of them. Right now, you’re pretty health and wellness conscious. What’s your approach?
Rumer: Well, when I got sober, I just saw all of these things that I’d never had anxiety, like I said before. I just wasn’t in tune with my body at all before that. I wasn’t conscious of what I ate, taking vitamins, taking care of myself. That really shifted because I’d never really been sick like that before. I’ve never really had all of those health things. I rarely ever got a fever or got sick like normal people in the just scope of the year.
And so, I really started paying attention to, “Okay. Well, what am I eating?” I stopped kind of eating gluten and sugar. I just really tried to pay attention to what I felt I needed. I was so bad. I used to never even drink water. I would maybe have one bottle of water in a day. I don’t know, I just wanted to try and listen to myself and slow down. Because I felt there was this little kid inside of me. I’ve done a lot of work around what do they call it? “Inner child work,” I guess. I felt like there was this little kid inside of me that was screaming that was like, “I’m hungry, and I’m thirsty, and I need you to take care of me.” And so, I’m going to outlet all of these crazy things in your body so that you listen to me.
Elliot: Oh, wow. That’s deep and powerful.
Rumer: We like to go deep.
Elliot: I don’t know if that’s the “woo” you were talking about, but as taking care of your inner child as a gateway to motherhood.
Rumer: Yeah. A lot of that had to do with kind of re-parenting myself, and noticing how I was dealing with so much pain or victimhood around other people’s rejection of me or my perception of other people’s rejection of me when I was actually really rejecting myself. I was being meaner than they were. I was saying, “Oh, you’re so ugly, or you’re fat, or ‘God, your hair looks like s**t,” or whatever it was that particular day. And so, I was actually being the biggest bully to myself and really had to just reframe even the language that how you speak to yourself is so important. Not just as an example for your kids, but for what you hear. Your body listens.
Elliot: Yeah, totally. I wonder if that’s like, “Okay. If I’m the meanest to myself, then whatever somebody else says won’t be as bad as what I said about myself.”
Rumer: A little bit, yeah. It’s also a self-protective mechanism as well. Similarly, how people do with dating. Where they’re like, “Oh, well, if I keep someone at arm’s length, then I’ll never really be hurt,” kind of idea.
Elliot: And never feel love. Now, you are pregnant.
Rumer: Very pregnant.
Elliot: Very pregnant. How many weeks?
Rumer: I’m 34 weeks. I’m in that chunk that I’m sure all of the gals call you. They’re just like, “I’m ready for this baby to be out of here.”
Elliot: [unin 27:37].
Rumer: Yeah, I’m ready.
Elliot: Well, congratulations. Is motherhood something that you’ve been thinking about for a while?
Rumer: My whole life. The one thing in my life that has been the biggest dream and felt my Divine Purpose in the world. I feel so privileged to have this experience, especially when I know how many women struggle with it. I couldn’t be more excited. I’m so delighted to be a mom. Also, this experience has been so deeply humbling.
Elliot: In what ways?
Rumer: Well, because for so many years, I was so confident about I might have stuff around, my work, and my career, and relationships. But, being a mom, being pregnant, I’m just going to thrive. And then, cut to your six weeks, eight weeks, and I was just laid out. Just physically, it’s hard.
Elliot: Are those things that you logically didn’t know? Like you hadn’t heard about, or you just thought, “That’s not going to be me”?
Rumer: There’s things that you know about. You go, “Oh, yeah. People have morning sickness.” Oh, yeah. People talk about being really tired. But, the biggest thing for me was being so emotional, and having the hormones, you have to surrender. You are not in control of your body. You are not in control of your emotions. You are not in control of anything. That, the part of me that is a bit more perfectionistic and kind of has that desire to control. I just felt if the rug just got pulled out from underneath.
It was challenging because I felt so much shame. Because I was like, “Oh, my gosh. This thing is happening to me that I’ve wanted my whole life, that I’m so unbelievably happy about. And also, it’s really hard physically.” And then, again, in that same position of being mean to myself and battling myself of seeing all my friends who were pregnant, and seeing people on Instagram being like, “Oh, I’m delighted,” and “I’m having the best day,” and “I feel so connected to my baby.” I’m over here being like, “I feel like I’m on a mushroom. Ayahuasca journey every day. I’m lightheaded. I can’t get enough food.”
Elliot: Yeah, Instagram. I mean, my Instagram guy, me on Instagram, he’s got his stuff together in a way that I wish I had my stuff together. I mean, my New Year’s resolution is to be more like my Instagram guy. And so, if we’re using Instagram as a barometer of what reality is like, we’re going to always be a little bit let down.
Rumer: Even just thinking about — here’s a beautiful thing that I’ve realized about myself. I have the most unbelievable imagination, and I think that’s from being a little kid traveling places and seeing things. I can paint a picture of a fantasy or of a plan that I have or manifest it right. But then, I noticed, and this has been something I’ve been working on, especially during my pregnancy, it’s come up as a big lesson, of when reality doesn’t look like the picture, all of a sudden, I get so thrown off.
I had all of these ideas about how I would be so comfortable and easeful being pregnant. I painted this whole picture for myself, and I’m not going to find out the gender, and my sister’s going to be there, and I’m going to have a home birth, and all of these things. I painted this elaborate picture. And then, all of a sudden, I’m dealing with how it really feels to be pregnant, and how physically taxing it is, or feeling challenged to connect with my baby in a way that I didn’t think would happen to me. And then, being so caught up in the fact that it didn’t look like how I thought, that I couldn’t even allow myself the grace or the dignity to adjust to the reality. I have now, but it took a while.
Elliot: That’s also very powerful. I think that’s the Instagram phenomenon on steroids. The fact that we have a vision of what things are. It’s sort of a combination of the fact that sometimes, those are not just rooted in reality. They’re just very airbrushed experiences put out there as if this is my — I mean, I know people who are going through huge, bloody relationship battles and on the verge of divorce or worse. They’re still posting, “To my loving honey bunny, boo-boo on our anniversary day.” You don’t have to sort of take that reality as really probably reality, to begin with. But then, also to be fair in your assessment, it’s hard. It’s hard, yeah. I think you’re my new therapist.
Rumer: I try. Because that’s honestly, that’s part of why I’m doing my doula training, and why I want to be a different kind of doula so I really want to be a doula of the feminine arts. I want it to include preconception, postpartum, sexuality, pleasure, your relationship with yourself. So, it’s not just I’m here supporting you during your pregnancy, but through all of the aspects of navigating your journey like mothering yourself, mothering your baby. Because there’s so many things that people don’t talk about in relation to women’s health. There were so many things that I just didn’t know. I’m someone who was obsessed with birth, and obsessed with pregnancy, and all the things. There were so many things that have been huge learning lessons for me.
I didn’t expect to, I don’t know. I had moments where I was so hot during my early pregnancy. People don’t say, “Hey, you really have to eat every two hours, always have a snack,” or just like “It might be challenging for you to connect with your baby at the beginning, and that’s okay.” There were just things that I wish people talked about more. I was talking to someone the other night who was postpartum and was saying, “You know, it was really hard for me.” If you hear all these stories of women saying, “I’ve never felt a love like this in my life.” She said, “I do love my child, but it took me a while.” I was challenged. And so, I just want to create a space where there’s a dialogue and an openness for people to be able to come and share their experiences without judgment. And so, that you can feel less alone and you don’t have to then have that judgment.
Elliot: I mean, DFA, doula of feminine art sounds incredible. You’re the right person to pioneer that but don’t leave us out. I think men need your wisdom and insight, too. DMA who [unin 34:23].
Rumer: Oh, my gosh. I would love that, yeah. Inviting men into the conversation, inviting partners into the conversation, inviting family. “Hey, this is how I need to be supported.” “Hey, this is what would feel good.” Because pregnancy can be so isolating. We have to teach people how to take care of us.
Elliot: Starting with us?
Rumer: Exactly. Starting with yourself. Let’s take a little break. I’m going to have to listen to this episode three times to get everything again out of you. Let’s take a little break. When we come back, we’ll talk about your imminent birth and the plans you have for it.
Elliot: Welcome back. We’re talking to a super pregnant, Rumer Willis. I have a couple more things I want to talk to you about. One is your plans for birth. You kind of leaked out their possible home birth with your sister there.
Rumer: Yeah. Ideally, that’s where I would love to do it. At home with my partner. I have a fantastic midwife and doula team who are just truly have such incredible community of women to help me through this process and feel confident in myself and in my power. But I’m also, at the same time, especially because I have that tendency in working on control, I’m really not letting myself be fixated. If at any point, someone said to me, “You know what? There’s a little bit high risk.” Like, if I did an ultrasound or something like that, and someone brought forward anything that could be a potential risk, I don’t feel like I need to prove something or that I have to tough it out. Because at the end of the day, the most important thing is just having a healthy baby.
Elliot: Have you gotten advice from family or friends that is meaningful to you that you’ve so far found helpful? I asked that because I say this all the time, but back in the day, you used to live with the family. We all did on family, properties, and villages. We used to just see pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, it was all natural. Sometimes, we don’t. We don’t have that much exposure to it anymore. That’s why we even do these before and after episodes to give exposure to all sorts of different birth experiences. Sometimes, you get stuff from your family or friends that is helpful pearls of wisdom.
Rumer: One of the most amazing things that my doula, Lori Bregman, who’s just an angel. If any of you out there are looking for a doula. She’s also who’s training me in my doula mentorship.
Something that she said to me. My mom had all three of us, unmedicated. In a hospital, but unmedicated. Lori said to me, “You have an imprint for that because that’s how your mom birthed you.” I came into the world, not by C-section. She had a vaginal delivery without an epidural. She was like, “And that’s imprinted in you.” And so, for me, it was never a question that I wanted to do it that way. There’s something to be said for just trusting your body and trusting the process of birth that is such an ancestral thing.
If I was laying out flat cold, my body would still know exactly what to do at the end of the day. Look, that’s not to say that whatever your birth experience is, I don’t want to judge or whatever someone feels the safest and right for you, I encourage that above all else. The most important thing for me to share is just that you get curious. Make whatever decision you want. If you want to have the C-section in the hospital, if you want to be medicated on your back, whatever, you want to be at home, if you want to be in a stream, if you want a dolphin-assisted birth, whatever you want, just ask all the questions and be informed of all of your options so that you can come from a place of empowerment and know that whatever you decide that you can do it.
Elliot: Oh, my God. You just literally read the mission statement for Informed Pregnancy right off our website. We’re on the same page. Are there things though that you particularly be — especially with the two rues that live in your head, super chill rue and super anxious rue. I can imagine they approach this upcoming experience from different vantage points. Are there things that you’re very excited about, and things that you’re also kind of worried about?
Rumer: Weirdly the birth part is the only part that doesn’t scare me as much, or the more kind of I would say antagonistic, or freaked out rue sometimes has. I feel really confident in my ability to birth this baby. My partner and I ended up kind of at month seven, ended up finding out the gender. Immediately, there was this disconnect. It was like a thing got plugged in. Suddenly, I was having conversations. I felt so much more connected. It wasn’t like, “Oh, there’s like a tiny little [unin 39:34] swimming in my belly, too.” There’s a person, and who has chosen me to be their mother, who has chosen all of my stuff, all of my flaws, who has chosen my partner, who has decided that they want to come in and be with me, and do this life with me.
And so, it really became in my head, we’re doing this together. We are co-creating this experience together. To really trust the timing, how they want to be born. Again, this little woo-woo. Kids come in and they’re going to come what time. They want they’re going to come how they want. Whether that’s in 24, 48 hours, or five hours. It doesn’t matter. You got to just, again, surrender and co-create the process with them. That’s at least what I’m trying to kind of manifest.
Elliot: It sounds like this is one area where the two rues might sort of be in harmony?
Rumer: Yeah, very much so. Also, just leaving space for whatever comes. I have a glorious backed-up doctor, who’s Dr. Crane, who has delivered everyone.
Elliot: Eighty million babies.
Rumer: Everyone. Delivered both my half-sisters, tons of my friends. My mom even went to go see him when she was pregnant with me. I have an incredible team that I really trust, and I have an amazing partner, and I’ve been at quite a few births. I was at both of my sister’s birth, and then my younger sister, Mabel. And then, a few other friends’ births. I’ve seen quite a bit, and I’m also that birth junkie who literally is scrolling Instagram watching the birth videos.
Elliot: Oh, yes.
Rumer: I feel very prepared for that.
Elliot: Along those lines, what kind of things are you doing in the final months, weeks, to get your mind and body ready for this big experience?
Rumer: I’m definitely coming to see you because I have had crazy sciatica which not so fun.
Elliot: That is a pain in the butt.
Rumer: It really is. I totally did the classic pregnant woman trope of six weeks before birth, redoing my kitchen and doing construction on my house, which is just how could I not.
Rumer: The nesting thing is very serious. I did not realize it. Even on a day like today. I have nothing to do today. Other than talk to you, I could lay in bed all day and just treat myself make some hot tea. And then, I sit there, and I try and relax, and the only thing I can think about is putting diapers into a dresser that I don’t yet have, or organizing, or folding up clothes, whatever. I got that feeling like, “I got to get it ready. I got to get it ready.”
Elliot: Which is so funny because all the baby needs is you.
Elliot: Are you watching things, or listening to things, reading things?
Rumer: Well, actually, honestly, listening to your podcast for me, listening to stories, and listening to other women’s experiences are so helpful for me. Because when people share honestly and from just a depth full place, it really helps. Because you go, “I can do that, okay, yeah. I think I can do that.” I’ve loved it. I love the before and after, because there’s such a beauty in the expectation, and then really talking about how it was.
I was reading this incredible book called, “Safe Infant Sleep,” which I really enjoyed. Because I realized that ideally, my goals are to only breastfeed, and to breast sleep or co-sleep, but I don’t see a lot of information about it. I know that there are obviously risks involved, but again, I wanted to be informed. I want to know everything. I want to be able to make a decision from a place where it’s not just based on fear. Because I don’t like operating out of a place of fear. I don’t. It’s unhelpful. We’ve seen a lot of it in the last couple years of just projection, and judgment, and resistance. Each mother should be able to make a choice about what’s right for them, what’s right for their family. It’s helped me a lot in certain ways.
I didn’t used to think that I would be a mom who cared about what kind of pillows I have, or the mattress I have, or the chemicals in them, or how to sleep with your baby, or what kind of food, or what kind of cleaning supplies I have in the house, but I do. Because I’ve asked questions and I’ve been curious. I didn’t have to get the RhoGAM shot because I asked questions and I founded on a PT that could test my baby’s blood. I found out we have the same type. Normally, they just give you that shot at 28 weeks, which is fine if you need it. If I have to get it the next time I’m pregnant, then I will, but I didn’t have to this time.
Elliot: So, you and your partner are incompatible. You’re negative and he’s positive?
Elliot: Okay. We’ll do an episode on that at some point and explain what the science all about, but that’s the whole thing. If you don’t have the information, you can’t be a participant in decision-making. What about film? Any of the documentaries?
Rumer: Oh, yes. “The Business of Being Born” was a huge one. I just actually got to go to an incredible luncheon with Abby and Ricky, who are celebrating the 15-year anniversary and doing a re-release.
Elliot: Fifteen years. It’s so crazy. People assume still that that happened two years ago, when they watched the film and she must have a 2-year-old.
Rumer: I know. Well, I showed it to a friend of mine who’s pregnant, is about three weeks ahead of me, and she was going to do a hospital birth. And then, after watching, it was like, “I want to do it at home.”
Elliot: Yeah. It’s kind of amazing now, having been in this field for 20 years with “The Business of Being Born” out for 15. Most people watching, at the very least, they’re like, “Wait a second. I need to do more homework and know my options.” Some of them are like, “Oh, I don’t want that experience. I want to give birth at home.” And so, I’m actually watching like, “Okay, I definitely want to give birth at the hospital, but I need to know more.” It’s a very powerful iconic film. Right now, it’s streaming on Informed Pregnancy Plus, along with a bunch of other films. I cannot tell you, of our 350 episodes, I cannot tell you how many people bring up that film and was like, “That is where I realized I need to have information.” I got started on their empowerment journey.
Rumer: It’s so important. Just having the information, right? Having the confidence to ask questions. I have a bunch of friends who struggled with breastfeeding but then don’t necessarily have the resources or support or maybe understand the importance of it. In that book I was reading about, “Safe Infant Sleep,” obviously, we all know how important it is to breastfeed. If you can, that’s great. But, it’s just a tip of the iceberg. The information that’s public compared to all of the things that I’ve at least dived into. There’s a couple of different documentaries on breastfeeding that I watched. I watch everything because I’m just kind of a grumpy for this stuff. There’s one called “The Milky Way,” and there’s just so much.
Elliot: There’s “Breastmilk: The Documentary,” there’s “The Milky Way,” and there’s others on breastfeeding also. You’re right, each one of them is so powerful. That’s why we actually made it in Informed Pregnancy Plus, because they’re out there somewhere, but it’s hard to find them all. And then, if you do find them, usually, you’ve got to run each one and it can really add up. So, my vision for our two films and all the other birth content I can find was to just put them in one place, easy to access, and everybody can do a free trial and watch as much as you want during the trial period, then it’s $6 for all-you-can-eat really. But, to your point about like not everybody has the resource, so we’re building workshops. Workshops about lactation with tons of valuable information. That is just part of the package. Postpartum, my wife’s postpartum workshop is already up there, The AfterBirth Plan, and so much other content like that. You’re a birth junkie. You feel to me like you’ve been a mom already, and now you’re coming around for round two in this world.
Rumer: I feel that way a lot of the time.
Elliot: It’s hard to find all the information. I want to talk to you about one more thing before we sign off, “Rumer Has It.” This is your business. Tell me about “Rumer Has It.” First of all, I can’t get the song out of my mind after watching “Dancing with the Stars,” but tell me about “Rumer Has It.”
Rumer: Ideally, it’s in a certain way, kind of a bit like what you’re trying to create as well. I want to create a space, obviously, for non-pregnant women as well. I kind of was using the model of goop, right? Really because I’m obviously a new mother, and there’s so many different things. What stroller do you get? What kind of bottle do you use? If you’re having issues breastfeeding, what do you do? I really want to create kind of this foundational space I would say for the doula of the feminine archetype to really flourish. Because I want to have that be the platform for, “Hey, these are the things that no one’s going to tell you about that you need in the first trimester. These are the life hacks or the things that will save you, and these are the things that you don’t need to spend crazy money on.” Just a place where women can go to have a forum and a community to talk about all this kind of stuff and get information about all the different things. [unin 49:14], relationship, motherhood, bottles. What’s the best kind of non-toxic pillow, or things, or cribs? What’s safe? All of it.
Elliot: Sounds incredible. In this birth world, you find puzzle pieces that are all trying to put that village back together and fill in the blanks. It started with professions. Since we’re not on the property and we don’t know, so you have a lactation consulting, you have a childbirth educator, you have a baby nurse, a doula. There’s all these resources that we could put together and make an online village, an online puzzle, and it sounds like “Rumer Has It” is going to be an incredible unique puzzle piece that’s going to help a lot of people. Thank you for doing that.
Rumer: I’m excited because I love sharing. I have this thing that I got, that I found from my osteopath’s office, that is a hot towel warmer. I bought these from this lovely little mother in Tennessee. She makes hand-sewn little microwavable hot pack. And so, I’m using that for my home birth. You literally just put the little microwave hot packs in this hot towel warmer. And so, I have heat pads then, accessible all the time, and it’s been so helpful during my pregnancy. Whenever I’ve had back pain, or I can’t see you, or whatever, it’s great. There are little things that make a huge difference, but you might not know them.
Elliot: But, we will now.
Rumer: Yes, we will.
Elliot: Rumer, I am sending the most beautiful vibe for an incredible birth.
Rumer: Thank you.
Elliot: I cannot wait for you to come back and share the story with us, the rest of the story. In the meantime, where can we find you online?
Rumer: In my Instagram, which is just my name, Rumer Willis. Hopefully, we’ll be sharing more things as I get closer to this birth, and that will be where I do kind of all of the “Rumer Has It” building and announcements as well.
Elliot: Beautiful. I’m not going to lie, I’m a tiny bit jealous of your baby. All right. If you want to find us online, you can find the podcast, you can find the blog, you can find Informed Pregnancy Plus all at informedpregnancy.com.
Photo credit: Cristina King Photography